The challenges of hybrid teams
Most companies embracing remote work also have dedicated headquarters. But remote-ish teams have even more communication and collaboration challenges than fully remote teams.
For example, in hybrid teams, remote employees are often left in the dark. Office workers are often heard, recognized, and promoted, while remote workers are forgotten.
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Hybrid companies function best when the entire company is optimized for remote work. Successful hybrid teams set up processes to help their remote workers thrive alongside their office teammates.
Leadership must acknowledge the various challenges remote workers face and create solutions. Create a remote work policy that keeps remote workers and contractors from feeling like second class team members. Remote workers should feel fully connected and not missing a thing.
The single biggest mistake companies can make is to opt to be remote-friendly instead of remote-first. Companies often accept the idea that remote is the future of work without creating an inclusive culture to ensure it works for everyone.
Remote-ish teams should adopt asynchronous communication as the primary source of correspondence.
While these opportunities are costly and require coordination, they pay ongoing dividends.
Video calls and other forms of synchronous communication still serves a function. However, synchronous communication should be made available asynchronously:
Create an explicit work-from-home policy for office employees that extends the benefits of remote work to office employees. Clearly outline the expectations of remote workers in documentation.
Ensure your guideline answers the following questions:
A few important areas where centralized and accessible documentation should exist:
Clear and concise documentation is crucial to empower individuals and teams with the information needed to do their work. It allows remote individuals to work more independently without having to wait for an answer.
While treating both remote and office employees fairly, they don't necessarily need to be treated the same. Consider the unique needs of each group and create policies and perks that address them.
There are mainly two ways to communicate within a company: synchronous and asynchronous communication. While the second type has always been widely practiced, as face-to-face meetings or any other in-person communication, the second type is just slowly being discovered.
In fact, asynchronous communication enables team members to respond to their colleagues whenever they can, without putting pressure on them that the answer should be provided immediately.
Physical presence does play a large part in moving our projects forward. Managing a project remotely requires a diligent and transparent approach to keep track and maintain the various tasks, deadlines and processes.
It's important to deploy a project management tool, assigning each different task to all the team members. Have regular check-ins and status update meetings. Having a singular place for distributing information ensures that team members do not complain that they were not updated or didn’t know where the specific file was.
Paul Graham’s 2009 essay, “Maker’s Schedule, Manager’s Schedule”, describes the differences that lead these these two factions to clash:
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