In the modern world, many of us find ourselves in a rapidly evolving work landscape characterized by remote and hybrid work scenarios. As a result, we have been confronted with the challenge of effectively navigating these new terrains where team members are dispersed between offices and various remote locations.
Today, we aim to move away from discussing conventional management approaches and tools, instead focusing on strategies to adapt to this new working reality. Whether you’re working remotely, leading remote teams, or managing a hybrid model, our focus will be on how you can refine processes, foster effective communication, and set appropriate expectations. We aim to not only maintain the work you are doing but also boost productivity, without jeopardizing employee engagement, retention, or the much-talked-about company culture.
The first step in this journey is introspection. Deciding what truly matters, and equally importantly, what doesn’t, is crucial. By shedding unnecessary stressors, you enable your team to focus on what’s vital for their productivity, engagement, and the overall success of your projects and organization.
Empowering and Accommodating Employees in Remote and Hybrid Work Environments
One strategy that is pertinent in the remote work context is derived from my experience as an online instructor at a distance learning institution. The primary question that guided my interactions with students was, “How can I support you?” This inquiry does not imply that your team cannot perform unless you intervene, but instead seeks to empower them.
In a remote environment, employees can often feel isolated or lack the readily available support they might have in an in-person environment. As leaders, it’s our duty to help our virtual or hybrid teams feel secure, valued, and engaged in their work, enabling them to reach their creative and innovative potential.
A post by a Vice President of Communications which went viral on LinkedIn some time ago highlights an important perspective: What truly matters is that employees deliver quality work. She asserts that she does not care when, where, or how they get their work done. This perspective is indicative of the fact that human beings are more than their professional selves and have their own personal challenges, needs, and feelings.
If we look at an employee working a conventional 9-5 job, their life outside of work remains separate. However, in a remote or hybrid model, work often becomes more flexible, embedded within the daily routine. Some may start early in the morning, take a break for personal commitments, be online for important meetings, work in between, and wrap up late in the evening.
Does this mean one employee contributes more than another? Not necessarily. The key takeaway is that individuals can find a way to fulfill their work obligations while also accommodating their personal needs. In my own routine, I’ve found a balance that lies somewhere in between these two extremes, leveraging the early quiet hours for productive work before engaging with the rest of my day.
We find ourselves in a new frontier of work, and this calls for innovative approaches to leadership and team management. In doing so, we can ensure productivity and engagement without sacrificing the well-being and individuality of our team members.
Leading Productive and Engaged Teams in Remote and Hybrid Work Environments
In this new landscape of remote and hybrid working models, effective leadership and team cohesion become more important than ever. Let’s unpack the key elements that can help facilitate a seamless transition and create a productive environment, whether your team members are in the office or operating from their kitchen tables.
- Adopt Agile Methodologies: Embrace methodologies like Scrum or Kanban to improve productivity and collaboration. These frameworks promote transparency, enable continuous improvement, and facilitate adaptive planning, allowing teams to deliver high-quality work efficiently.
- Cultivate Trust, Autonomy, and Clear Communication: Leaders should foster an environment of trust and autonomy, where team members can take ownership of their work. This includes setting clear expectations regarding work deadlines, availability during emergencies, and communicating what leaders require from their team.
- Promote Flexible Work Hours and Regular Check-ins: Accommodating personal commitments by allowing flexible work hours can help manage stress levels. At the same time, regular check-ins remain essential for maintaining open lines of communication, providing support, and ensuring alignment on tasks and responsibilities.
- Equip Teams with Necessary Resources and Tools: Leaders should ensure team members have the required resources and technology to work effectively. This includes everything from laptops and additional screens to project management tools like Asana, Trello, or Jira. These platforms streamline collaboration, enhance productivity, and maintain visibility across projects.
- Establish Effective Communication Practices and Channels: Communication in a virtual environment should be deliberate and less disruptive. This includes establishing formal and informal communication channels that maintain regular contact without affecting productivity, facilitating interaction, and preventing feelings of isolation.
- Encourage Knowledge Sharing and Professional Growth: Promote a culture of continuous learning and knowledge sharing, providing challenges, growth opportunities, and chances to learn new things. This strategy can expand team members’ skill sets, foster innovation, and build collective intelligence.
- Acknowledge and Appreciate Team Efforts: Regularly recognize and appreciate the work of your team members. This strategy not only boosts morale but also motivates them to remain engaged in their work.
- Prioritize Team Wellness and Work-Life Balance: Encourage your team members to take regular breaks and balance their work and personal lives effectively. This strategy includes setting clear expectations regarding working hours and promoting initiatives that contribute to mental health and overall well-being.
This article contains highlights from Carolyn Eichhorn’s webinar – Leading Virtual and Hybrid Teams – being provided by MPUG for the convenience of our members. You may wish to use this transcript for the purposes of self-paced learning, searching for specific information, and/or performing a quick review of webinar content. There may be exclusions, such as those steps included in product demonstrations, or there may be additions to expand on concepts. You may watch the on-demand recording of this webinar at your convenience.
- Harvard Business Review. (2023). 9 trends that will shape work in 2023 and beyond. https://hbr.org/2023/01/9-trends-that-will-shape-work-in-2023-and-beyond
- Forbes Communications Council. (2021, September 3). Ensure effective communication with each of your team members with these 11 tips. Forbes. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2021/09/03/ensure-effective-communication-with-each-of-your-team-members-with-these-11-tips/?sh=273fc2ac32e5