Matrix Management / Virtual Teams

Now is the time to plan your hybrid team kick-off

The realistic implementation of hybrid team working is coming up fast in the UK, with the intention being to relax all restrictions in about 2 months’ time. We suspect the advice then will still be to work from home where possible into the second half of 2021, but we expect there will be some form of return to the office for part of the time progressively over the summer. It seems to be a similar picture in the USA.

In some parts of Asia there has been very little experience of lockdowns and remote working and many people are back to working in the office full time.  Other countries have done a better job of controlling cases but many are still in the early stages of vaccination.

We have been talking about hybrid teams for 12 months now and it seems to be accepted wisdom that far more teams will be made up of people who work part of the time in the office, part of the time working from home and part of the time in a third place such as a coffee shop or coworking space.

It all sounds very straightforward, and we are optimists about hybrid working. We think it has the potential to provide us with a “best of both” working pattern that allows us to focus when working from home, and maintain relationship, networks, and culture when we can get face to face.

But as we explored in last week’s blog Hybrid working – how hard can it be it is more complex to combine two modes of working in a thoughtful way to deliver these objectives.

It also takes time for people to process the idea of having more flexibility in working patterns whether that is in location or in working hours. Now is the time to start having the conversations about what your pattern of work will be. People need to know what days they are going to be in the office. They also need to start thinking about how they will organise themselves for long term sustainable hybrid working.

in the webinars we are running to help kick off hybrid teams were also finding a huge desire for people to talk about their experiences during the pandemic, to process the learning they’ve had about working remotely and the things they want to retain from this experience.

They are also looking forward to the new “office experience” and having time with their colleagues.

It would be a shame after such a formative experience if we either defaulted back to the old normal, or drifted without consideration into a new normal. This is an opportunity for us to shape our way of working for the foreseeable future and now is the time to have explicit discussions about what this will look like.

Some organisations are giving detailed guidelines about what they expect, others are giving enormous flexibility to individual teams to determine what they prefer. In either case, teams need to determine their plan of work and their interfaces with other teams and stakeholders who may be working in slightly different patterns .

Hopefully, we are now progressively around the world going to start moving from the situation where remote and hybrid working was a compulsory response to an emergency, towards a situation where it’s a choice. Remember, before the pandemic working from home for part of the time was seen as a perk and was associated with higher levels of autonomy, flexibility and engagement.

We should start to see the positive implications of hybrid working emerge, but only if we introduce it thoughtfully and develop a pattern of work that’s optimal for the nature of the tasks we need to perform and the needs of the individuals working it.

How are you planning to kick off your hybrid team? See more about our training for hybrid team leaders and members here.

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