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The year 2020 forever changed the way people think about work as the world learned how productivity
can be maintained and even enhanced when the workforce is remote. Remote work allows employers and
employees alike greater flexibility, from opening up the talent pool, to gaining more time in the week with the
absence of a commute. The popularity of remote work is here to stay, leading to an increase of managers
overseeing hybrid teams; a mix of people in an office and working remotely. As some employees return to
the office, the idea of managing a hybrid team can feel like a daunting task. The good news is that it doesn’t
have to be.

Successfully leading a team in a new situation requires the proper awareness and insight before taking meaningful action. Similar work styles can appear differently if someone is in person with their colleagues compared to virtual interactions. Communication, decision-making, and conflict-resolution can easily go awry when coworkers are in different locations. Understanding each other’s natural work styles helps build appreciation for what each individual needs to be successful. Through self-awareness and empathy, your team members’ ability to embrace their differing work styles can set the stage for top-notch team dynamics regardless of where each individual is located.

Use a science-backed, reputable behavioral assessment to collect people data on your team. This helps you become aware of how each team member prefers to communicate, make decisions, and resolve conflict.

How are your team members’ natural work styles similar? How are they different? What degree of empathy needs to be in place to meet in the middle and satisfy each person’s needs?

Have a conversation with your team. Invite their feedback. Together, decide how you will communicate, make decisions, resolve conflict, and support each others’ natural work styles.

Action isn’t a checklist. Hold yourself and your team accountable for supporting this way of working so you as a hybrid team can be just as, if not more effective, as a team working in the same physical location.

Different team members have different work styles. Some focus on innovation, others on process. Some employees are people-focused and others focus on results. Each of these work styles plays out differently depending on whether you are managing an employee in the office or a remote employee. The following pages provide insights on how your employees may show up at work differently given their work location, and offer tips to effectively manage your hybrid team.

Teamwork & Employee Experience

People whose work styles favor Teamwork & Employee Experience tend to:

  • Communicate by talking things through and brainstorming out loud.
  • Make decisions collaboratively, seeking input from each involved team member.
  • Resolve conflict by focusing on the people involved.

You may notice these behaviors among your team members in different locations:

In PersonRemote
Walking over to a team member’s desk to ask
if they have a minute to talk through an idea.
Requesting collaboration time with a team
member whenever it works best for that person.
Calling a meeting with cross functional
stakeholders to all weigh in on a project or
decisions to be made.
Including all relevant parties on an email or
message thread so everyone can discuss and
be on the same page.
Impromptu casual conversation throughout
the day.
Scheduling time with team members to catch
up about non-work matters.
  • Team members may find it harder to ask for help if they have to do so across the interwebs rather
    than reaching out to a neighboring colleague.
  • Gathering input from everyone who should be involved in a decision can be a time intensive process,
    especially when not everyone is in the same location.
  • Remote employees may struggle to find a sense of community on the team if they aren’t able to
    attend team lunches, team outings, or participate in casual conversations.
  • When onboarding a new hire or introducing a new process, block off time on your calendar for
    impromptu questions or dedicated time walking through the task with the team to make sure
    everyone feels comfortable with the work.
  • Start your weekly team meetings with “Events or Brags” from home life. Consciously set aside this
    time so people can share pieces of who they are outside the workplace.
  • Set communication standards regarding who needs to be involved in discussions and when.

Innovation & Agility

People whose work styles favor Innovation & Agility tend to:

  • Communicate by talking things through and brainstorming out loud.
  • Make decisions independently without waiting for consensus.
  • Resolve conflict by focusing on the people involved.

You may notice these behaviors among your team members in different locations:

In PersonRemote
Walking over to a team member’s desk to
bounce an idea off them.
Sending a message requesting
spontaneous collaboration.
Saying, “I’m thinking about this, what are
your thoughts?”
Coming to a conclusion and start working
without informing all team members.
Side conversations, unintentionally leaving
remote folks out of the loop.
Many side conversations going on at once
with different stakeholders.
  • Spontaneous conversations can lead to important parties accidentally being left out of
    important decisions.
  • Asynchronous decision making can draw out the time it takes to settle on a decision, plus leave
    some of the team members out of the loop if they are unavailable while the conversation is going on.
  • Side conversations with different stakeholders can lead to mixed messages or responses to
    problems that are no longer relevant.
  • On your weekly team meetings, save time for ‘show n tell’, where each team member shares what
    they’re working on, and invites feedback from the team.
  • Encourage face-to-face collaboration, not just messenger collaboration, whether in person or
    video conferencing, to ensure communication and tone are not lost in typing.
  • Make extra effort to summarize all side conversations about a project with the greater group,
    so no communication or discussion points are lost.

