Gear up for Teamwork: Strategies for Balancing In-Office and Remote Collaboration
In a fast-paced work environment fueled by technology and digitalization, teamwork is more important than ever. Strong teams foster productivity and improve company culture. With the new hybrid work model, teams are made up of both in-office and remote workers. How do you strengthen collaboration in the hybrid office? Let's find out!
Understanding collaboration between in-office and remote workers
For businesses consisting of hybrid and in-office employees, collaboration has to work smoothly. According to Steelcase’s 2019 Active Collaboration Study 97% of business executives, managers and individual contributors claim that teamwork is crucial. The level of a companies success is measured in terms of innovation and collaboration. Both play an important part in attracting top talent and keeping it.
Middle managers and business leaders have to deal with the rapid rise of hybrid work. Most of us would agree that hybrid office solutions are for the forward thinking and can see their long term benefits. However, the practicalities of hybrid employees are somewhat more complicated. How do you create a flexible work environment that also supports company growth?
Employees who feel involved will go out of their way to move the business forward. Collaboration requires engagement on all levels from company leaders to middle managers and team members. In it, to win it - to put it shortly. You are able to see results such as:
- Outperformance of other businesses
- Improved company culture
- Increased scalability
- Increased employee retention
- Improved productivity
- Better customer relations
- Increased profits
However, sometimes collaboration and motivation remains unticked on the CEO:s wishlist. In reality, studies show that there is often a discrepancy between management visions and the attitudes of the office workers. According to Gallup, only 30-35 % of the employees feel engaged at work.
The answer most likely lies in the traditional management structure where orders come from the top and trickle down further down in the organization. Do as I say, and not what I do, is the message.
Employee engagement starts with the CEO
Nevertheless, leaders have realized that culture needs to come from within and each employee needs to be regarded as a valuable asset. Richard Branson was one of the first leaders to empower employees. According to him workers should be paid a fair salary and treated with respect.
A clear vision and strategy improves company culture
A collaborative and welcoming culture starts with great leadership. Therefore, it is wise to start by building strategies and deciding how they should be implemented. Recruitment plays an important part. When looking for candidates, select people for senior management who embrace collaboration and have valuable input and experience. A mix of personality and experience should be considered. Do they have the ability to think outside the box and are they open to new ideas?
Train new and current employees
Training for existing managers and employees is a necessity. It can be achieved with the help of third party trainers/consultants, someone outside the organization with a fresh perspective and ability to empower members of the organization. This might be a good approach as leaders often stand “too close” to their direct reports and may struggle to successfully identify their strengths and weaknesses. Business coaches are likely to give practical advice on how to increase collaboration and execute team building exercises.
One obstacle of cultural change is having different departments working well together. Sometimes they may even have contradicting business objectives. One important step is to get each manager on board and increase the incentives to communicate transparently with other departments. Each manager should focus on one mission respectively.
The CIO can improve collaboration by implementing technology and communication software, and to offer training to IT staff and the helpdesk team.
The CFO’s responsibility is to communicate the business goals clearly and to share successes. He or she should demonstrate the correlation between collaboration and company growth, and also how it can benefit the salary of each employee.
The CMO is responsible for the marketing strategy and has the perfect opportunity to visualize the collaborative vision with marketing materials for Social Media and print. Storytelling is a force to be reckoned with.
Most importantly the CEO is the captain of the ship and is expected to communicate clearly. Having an open door policy could be a good way to tune in with each department better.
Although each manager role has its specific responsibilities, here are some best practices to create a more collaborative and productive culture.
- Train employees regularly
- Provide the possibility for employees to plan their work day, remotely or in the office
- A reward system for employees when goals are met
- Collaborative office space where employees can meet to brainstorm and work on tasks together
- Invite employees to collaborate online with online tools
- Offer employees the possibility to socialize with others around non-work related activities
- Hire responsible, committed and transparent leaders who will follow through
How do you enhance in-office and remote collaboration?
To improve collaboration it is important to implement the right tools for communication that is also suitable for remote work. Whiteboards and physical meetings should be paired with collaborative digital tools so that employees can brainstorm and share their ideas freely.
Many leaders have concluded that online tools streamline communication which helps with getting work done faster. Instead of searching for a colleague down the hallway, you can get a prompt and clear response in a chat. Everything can be documented and stored for easy access.
Go for the right technology
When choosing a chat software or project management tool it’s best to go for simplicity and find a solution that works for the specific needs of the virtual team in question. Chat functionalities enables team members to work together in real time but also to connect for more informal events such as Friday afternoon games or random pep talk.
When communication is centered around other topics than work, employees have the opportunity to form good relationships with each other which can boost productivity and team collaboration. It also provides an alternative positive context besides the day to day tasks and issues.
Productive employees learn together
Encouraging employees to learn and grow together is a great way to increase productivity in the workplace. One effective way to do this is by offering compensation and career advancement opportunities to your staff. When employees see that they have a clear path for advancement and are given the right incentives, they are more likely to share their knowledge and collaborate with their colleagues.
This also presents an opportunity for managers to identify unique talents and skills within their team, especially in areas such as digitalization and collaboration.To prevent employees from working in silos, it's recommended to host regular group sessions for check-ins with all team members and departments.
During these sessions, managers should ask for feedback, set clear expectations, and have one-on-one meetings with each employee. These one-on-ones don't have to be lengthy, but it's important to take the opportunity to give spontaneous positive feedback to colleagues or team leaders.
In addition, it's crucial to provide valuable training to new employees. Praise should also be given openly, while critiques should be directed to individual employees or delivered in a more general manner. By fostering a culture of collaboration and continuous learning, companies can create a more productive and engaged workforce.
Don't overlook your remote workers - it's important to include them in your company culture. Informal meetings and get-togethers can help foster a sense of belonging among all team members. One practical solution is to create a group or channel where in-office and remote workers can share jokes and memes, similar to a traditional coffee room break where people engage in small talk.
Let the remote team meet up with in office team
Even if remote workers can't physically come into the office, consider inviting them to a fun video call at the end or beginning of the week to discuss highlights and recognize top performers. If possible, include remote workers in annual company events and cover their transportation and accommodation expenses.
Encourage creativity and motivation
To encourage creativity and motivation, consider activity-based work and providing comfortable and ergonomic furniture. Employees should have the flexibility to choose their preferred working environment, whether it's booking a certain area or room on a specific day or collaborating with colleagues.
Improved work-life balance
A flexible office culture can create great synergies between in-office and remote workers, leading to improved work-life balance and reduced overhead costs. At Flowscape, we offer in-app desk booking and room booking solutions that allow for hybrid working and collaboration wherever team members are located. Start building a collaborative culture today and experience the benefits of a flexible office!
Want guidance on how to set up your hybrid office for success?
Feel free to schedule a meeting with one of our product experts to learn more about our solutions and how technology can help you streamline your office processes without interfering with employees' day-to-day work.