Spurred in part by office closures caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, more companies are adopting a hybrid work model. Businesses using this approach may allow some or all employees to alternate between working at home and in the office. A hybrid work arrangement can also mean some employees always work in the office while others always work remotely.
There are various benefits businesses with hybrid teams can enjoy, such as improved flexibility and fewer employee sick days. But this work model also comes with challenges, including the tendency for managers to micromanage employees. Loosening the management grip is important if you want your off-site team to work most effectively. To help you achieve that aim, here are eight ways you can increase autonomy within your hybrid team.
When you’re working apart from other members of your team, it can be hard to stay on the same page. Many projects have unexpectedly fallen off track due to poor communication between members of the same hybrid team.
To help your employees stay cohesive and work as a single unit, use the right software to track workflows. A good product manager tool can help hybrid team members stay in touch and up to date on current projects. Select a cloud-based tool that makes collaboration between individuals and departments easy and instantaneous wherever they’re located.
Providing employees with the tools they need to do their jobs is a major component of successful hybrid work arrangements. Investing in the right product management software is a good start. You’ll also want to make sure each member of your team has the hardware necessary to succeed.
Some businesses provide remote teams with an allowance to put toward work-from-home equipment. You give these tools to your on-site employees, so it makes sense to also provide them to your remote employees. Laptops, dual monitors, and work cellphones are some examples of tools your remote staff may need.
Too often, failure in remote teams boils down to a lack of clearly set expectations. It’s easy to assume your remote team members understand the details of each project, but they may not. Communication must be consistent and deliberate when you adopt a flexible hybrid work model.
Before launching any project, hold a meeting (either in person or virtually) to establish the parameters of the project. Communicate your expectations early on so your remote team can rally to meet deadlines and perform essential duties. Good communication is vital for helping your hybrid team perform as expected.
It will be much easier to avoid micromanaging your hybrid team if you trust your employees. Take your time when hiring and onboarding employees to build a hybrid team that’s primed to succeed from the start.
Make sure employees who work remotely are comfortable with autonomy. They should know how to take charge and get things done without someone breathing down their necks. They should also be good at communicating with management so no one is left wondering whether they’re doing their jobs.
If you don’t trust your employees enough to let them establish their work parameters, they’ll notice your hesitancy. One of the quickest ways to demotivate your remote employees is to micromanage everything they do.
Allowing team members to set the parameters of their work could involve creating their own work schedules. You might insist on a couple hours of real-time overlap but otherwise allow employees to work when they feel most focused. As long as every team member is engaged and meeting company goals, offering greater freedom can increase productivity and promote work-life balance. You and your team will soon discover that flexibility can become the gateway to greater autonomy.
A hybrid work arrangement may be intimidating for some employees. Fear of making mistakes can lead some hybrid team members to freeze in their tracks and avoid independent decision-making. Fostering a growth mindset can help your staff feel more comfortable making everyday decisions on their own.
To create a growth mindset, let your hybrid teams know that you understand mistakes sometimes happen. Reaffirm that learning from mistakes is the key to forward progress. When employees learn that making a mistake doesn’t result in getting fired, they’ll feel more comfortable working with greater autonomy.
A bird won’t ever learn to fly if its wings are always clipped. Set your hybrid team free by forcing yourself to take a step back. If you’re always available to take charge the moment a challenge arises, your team won’t learn basic problem-solving skills.
Stepping back doesn’t mean you have to turn your cellphone off or make yourself unavailable for days on end. But you don’t want your staff to immediately rely on you when faced with a challenge, either. Make a rule that your employees must develop at least one solution on their own before coming to you. This will encourage greater self-sufficiency and ownership.
Allowing your hybrid team to exercise greater autonomy is a stellar goal. But be sure not to abandon your employees in the pursuit of granting them freedom. You never want to leave your team members high and dry when they truly need you.
To guide your remote or hybrid teams toward greater independence, help them fill any skill gaps they may have. You can do this by helping each employee create a personalized development plan. An individualized training approach will lead to more skilled and confident employees who are naturally better at working independently.
A hybrid team that is capable of autonomy is a beautiful thing. It can also translate to increased profits and more efficient use of company time and resources. Those are great reasons to follow these eight tips for encouraging greater independence in your hybrid team.