Apr 18, 2024

Crafting High-Performance Teams in Hybrid Workplaces

Hybrid Workplace

As social beings, humans crave interaction. The workplace is no exception, and good relationships have shown to increase collaboration and innovation. Hybrid workers are not around to give each other daily cheers in the break room, but that does not downplay the importance of creating high-performing teams. Keep reading to find out how to make the team members thrive.

A new approach to work

Hybrid work has increased in popularity in the past few years. During the pandemic, the popular work model broke into the mainstream. People came to the office as well as working a few days from home or in another workspace. It could be in a coffee shop or on a train on the way to the children in another part of the country.

As long as you had access to Wi-Fi, and got the job done on time, the physical location did not matter.

Although being slightly reluctant at first, managers and CEO:s have come to realize the advantages with hybrid work. The work-life balance for the employees increased. More energy went into complex problem-solving instead of stressful activities such as commuting and running between doctor’s appointments and lunch meetings. Companies would attract new talents that were interested in the flexible work environment. Win-win.

Productivity in hybrid work environments

There’s always two sides to every story, and hybrid work has led to some difficulties as well. Team work is to some extent built on social interaction which can be a challenge when hybrid and remote workers don’t meet other colleagues face-to-face. Misunderstandings can escalate into to long-term conflicts.

Interacting with colleagues regularly and sharing a few laughs in the lunchroom is a way to connect and reach an understanding. It is easier to be vulnerable and authentic and talk about why the past weekend has been stressful. These kinds of interaction increase trust.

Trust in the workplace is crucial, and the article the Neuroscience of trust in Harvard Business Review states that people at high-trust companies report:

  • 74% less stress,
  • 106% more energy at work
  • 50% higher productivity
  • 13% fewer sick days
  • 29% more satisfaction with their lives

The secret sauce has to do with oxytocin, which is a hormone that is released when we socialize with others and form stronger bonds. It has been linked to higher performance, both individually and as a team. The individual feels more motivated and also helps and supports other teammates, which raises the bar for everyone.

So, how does hybrid work fit into the equation? When having a laugh together in the lunchroom is replaced with sending emojis in the chat, there surely has to be some implications?

Well, not necessarily. It all depends on the nature of hybrid work and the overall team spirit.

What is a high-performance team?

The most common type of team is manager-lead, where the manager is responsible for establishing goals and work processes. It is up to the employees to handle the tasks independently, without a direct involvement by the manager. In a high-performance team, people are not only highly skilled but also work together well. They do not only rely on one leader but rise to the occasion depending on the nature of the issue.

People get along in the team, but also solve conflicts more easily. Other characteristics of the tightly-knitted team is a clear focus and high energy. It is glued together by shared beliefs and values. Here are some more examples:

  • Democratic leadership where team members are engaged in the decision-making
  • Effective decision-making
  • Open and clear communication
  • Diversity is considered an asset
  • Mutual trust
  • Clear roles and responsibilities
  • A transparent, positive and open work environment

Bright and ambitious individuals are on every manager’s wishlist, but the idea of the collective intelligence factor has been put on the agenda by a group at MIT's Center for Collective Intelligence. In layman’s terms, it shows how well the group performs as a team, and actually being smarter than the smartest individual.

How do you create a high-performing team?

No matter how capable and strong the team members are, leadership is essential to reach goals. Life after the pandemic has not been easy for everyone, and the trauma people suffered afterwards lead to that the term Post Pandemic Stress disorder (PPSD) surfaced. It could occur months or even years after COVID-19 hit its peak.

Adapting to the new normal was stressful, and people found that the lack of normality and missing friends and extended family affected their mental health negatively.

Leading with empathy and care is key. It means not only seeing each employee as a valuable asset to the company, but also as an individual with unique needs.

Employees have mentioned that they appreciate when their manager check in regularly, to talk about matters closer to the hearth, which also can affect work. So-called virtual coffee meetings are of a quite casual nature and is a great way to touch base.

