Estimated reading time: 5 minutes, 27 seconds
Buffer and AngelList’s 2020 State of Remote Work reveals that 43% of companies are hybrid, meaning part of the team is full-time remote and part of the team works out of the same office. However, an additional 24% of companies allow individuals to work from home on occasion. That’s a total of 67% of companies who are navigating the complexities of remote vs. in-office dynamics. We wanted to understand in more depth the challenges that these hybrid-remote teams face on a daily basis.
At our Networkplaceless event, we specifically asked attendees, “Does your company have a plan in place to address hybrid team communication gaps?” Thirty percent of respondents said yes, 39% said no, and another 30% said not sure. (Note: if your team members aren’t sure, it’s probably time to revisit your policy and make communication improvements).
In order to provide solutions to some of these challenges, we reached out to leaders of hybrid teams to see how they tackle relationship-building, communication gaps, and career development. During our Networkplaceless event, we welcomed two guest speakers to do just that:
This is the overarching theme for Trent's approach. He even structures meetings where his in-office employees log-on via Zoom from their desks vs. from a central conference room.
This applies to the physical setup of the meeting, the frequency of the meeting, and the objectives for the meeting.
You can't wholly replicate in-office interactions in a virtual environment, whether it be face-to-face relationship building or hallway conversations. Accept it. Then work to find tools and best practices that open channels for deeper communication. For example:
When it comes to measuring performance, it’s clear that the metrics need to be established based upon output. If that’s not the current baseline for performance on a remote, hybrid, or co-located team, then managers have a different problem to solve. However, in hybrid teams specifically, remote workers are often left feeling the additional burden of needing to advocate for themselves more than their in-office counterparts. Especially at larger organizations, it’s human nature that executives and leadership team members are more familiar with the people and the work that they physically see. This means the remote worker needs to be more proactive in terms of showcasing their output, reaching out to colleagues, and developing a network of mentors and sponsorship. There are two important ways that hybrid-remote team managers can help:
While remote workers can find answers to individual challenges, a true remote mindset must live at executive and leadership levels across the entire hybrid company in order for best practices to be established. Both Marlene and Trent mentioned the importance of aligning expectations during hiring, onboarding, and throughout employment. With remote leadership skills being so critical to these aspects, it’s important to ensure virtual leaders understand and are aligned on expectations. Companies need to invest resources to ensure new remote and hybrid leaders are up to the task. To help, we’ve created Leadplaceless, a virtual leadership and remote management training course designed for leaders of both hybrid and fully distributed teams.
We also captured tips and recommendations from a hybrid-remote team member, Ali Riehle. Check out her article: Things I learned after five years on a hybrid-remote team.
Special thanks to the Remote Work Association for introducing us to Trent!
The Remote Work Association (RWA) is a network of virtual business leaders and advocates passionate about fueling the future of location-flexible work. Join RWA to connect with the community of remote work thought leaders and change makers through speaking opportunities, best practice content, and networking.