With the duration of the current global pandemic unknown, managers face an unprecedented time of turmoil and disruption. These challenging times have forced organizations to adjust quickly. They evolve their workforces, accepting that the “new normal” involves letting go of conventional work locations and being more flexible with “office hours.” With this acceptance comes the rise of hybrid teams – workforces that are a mix of remote employees working in different locations.
But with organizations new to the concept of leveraging both on-site and off-site workers, there may still be hesitation in implementing hybrid teams as there’s worry about building the level of trust that’s best established when working face-to-face. However, with the right attitude and technology, building trust within hybrid teams is possible. Here are five ways you can grow confidence with your hybrid team:
1. Communicate often
Delegation and collaboration are most effective when the instructions are both documented and delivered face-to-face. When teams can’t meet in person, the next best thing is to meet via video call, which is more personal and interactive than emails and texting. However you choose to communicate with your team, frequency is vital when growing trust. When team members don’t hear from each other often, especially their managers, they can feel isolated.
2. Create bonds
Find opportunities to break up the routine and connect with team members on a more personal level. Get the team together on a video conference call for ice breakers or story-telling or participate in an after-hours game night. Have virtual coffee breaks together. The more team members learn about one another, the better they will communicate and engage.
3. Be understanding
Recognize that each person on your team will have a different work-from-home setup. Not everyone will have a dedicated home office. Some will have young children, pets, or home situations that won’t resemble or sound like a traditional office. Be compassionate as each person makes adjustments to meet the requirements of working remotely successfully, even if it may mean being more flexible about work hours.
4. Be transparent
Transparency increases employee engagement, reduces barriers, and demonstrates honesty. Communicate regularly with your team about your actions, decisions, and any company-related changes and updates. And when possible, involve them in your decision-making. Being transparent also invites team members to contribute their feedback and supports the feedback loop that is critical to maintaining trust.
5. Be consistent
Creating a consistent work environment increases the team’s sense of stability and, in turn, trust. Team members need to trust that they can rely on you. To achieve this level of trust, be consistent about achieving goals or meeting deadlines on the date promised. As a manager responsible for value-added work, this may mean being reliable in leading scheduled regular conference calls or delivering weekly updates.
Whether you are the CEO or manager, your team members look to you for guidance. Effective managers need to plan, do value-added work, set context and boundaries, delegate effectively, and maintain feedback loops when building trust with hybrid teams.