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In the new year, as businesses manage the gradual return to the office, some team members will be able to come back while others may need to continue working remotely.
When firms begin to navigate the complexities of returning to the office, some employees will have to contend with challenges around childcare, health issues that prevent them from returning to work, anxiety and other factors. By contrast, other employees will be racing back to the office as they may have found working from home to be isolating or challenging in other ways. all of this creates a new challenge for managers – how to manage a hybrid team, where some people are in the office and others continue to work remotely.
Avoid creating an atmosphere of “them versus us”. Set expectations and make accountability clear to all staff so that both home and office-based employees can work together productively and know who is doing what.
As part of this, you might run daily or weekly meetings with your entire team to start each day or week on the right foot, then share progress regularly on key projects with the entire team to maintain momentum.
This will help you and your team know who is working when and where. Sharing your work calendars will help to further boost visibility of this crucial information, enabling your team to know what each person is doing at any one time, including colleagues who they do not physically sit next to in the same space.
Remote workers can miss out on face-to-face interaction. This means you’ll need to think carefully about how you can make them feel equally included via virtual remote meetings, during which you as the leader might be sitting next to an office-based member of your team.
When communicating with remote team workers, choose voice or video over email or chat, depending on the task. Seeing and hearing you regularly will help your remote staff to feel included and part of the team. Encourage your remote workers to switch on their video when attending team meetings.
Once COVID-19 is over and government restrictions lift, it can help team unity, harmony and morale if you arrange occasional opportunities for your hybrid team members to meet and get to know each other face-to-face. In “normal times” maybe try to arrange an all-team social or dinner, every 6 months. The relationships that are built through these events will help your team to function better as a unit.
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