Virtual Teams

Where will your leaders sit in a hybrid team world?

Many of our clients are now working through the implications of a mixed or hybrid way of working where some people are in the office, others work from home and others work from a “third place” such as a coworking space, coffee shop or local office.

In a couple of instances we have found that the senior leadership group still intend to be in the office full time but want to encourage their people to adopt a more hybrid or even “remote first” role.

Unfortunately, as always, senior leaders need to role model the behaviours they want their people to display. If senior leaders decide it’s important that they need to be present in the office, it signals that, if you really value something, you will show up and base yourself there.

The senior leaders we talk to always say “that’s not what we mean”, but as Ralph Waldo Emerson put it “What you do speaks so loud, that I cannot hear what you say.”

There are several problems if leaders choose to stay in the office and encourage their people not to, including

  1. they will tend to underestimate the impact of working remotely or in a hybrid pattern because they don’t experience it themselves
  2. they will create an environment where people who choose to come into the office will have more access to them and will gain status as a result
  3. They will conduct their own work in a way that isn’t “remote-first” and this will encourage others to do the same
  4. the office will continue to be the epicentre of power and decision-making and people who don’t attend will be marginalised from this

The converse is also true, if senior leaders choose to be remote first that sends a powerful signal to others about what is expected. They will be able to focus on improving this pattern of work for everybody and finding more  distributed ways to get things done.

This is only one of the issues we need to think about in establishing a thoughtful hybrid working pattern. If you’d like some help working through this we already run workshops to help teams consider the pattern of work and the key challenges in hybrid working. Here is a blog on another example of an important topic – deciding what work to do where

You can see more about this in our hybrid teams training or in our new book Leading remote and virtual teams

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