Hybrid work culture is the future! Hybrid working models are where people can choose when, where, and how they work. According to research, organizations that follow a hybrid working model have witnessed a significant boost of positivity and effectiveness in providing the best place to work.
But, building relationships in your hybrid work model can feel like an overwhelming task since you’re dealing with both office and remote workers. A hybrid model is more complex than an entirely remote one.
It’s important to keep the lines of communication open so that everyone feels included and connected to each other, whether they’re physically there or not. Here are some tips for building work relationships in your hybrid work model.
What is the hybrid working model?
A hybrid working model is essentially an integration of working from home and working from the office with some set periods of time being allocated for both. The main focus is on performance, output, and outcomes rather than hours worked. Employees can choose when, where, and how they will get their work done.
For example, you may be able to decide whether you’re going to use your office or come into an open-plan space. If you do come into an open-plan space, that doesn’t mean you have to talk to anyone: you could be on phone calls all day, meeting with one-to-one clients and keeping to yourself if that suits your lifestyle better.
According to a Statista survey in 2020, more than 60% of employers indicate that they have employees who work both at the office and at home. It's a clear sign that companies are gearing up for the idea of a hybrid work model. And for good!
Common challenges of hybrid workers
There are several challenges of managing workers who are part remote, but they boil down to two primary issues: communication and collaboration. Hybrid workers don’t always have easy access to resources and rely on others for guidance and direction. As a manager, you should help shape your employee's behavior. Make sure your remote employees are fully engaged with your team so they can share their knowledge with others.
Give them regular feedback, whether it’s via email or Skype calls. And most importantly, if you can facilitate virtual meetings where possible—even if you aren’t physically present—this will go a long way toward improving engagement levels among all members of your team.
Building relationships when working with virtual employees
Building relationships with your employees, both remote and on-site, is important. That said when working with a hybrid work model (where some of your team is remote), building an effective relationship can be tricky.
Types of hybrid work culture can be-
- Office-First, Remote Allowed
This approach means that employees can choose not to work in the office, but the company will reserve the office space for those who value it.
Remote-first doesn't mean that teammates never see each other. Most remote companies hold some type of annual meets or chapter meets for employees who live in the same city.
Some companies who haven't really got used to remote working or require the employees to be physically present at work follow office occasional hybrid work model. Employees are asked to come to the office a few times a week.
Clear policies and proper leadership can help ensure the effectiveness of such a hybrid work model. The experiences of employees should be taken into consideration and see what's working best for them depending on how often and how regularly they work from the office.
Office-First, Remote Allowed
This was the most common work approach globally, especially before the Covid-19 pandemic. The organization would have a small percentage of their employees work remotely and the remainder would work from one main headquarter.
The focus of this approach is to keep both the office and remote work, but define the office as the primary workplace.
Creating a Sustainable Hybrid Workforce Strategy
If you’re operating in a hybrid workplace, there’s something really important you need to know: You may not have an office. Most of your work will likely be done on your own time, and you won’t necessarily be confined to your cubicle or an office for your working hours.
That means that rather than seeing office friendships as possible options for collaboration and problem solving, making friends with coworkers—some of whom might not even share that physical space with you—will only enhance your efforts.
How to approach team building as a hybrid worker? Here are 5 tips for working well with virtual team members so that you can get more done from anywhere.
#1 Reply directly to people
Building relationships with colleagues from both traditional and flexible work models can be difficult. Using these methods will allow you to build strong working relationships with colleagues across various aspects of your organization.
When emailing or instant messaging colleagues, make sure to put their names into emails directly rather than using their entire company name; for example, if writing an email about a personal matter, begin with John instead of the company name. This method shows personalization and makes your message stand out among those that are addressed simply by business name.
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#2 Follow smaller group meetings
Smaller group meetings make it easier for individuals to connect with each other, which is why they’re so effective. However, these interactions can only take place when people have time—during working hours (which are shrinking) or after hours (when employees typically don’t want to be connected).
#3 Set mutual goals
Every hybrid workplace has different goals and expectations, but overall, you’ll want to set mutual goals for your team. It’s important for everyone involved that they have a shared vision of success. If you can find some way to align your group’s goals with those of other teams, even better. The best hybrid workplaces are ones where every department is tied together by unifying goals and each member pulls toward similar objectives.
#4 Schedule regular check-ins
Just as you would if they were in another office down the hall, schedule regular meetings with your remote staff to stay connected and review progress toward goal achievement.
Meet regularly with your team (one-on-one or as a group) to check in on the process, progress, and health. The specific frequency is up to you; some companies prefer daily check-ins for 30 minutes, while others meet weekly for two hours
#5 Allow time for face-to-face contact
In an increasingly hybrid workplace, face-to-face contact is essential for fostering effective team dynamics. Whether you’re working from home or one of your coworkers is out of town, make sure to find time during your busy day to connect with your colleagues—in person if possible.
In addition to building personal relationships and maintaining regular communication, consider using video conferencing for virtual meetings that allow for less interruption and better follow-up than standard email communications.
A good hybrid workplace structure includes weekly or monthly phone calls and occasional in-person visits—even if it’s only for a few hours.
Team building activities
The team-building activities can help foster rapport between team members and help make your business operate more effectively. It’s important that these activities take place both before and after your company makes any changes or implements new processes.
New offices, departments, or employees are excellent opportunities for team building. With each new move comes an opportunity for employees to become familiar with one another again. If you haven’t had a chance to meet all of your new colleagues yet, now is as good a time as any!
Go out for lunch or coffee, attend training sessions together—whatever seems most natural. You’ll notice how much easier communication flows when everyone knows at least a little bit about everyone else. Light conversation with your colleagues goes a long way to ease your mental state. It also helps you maintain a work-life balance.
This extra effort pays off in spades later on down the road too! When problems arise, it will be easier to come up with solutions when everyone has a sense of working towards common goals and values; group cohesion prevents groupthink from taking over later on down the road.
Don’t forget that being a good coworker means doing your part and being an asset to your company, not just working well with others. Maintaining a positive attitude towards others in your company will set you apart from all of those overconfident or under-assertive coworkers, because you’ll be neither and will be able to come together with everyone else as a cohesive unit that can help grow together and conquer anything together.
The way you interact with and relate to your co-workers is going to form one of many factors involved in whether they like their job and feel supported by their employer; invest some time into treating them right, building strong relationships, and communicating effectively with them. Over time, we all develop reputations as teammates who can be relied on when needed most—or ignored when it comes down to crunch time.