Process & Precision

People whose work styles favor Process & Precision tend to:

  • Communicate concisely, after thorough reflection on their own.
  • Make decisions collaboratively, seeking input from each involved team member.
  • Resolve conflict by focusing on the task involved.

You may notice these behaviors among your team members in different locations:

In PersonRemote
Interacting primarily via messenger or email,
even if a colleague is in the room.
Engaging in as-needed, work-related
conversation via messenger service.
Calling a meeting with cross functional
stakeholders to all weigh in on a project or
decisions to be made.
Remaining quiet on group video meetings
unless called upon.
Asking for others’ input when proposing
decisions and processes.
Requesting collaboration time with a team
member whenever it works best for that person.
  • Dynamics may suffer as team members only know each other as colleagues, not as people
    outside of work.
  • Certain colleagues’ voices may not be heard if they do not feel comfortable speaking up when
    some are in the room and others are on video.
  • Decision speed may slow down as people seek to collaborate asynchronously while not leaving
    anyone out.
  • Set aside some time as a team to talk about anything but work. Play a game, have a happy hour,
    just chat; encourage folks to get to know each other regardless of their location.
  • Adopt a meeting cadence where each person will be asked to share their thoughts. If they don’t
    speak up on their own, call on them to speak.
  • Give people the information they need to make decisions ahead of the actual conversation.
    Set expectations that discussion will happen and a decision made by a specific deadline.

Results & Discipline

People whose work styles favor Results & Discipline tend to:

  • Communicate concisely, after thorough reflection on their own.
  • Make decisions independently without waiting for consensus.
  • Resolve conflict by focusing on the task involved.

You may notice these behaviors among your team members in different locations:

In PersonRemote
Beginning conversations with questions about
work instead of greeting people first.
Placing time on a colleagues’ calendar
without discussing the meeting context.
Side conversations, unintentionally leaving
remote folks out of the loop.
Coming to a conclusion and starting work
without informing all team members.
Interacting primarily via messenger or email,
even if a colleague is in the same room.
Reaching out only to share or request
information.
  • Dynamics may suffer if team members are so task-focused they appear brusque and unfriendly.
  • The urge to move as fast as possible could lead to people being left out of the decision-making
    process if the entire team is not able to be gathered together at the same time.
  • Team members may feel like information is told to them instead of shared with them if they never
    have an opportunity to talk through decisions or organization-wide happenings.
  • Remind your team members to start all messenger conversations with a simple greeting; don’t just
    lead with their question or comment about work.
  • When all team members can’t participate in a conversation, try to think about questions they might be
    asking. Take notes to share with them about the discussion they missed.
  • When information is shared, whether about an immediate team or the entire organization, take
    the time to pull the entire team together for discussion, regardless of where they are. Invite team
    members to share what their cross-functional teammates may be hearing, from in the office or other
    messenger channels.

Create a Solid Foundation

Whatever your team’s mix of preferred work styles, and whether they are remote or together in an office,
there are certain foundations a team must have in order to be successful in a hybrid work environment.
In addition to the behavioral checkpoints above, take some time to check in on your team members’
appropriate access to technology, your communication habits, your team/organizational culture, and
the spirit of trust on your team.

Ensure your team has the resources necessary to collaborate effectively when in separate locations.

  • Your remote employees should have access to the same equipment as employees working in the office. Set
    them up with appropriate laptop accessories, office equipment, a second monitor, etc.
  • Employ technology made for remote collaboration such as video conferencing software (Zoom, Microsoft
    Teams, Google Hangouts) or online whiteboard solutions (Google Jamboards, Miro, Lucidchart)

Establish agreed upon channels of communication across the team.

  • Decide which messages are best delivered via email, which require a live conversation, or when an asynchronous
    messenger conversation is appropriate.
  • Make a conscious effort to ask for everyone’s input in discussions where some are in the room and others are
    virtual; avoid side conversations.

Decide as a team how you will get your work done together.

  • Is your team in different time zones? Do you have a mix of early birds and night owls? Be clear on general
    working hours so the team can connect with each other when need be, but don’t micromanage schedules or flex
    time.
  • What are the values by which your team operates? Do you value transparency above all else? Having fun while
    you work? Customer focus? Whether as part of a broader organization or as a subculture, take time to establish
    the guiding principles by which the team works.

Empower your team members to manage their schedules in the way that best maximizes their productivity.

  • Allow your team flexibility in how they work. If they need to turn off their messenger for heads down time every
    now and then, or if they have appointments around which they need to schedule, be gracious in understanding.
    You’ve hired a good employee; if they are getting their work done, there may be wiggle room for how it is done.
  • Be a safe space. Show your team members that you have their best interest in mind. Encourage them to come
    to you with questions or concerns, and be clear that any feedback will not be used against them in any manner.

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