BUILDING BLOCKS OF HYBRID COLLABORATION
For Hybrid Teams configurations: part office, part elsewhere
A hybrid team is a configuration where part of the team works in the office, and part of the team works elsewhere. Admittedly, this is the most difficult style of working but when the right processes are put in place, it can be just as successful. In this episode, we highlight the building blocks of successful hybrid collaboration.
Every team is different and there’s no one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to great collaboration. When discovering the right setup for your team, our advice is to be open and curious, and try as many things as you can. Below are some powerful tips on how to start building your hybrid team.
BUILDING BLOCKS OF HYBRID TEAM COLLABORATION
FOR THE INDIVIDUAL
DECIDE HOW REMOTE DO YOU WANT TO BE. Before you can succeed at being partially online and partially in the office, you must first decide what that looks like. What is your ideal workspace setup? How many days would you like to be in the office and how many days would you like to be remote? It might help to experiment with new things, e.g. co-working spaces, cafes, libraries, etc. Know why you want to work remotely, and build around that.
CREATE A PRODUCTIVE AND SUSTAINABLE WAY OF WORKING. Figuring out a routine and work style that suits you can be a long and convoluted journey, but when you find it, you will truly reap the rewards of working from anywhere. In an interview with Rebecca Seal, we discussed how to create a healthy structure and routine conducive to productivity and happiness. When thinking about this, there are some important habits we must implement:
- Take more physical breaks
- Create strong boundaries, especially if you’re working from home.
- Have an on/off ritual – something that will signal that you’re ‘at work’ or ‘at home’.
- Remember to build self-care into your daily routine to avoid burnout.
FOR THE COMPANY
HOW REMOTE DO YOU WANT YOUR COMPANY TO BE? A two-day work from home policy is completely different from a fully distributed team. Before the company can move forward with a hybrid system, it’s important to first decide what that looks like.
CREATE A TEAM AGREEMENT. A team agreement outlines what kind of information we share, how we communicate with each other, and how we know what each other is doing. In short, it will help to fine-tune your team.
USE MULTIPLE COMMUNICATION CHANNELS. In terms of
software glitches, this is, of course, a no-brainer. But more importantly, the benefit is that different channels work better for different situations.
CREATE BETTER WORKFLOWS. In his book, A World Without Email, Cal Newport speaks about the ‘hyperactive hivemind’. He contributes this to unstructured conversations on messaging apps and meetings dropped into diaries on the fly that fill up our day and prevent us from doing ‘focused’ work. Statistics show that most people check their inboxes once every six minutes, and instant messages once per minute. Cal states that we can avoid this by creating better workflows and “replace low-effort communication with high-quality touchpoints.”
HAVE SHORTER MEETINGS. In order to make remote meetings work, we must first acknowledge that meeting online is not the same as meeting in person. Meeting in 2D can lead to eye strain, boredom, and distractions are rife. In order to keep your audience fully engaged, it’s a good idea to keep meetings short. And if your meeting runs longer than 45 minutes, remember to take a 5 to 10-minute break to allow people to stand up, stretch, and refresh.
HAVE FEWER MEETINGS. Before you have a meeting, ask yourself, “do I really need this meeting or can we communicate asynchronously?” Status updates can be made via a tool, such as Slack, whereas more important information could be shared in an email. If you’re giving a presentation during a meeting, try recording it before the meeting begins so you can use your valuable time for discussion and decision-making. Getting better at asynchronous communication gives us more control of our workday and gives the team more time to process information instead of making knee-jerk decisions.
EXPERIMENT WITH NEW WAYS OF BEING PRESENT. There are a plethora of remote working tools we can use these days, from virtual offices to telepresence and extended reality. In order to give your remote colleagues more presence and allow them to feel more connected to the team, invest a little time and money and try out new tools. Virtual offices, such as WELO are a fairly inexpensive way to start and allow you to engage with team members as if you were in the room together.
INVEST IN GREAT INFRASTRUCTURE. Hybrid meetings are really difficult and we recommend avoiding them if you can by getting everyone to do it remotely. If you can’t, invest in great equipment. It’s a good idea to start slow – the way we use our office spaces is changing and evolving quickly so don’t buy the biggest most expensive gadgets when you’re making your transition to a hybrid way of working. Figure out how you want your workspace to be and then build your equipment around that.
DESIGN BETTER MEETINGS. The bar is low when it comes to what makes a great meeting. In order to achieve this, the meeting must have a purpose, an agenda, and start and end on time. As long as you have these three ingredients, your meeting will (most likely) be successful. If you’d like to learn how to Design & Deliver online meetings like a pro, sign up for one of our workshops!
SPEND TIME UPGRADING FACILITATION SKILLS. When we’re trying to engage our audience online, the easiest way to put everyone to sleep is by talking too much. We have to learn how to communicate, not only with words but with ideas. And to convey ideas we use a mix of verbal, structural, and visual cues. Virtual whiteboards are incredibly powerful tools for showing, not just telling, along with props and drawings, which are cheap and effective ways of getting your ideas across.
BUILD TRUST. Before you can build trust within your team, you must first trust that it is possible to build a high-performing hybrid team. There are three key factors to building trust: reliability, consistency, and responsiveness. Does this person show up? Do they consistently produce good work? How quickly do they respond to messages?
CREATE A PLAN TO FACILITATE SUCCESS. In order to succeed, we need to first define team expectations. What does success and failure look like? Visualization can be a very useful tool when working as a team, and it also allows us to know what people will be working on. When we work remotely, we should be less time-oriented and more results-oriented. This means we should set a goal and then get out of the way and let the team reach it.
IMPLEMENT FEEDBACK LOOPS. Working together in the same space gives us constant contextual feedback and the opportunity to share concerns and delights. On remote teams, we have to create a space for things to be brought out into the open. All teams can benefit from doing a little reflection
and highlighting both “the good” and “the bad”, and scheduling regular times to check in with each other gives teams the opportunity to focus on what’s going well and what can be
BUILD IT INTO EVERYDAY ACTIVITIES. Playing a game of virtual Bingo with your colleagues on Friday night is probably the last thing you want to do after a long week of being online. And just because you’re able to have fun together doesn’t necessarily mean that you’ll collaborate well together. Instead of setting aside a full hour of unstructured time, try implementing small activities into the daily routine, such as an icebreaker question before a meeting.
MOVING MOTIVATORS. Understanding what our teammates’ intrinsic motivations are for showing up to work can help us to team build in a genuine, authentic, and meaningful way. Management 3.0 has created a fun and easy game called Moving Motivators that will give you more insight into what makes your colleague tick, which will (hopefully) inspire better collaboration.
CELEBRATE SUCCESS WITH YOUR TEAM. On every team, there are milestones we reach and accomplishments we make. In order to keep a happy and healthy team, it’s essential to take the opportunity to celebrate our successes together. This helps to increase team morale and keep the team motivated to achieve more. There are lots of online services these days that allow us to order anything from nice wine to pizza delivered straight to your remote colleague’s doorstep.
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Interviews packed with stories and tips for those whose business models depend upon successfully bridging distance!
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