As a manager, you lead people of all ages and with different skill sets. When people feel valued and seen, it will increase their performance. Also encourage people to network in the organization and gain support from other departments. Those new synergies will foster collaboration and innovation, and break down silos in the organization.

It also becomes easier to give negative feedback when you already have established a good relationship with your employee.

Strengthen the team

When working conditions change, so will hierarchies and work processes. As a team leader, it is important to put biases and old ways aside and strive to create fair treatment of everyone.

One suggestion is not to view visibility and presence at the office as an indicator for productivity, but rather sets task based goals that align with the new hybrid model.

No man is an island, and the sooner the manager realizes that team dynamics are impacted by personality styles, the better. Some choose to rely on personality assessment tools such as DiSC and Myers-Briggs Type Indicator to understand how different personalities can work or won’t work together. Also use it as a foundation for bringing in new team members, since one individual can disrupt the whole team.

A crucial cornerstone for a great team is to set clear goals. A preferred method is using the SMART criteria:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Assignable
  • Realistic
  • Time-related

Besides the aspects mentioned above, each team member should find the tasks meaningful and challenging without being overly difficult. When work feels repetitive and boring, chances are that motivation will decrease and even cause office burnout.

Nurture hybrid communication

Both leaders and team members regard communication in the hybrid workplace as a challenge, since it can be tough to get the message across on a screen.

To succeed in an hybrid office, synchronous and asynchronous communication is equally important. Synchronous communication is equivalent to a discussion between two people, now replaced with instant chat messages.

Asynchronous communication do not put pressure on the receiver to respond straight away, which is equivalent to sending emails back and forth. Depending on the norms in the workplace, it can be expected to reply within the same day, but a 2-3 days response time is not uncommon in the business world.

Advantages with chat

Communication in a chat such as Yammer, Teams or Slack is crucial for those light-hearted conversations that revolve around certain tasks. It is also perfect for fast decision-making that is not critical.

When a colleague gets stuck with a task and need help, being able to contact a helpful colleague directly is a great advantage. It streamlines workflows and makes sure that no one is left behind.

Many hybrid teams have a more informal chat thread where they post memes, cheer each other up and blow off some built up steam.

Advantages with email

Real time interaction can be tiresome and disrupt people’s workday. In some instances, asynchronous communication is less stressful. It is perfect to communicate important messages and guidelines across the organization. It is also useful when you want to keep in touch with different stakeholders and freelancers that are not directly involved with everyone.

To succeed with hybrid communication, team leaders need to establish guidelines which states what type of communication is preferred, depending on the nature of the message.

With asynchronous emails, everyone in the team can take part in the decision-making and workflow no matter where they are. It is also useful when people operate in different time zones, which sometimes is the case when you hire talents across the globe.

Digital nomads have increased, which means that you work at a company from anywhere in the world. Some companies grab the opportunity of establishing themselves as the go-to employer for remote workers.

A collaborative work environment

In the quest for streamlining work processes and motivating employees, let’s not forget the aspects that improve the work environment as a whole.

An activity-based office is perfect for hybrid workers that switch between the comfy home environment and the bustling office. Sometimes a meeting room is needed for hosting a brainstorming session or an inspiring mini-conference.

At Flowscape, we are mindful about facilitating access to favorite spaces with just a few clicks. In our user-friendly app, you can book a desk in advance and swing by the office without having to stress about it.

Different team building activities (yes, they work both off and online) are needed to increase the level of trust and appreciation between co-workers. When we like and appreciate our team members, we won’t let them down.

Ready to unlock potential of the hybrid work model?

Hiring skilled professional is only one of all pit stops on the way to success. By crafting a highly-functional and motivated team, the company is able to reach its maximum potential and drive growth.

Clear communication and respect for individual preferences are pivotal cornerstones of the hybrid office. Smooth daily processes, such as desk booking and the right communication software sets up the team for success.

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