Now more than ever, it’s critical to know how to manage remote and hybrid staff, as these teams have become common since COVID-19. These teams can also provide your business with great benefits, including global hiring options and improved flexibility for employees.
But how can you effectively lead teams when members are scattered across different locations?
At The Finders, we’re no strangers to these dilemmas. The shift from traditional office environments to virtual and hybrid settings has presented new challenges and even a few potential headaches. However, with challenge comes opportunity. If done right, these team structures can lead to incredible growth and innovation for your business.
This can seem daunting at first, but you’re not alone. In this article, we’ve compiled our best insights to guide you in managing remote and hybrid teams, from unpacking the difference between these work models to uncovering the best tools for seamless collaboration.
What’s the Difference Between Remote and Hybrid Teams?
While both remote and hybrid work differ from the traditional in-office setup, they have unique characteristics. As you probably know, a remote team operates entirely outside of a traditional office setting. Team members, scattered across cities, states, or even continents, connect through digital platforms.
Hybrid teams, on the other hand, blend the remote and in-office work. Employees split their time between working from home and collaborating in an office setting. A “hybrid team” can also refer to a split workplace, where some employees are permanently in-office while others are entirely remote. It’s a balance and combines traditional and remote approaches to cultivate productivity.
Understanding these unique intricacies is the first step in successfully leading these types of teams. Now, let’s unpack how to manage remote and hybrid staff.
Communication is the thread that connects scattered team members, fostering cohesion and collaboration. While we might not share the same physical space, our digital connections must be stronger than ever. But how do we ensure that our messages are heard and understood?
The answer lies in clear, effective communication, and it’s critical to remember that over-communication is better than under-communication. Over-communication in remote setups doesn’t mean bombarding team members with messages. It’s about ensuring every team member is on the same page. Repeating, summarizing, and verifying information eliminates ambiguity and fosters a smoother collaborative environment. That said, you should avoid micromanaging your remote and in-office team members.
There are many tools you can use to make communication seamless, including both video and text-based resources. Video calls provide a personal touch, making interactions more genuine. Platforms like Zoom or Microsoft Teams can bridge the geographical divide between team members, making face-to-face discussions a click away.
Meanwhile, chat apps such as Slack or Google Chat act as the virtual water cooler — a space for both work chatter and casual banter. They keep the rhythm of conversation going, ensuring no one feels isolated.
And then there are collaboration tools like Trello, Asana, or Notion, which act as the central nervous system for projects. They streamline tasks, allocate responsibilities, and track progress, ensuring everyone knows their role in the bigger picture.
Time Zone Challenges
With team members logging in from around the country or perhaps even the globe, scheduling meetings can be a puzzle. However, with a pinch of creativity and the right tools, it’s a challenge that’s easily navigated.
Consider using tools like World Time Buddy, which visualizes overlapping work hours. This helps find that golden window where all team members are awake and active. Encouraging asynchronous communication allows team members to tackle tasks at their own rhythm without disrupting the flow.
Building Trust and Cohesion
With some or all of your team members scattered outside of the office, face-to-face interactions may be limited. Strengthening trust and cohesion in the workplace is even more critical when in-person interactions are restricted, as these bonds can bridge the gap created by physical distance. Fortunately, trust isn’t just built in boardrooms — it’s also cultivated in virtual chat rooms and video calls.
Virtual versions of team-building have emerged, allowing teams to connect in fresh and inventive ways. Incorporating remote team-building activities ensures that your remote employees feel just as much of a part of the team as in-office employees. Whether it’s a spirited trivia night, a collaborative online game, or a shared virtual cooking lesson, these activities break down walls. They let personalities shine and build deeper connections. Just as roots grow stronger with nourishment, relationships strengthen with shared experiences.
Brainstorming in a virtual environment can be a game changer if approached right. When working with remote team members, utilize digital whiteboards, like Miro or Mural, which replicate the feel of a physical brainstorming session. Create a culture of “no idea is a bad idea.” That way, even the shyest member might share the next big idea.
When leaders make decisions behind closed doors (or screens), they can leave team members feeling disconnected or undervalued. However, when organizations share the “why” behind their decisions, it creates an environment of inclusivity. Tools like company-wide memos, regular updates, and open Q&A sessions can shine a light on the decision-making process, ensuring everyone feels like a valued piece of the puzzle.
Though open Q&A sessions are beneficial, the value of connecting with an employee one-on-one can’t be understated. One-on-ones might sound old school, but they’re vital in the remote world. These personal check-ins with remote members, whether through a video call or a chat, create spaces for open dialogue, addressing concerns, or celebrating achievements. It’s important to ensure that your remote employees are just as included in all the decision-making as your in-office employees.
