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Workplace Learning and Performance Institute

Introduction to Hybrid Teams

Some team members work together in the same location 100 percent of the time. Others work together, but from different locations. Perhaps more common than either of these are hybrid teams, a mix of onsite and virtual team members. 

Our next Tip of the Month series will focus on the unique challenges and opportunities of hybrid teams, the impact on engagement, and how to maximize member engagement and productivity. We begin by describing the composition of hybrid teams that makes them unique.

Are your team members 100 percent virtual? 100% onsite? Chances are, you have teams composed of both virtual and onsite members. Today, more and more team members spend part of their worktime onsite and part of it remotely. 

Teams whose members are 100 percent onsite are becoming the exception. Instead, onsite attendance is more fluid, resulting in the rise of “hybrid teams.” Hybrid teams are a mix of onsite and virtual team members. In addition to employees, team members may include vendors, contract workers, and other business partners.

The additional complexity from the days when all team members worked onsite and had regular opportunities to meet face-to-face, build social bonds, and create bonds of trust is too often underestimated. To leverage the power of hybrid teams, organization leaders need to focus on three foundations that support them—Strategy, Structure, and Stewards.

  • Strategy takes a long-term view of growing and developing their workforces to support strategic business goals. Fostering an organizational culture that supports mobile team members includes availability and access to and mobile technology, open space workstations, and meeting spaces that include video-based visual technology.
  • Structure relates to policies that support remote team members such as job descriptions that account for differences related to virtual work performance, career development opportunities, recognition and rewards. Providing resources for training and informal learning, and development of work processes that are explicit in how team members will communicate and collaborate are key.
  • Stewards consider developing team members skills to successfully navigate between virtual and onsite expectations, who can build rapid trust with their colleagues, and who take more accountability for managing themselves and their results.

Over the next few Tips of the Month, we’ll explore what leaders can do to address the unique needs of hybrid teams and leverage the talents of their members.

Here’s a Tip:

Here are some tips to help you think through the strategic application of hybrid teams in your organization. Consider the following:

  • In a survey of 1,000 hiring managers, 55% agree that remote work among full-time employees is more common now, and say they expect up to 38% of their full-time workers will be working remotely in the next decade. What strategy does your organization have to address this trend?
  • Hybrid teams often include both employees and other members such as contractor workers, vendors, and partners. Consider putting in place policies to address confidentiality, expectations, use of technology and communication protocols.
  • Ensure that all team members are skilled and comfortable in using video conferencing. This reduces multitasking and increases engagement.
  • Create a Team Operating Agreement with team members that documents team norms, and operating procedures including response time, meeting protocols, decision making processes and ways to address conflict.

Next month, we will explore common challenges and opportunities of hybrid teams.

Partners in Development are experts in navigating the virtual teams work environment. If you’d like to obtain more actionable items and resources to implement with yourteam, visit http://virtualteamresources.com.

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