Level the Playing Field for Hybrid Teams

Level the Playing Field for Hybrid Teams

By: Jeff Robbins

When you've got a hybrid team, it can be easy to inadvertently create unfairness - or at least an imbalance between the office-based staff and those who are remote. To some extent, we're working against nature here.

In-person connections feel more important. There are more senses at work. This is what makes a hybrid team so difficult. By virtue of their physical proximity to one another, some people on a hybrid team end up more connected than others. This alienates those "others."

From the perspective of the office-based staff, it feels like the remote workers are failing to stay connected or they're not communicating as well. But I would argue that it is the office-based staff who are communicating in ways in which the remote workers cannot participate - and not the reverse. For a hybrid team to be successful, the office-based workers need to adjust and accommodate.

So how can we create a fairer environment?

  • Don't mix remote and office-based workers on the same team.

  • Create a "remote first" office environment where all project-based meetings and communication happen in the virtual space. Everyone calls in to group video and audio calls individually from their own desks, even if they're in the same location as one another.

  • Create virtual environments for peripheral, casual communication and culture. Slack channels can be a good fit for these.

Realize that work-from-home employees are inviting the company into their personal and private space. Respect that. Embrace that. Appreciate that.

I often say: "Working at home is also living at work." It becomes more difficult to draw a clear line between "work life" and "personal life" when both are happening in the same space. Many (if not most) workers will lean more toward the work side of the equation to ensure that no one questions the validity of their work. Not only do they want to prove to their employers that they're working, but often their family and friends will question the validity of a job they can do without leaving the house.

As remote team leaders, we must remember to be accepting of our remote workers’ personal lives.

What are your thoughts on running hybrid teams? Tweet us @yonder_io or leave a comment below to share your perspective!