Feedback loops are also vital in building trust in your organization. They’re the channels through which teams can voice opinions, share insights, and mutually grow. Whether through regular surveys or open forums, these feedback mechanisms ensure that in-office and remote employees have a say in shaping the team’s direction and ethos.
Crafting a landscape where trust thrives might require effort, but it’s an investment with immeasurable returns. By embracing these strategies, hybrid and remote teams grow together. At The Finders, we believe that with trust as the cornerstone, the sky’s the limit for what teams can achieve.
Work-Life Balance and Mental Health
While working remotely offers benefits, it can be challenging and lonely for some. Working away from bustling office hallways and water cooler chats can sometimes feel like a solo performance. Isolation can creep in, making the workdays seem monotonous.
It’s essential to recognize that some of your remote employees may have mental or emotional struggles brought on by isolation. Though work connections are no substitute for mental health services, you can regularly check in on employees to combat workplace loneliness. Having virtual coffee breaks or even simply sending a meme can lighten up someone’s day and make a difference.
Everyone needs a helping hand in times of need. Though virtual day-to-day work interactions can lighten an employee’s mood, there may come a time when they need help. When it’s brought to your attention that an employee is struggling with their mental health, you can offer support via your HR department.
Encouraging Clear Work Boundaries
Some remote employees may struggle to strike a healthy balance between their work and home lives. They may fall into the trap of overworking or failing to set clear boundaries.
You can help your employees strike a harmonious chord between work and home by establishing clear start and end times for workdays. If your remote team members are in the same time zone, you can even have a brief end-of-day meeting that concludes all work. Additionally, you can encourage your employees to avoid checking their work emails outside of office hours. That way, they can fully step away from their work in order to rest and rejuvenate.
Leadership in Remote and Hybrid Contexts
Leadership isn’t just about issuing directives but guiding with empathy, understanding, and adaptability. Of course, leading a remote or hybrid staff comes with unique challenges, and even the most seasoned leaders need to adapt to these types of teams.
When it comes to remote employees, leaders can’t simply walk around and check in on progress. Remote work demands a more hand-off leadership style. Rather than potentially interrupting work through frequent check-ins, you can adopt a results-driven approach emphasizing outcomes and employee autonomy.
Setting Clear Expectations
While you should avoid micromanaging your team, you still need to set clear goals and expectations, especially with remote employees. This means defining what’s expected regarding tasks, deliverables, and deadlines. However, it’s not just about assigning tasks — it’s also about sharing the “why” behind them. When team members understand the purpose of their work, they’re more likely to be invested in it.
Celebrate Your Employees
Everyone enjoys being appreciated, and your remote team members must feel recognized and valued. It’s perhaps even more vital now to acknowledge the achievements and milestones of your remote employees, as they may struggle to feel like part of the team. Whether it’s a shout-out in a virtual team meeting, a personal note of appreciation, or a tangible reward, recognizing hard work goes a long way in keeping motivation high.
Visibility and Approachability
Being “out of sight” shouldn’t translate to being “out of reach.” Leaders should be visible, even in a virtual context. This could mean providing regular video updates, virtual open-door policies, or just dropping into team chats for casual conversations. When team members feel their leaders are approachable, it boosts morale and trust.
Effective leadership in remote and hybrid settings isn’t about micromanaging or constant surveillance. It’s about trust, understanding, and building genuine connections. Leaders can improve productivity and employee satisfaction by recognizing and adapting to these new dynamics.
Improving the Workplace with Constructive Feedback
When given constructively, feedback can be a gift. Your constructive feedback can help your employees improve their work performances while also boosting their professional development.
It’s critical to remember that when delivering feedback remotely, clarity is your best friend. Be direct, kind, and specific with necessary improvement. It’s like giving someone a roadmap, not just telling them they’re lost.
On the flip side, being open to receiving feedback from your team is also crucial for growth. Create channels where team members can voice their opinions, share their insights, and suggest improvements. Regular feedback sessions or an open-door (or, in this case, open-chat) policy can foster a culture where feedback is seen as a natural part of growth and not a daunting event.
When receiving constructive criticism from your employees, it might be tempting to get defensive, especially if you only read words on a screen without the nuances of face-to-face interactions. But take a step back, absorb the input, and use it for improvement.
Incorporating feedback into the regular rhythms of your hybrid or remote workspace can ensure that the team is always moving forward, refining strategies, and elevating performance. Embrace feedback as a compass guiding toward improvement and success.
Discover More Management Tips and Strategies with The Finders
Managing a remote or hybrid team is no small task, but with the right tools and strategies in hand, you can thrive in your fully digital or mixed workspace. Communication, trust, technology, and feedback stand as the pillars supporting successful remote and hybrid work dynamics.
Hungry for more insights? Stay ahead of the curve and check out other posts in our blog for more management tips. Additionally, if you need assistance finding new employees, read about The Finders’ recruitment process.