đź“ť

Managing hybrid teams

Managing hybrid teams

How to manage employees in a non-co-located team

OBJECTIVES

This fact sheet provides an introduction to the management of hybrid teams, combining face-to-face and remote staff. It provides :

  • a presentation of the specific challenges of managing hybrid teams
  • an analysis of the impact of a hybrid situation on teams and management,
  • practical tools for managers to face these challenges.

DESCRIPTION

The health crisis of the years 2020-2022 was a catalyst for the transformation of working methods: forced to adopt a 100% remote mode for a time, then a mixed face-to-face and remote mode, companies were able to draw important lessons from this experience (unprecedented for some of them): studies show that teams are as productive in these configurations as in face-to-face work and that the hybrid mode is favoured by the majority of employees.

This stressful experience has removed many of the beliefs about remote working to the extent that in August 2020, 90% of managers indicated that they were ready to adopt hybrid working on a long-term basis, indicating that their company had been as productive since its introduction.

More and more, the hybrid mode is becoming a standard operating mode. In addition to the productivity gains experienced by some companies, it responds to a desire on the part of employees to telework more frequently and also opens the door to new opportunities: recruiting talent "where they are", reducing costs and the environmental footprint.

A hybrid team is a mixed organisation: not all managers and employees are co-located. Several hybrid team configurations are possible:

  • The whole team is remote (teleworking at home, in a co-working space, etc.);
  • Part of the team is co-located and some people are split individually in several locations;
  • All team members alternate between face-to-face and remote work.

It should be noted that, whatever the organisational model of a team, the expected role of the manager remains unchanged: to recruit and integrate, to share objectives, to organise, to steer the activity, to evaluate and accompany.

The management and monitoring of team performance are particularly affected by this paradigm shift: indeed, the manager can no longer have clear visibility at all times on the activity of his or her teams; the usual levers for measuring the performance of employees are no longer relevant in this context. In this organisational model, performance is necessarily linked to objectives and results: it is therefore appropriate to develop FAST (Frequently Discussed, Ambitious, Specific and Transparent) objectives rather than SMART objectives.

Hybrid configurations require the manager to find a new way of fulfilling his role and managing his team.

In addition to the problems and challenges of remote management, inherent to these team configurations, it must also face new challenges, specific to this mixed situation. Indeed, unlike the 100% remote or 100% face-to-face configuration, a new variable emerges: that of choice.

  • At the first level, there is the company's choice: what organisational framework will it fit into (weekly duration of telework, etc.)?
  • Then there is the manager's choice: how should these rules be applied to the team, taking care to ensure fairness, the preservation of team spirit, etc.?
  • Finally, the preferences of the employees within the imposed framework are added to the equation, which they can choose according to their ability to manage the distance.

These choices have impacts :

1. Distance can lead to inequality of treatment within a hybrid team: those present in the office are "close" to the manager, have access to all resources (screen, printer, support from those present...). They are also "visible" to other employees, managers, etc.

Furthermore, employees who have no choice but to be in the workplace because of the nature of their profession (workers, maintenance, production plants, physical shops, etc.) will inevitably be treated differently, so that a new subject of "diversity and inclusion" could emerge in their regard.

2. Both modalities, face-to-face and remote, have their own advantages (collaboration time vs. substantive work) and it is advisable for the manager to take full advantage of the benefits of each modality, in particular by avoiding "distorting" them by trying to reproduce for the hybrid team a classic scheme, designed for a co-located or "full remote" team.

3. The alternation between face-to-face and distance learning can also have an impact on the feeling of belonging to a team. Indeed, as the team rarely (if ever) meets in its entirety, new dynamics emerge: sub-systems are set up (bands, sub-teams, etc.). The employee feels more a part of the sub-system than of the team as a whole.

4. One of the tendencies observed among managers of newly hybrid teams is to reinforce, or even multiply, their control actions. This approach, which is not very effective, can be counter-productive: the resulting overload on employees (over-solicitation, exacerbated reporting) can lead to exhaustion and, at the very least, to a loss of efficiency or concentration.

These impacts raise specific issues for the manager in the hybrid situation, to name a few:

  • How to maintain team cohesion and a uniform feeling of belonging among employees?
  • How can we ensure uniform sharing of information among members of a hybrid team?
  • What managerial approaches should be adopted for effective hybrid management?
  • How can a results-oriented culture be established in the long term to effectively manage hybrid teams?

PUT INTO PRACTICE

A hybrid team is a mixed team: face-to-face and remote. Because of this last characteristic, all the managerial keys and good operational practices of remote management apply;

We will focus here on the specific issues of the hybrid. Physical distance removes the unity of place and reduces opportunities for collective time (co-location, spontaneous meetings, etc.), which can lead to a loss of the feeling of belonging, of adherence to a common vision, and even to disengagement. In addition, the hybrid approach may lead to inequality between team members and a choice between the two methods (face-to-face and remote) depending on the time and the person.

1. Fairness: offering all employees the same level of support

It is important to "educate" people about the impact of the hybrid mode and the possible biases it generates, because those who are at a distance do not realise what they are missing out on, and those who are in the office do not realise what they are accessing in addition. To face this challenge, the manager must ensure that a culture of psychological safety is created in which expressing one's needs is possible and encouraged (see team spirit and alliance below).

The manager must indeed know the needs of the different members of his team in order to adapt to them as best as possible (different needs for inclusion from one person to another, need for freedom, need for control, etc.): being at a distance can be a time of psychological "breathing space" for some, or of "frustration" due to the lack of contact for others. Well-being at work is a factor in performance: it is therefore essential to ensure that this relational dimension is maintained or reinforced in one's management style (to "really know" one's employees).

The manager must also pay particular attention to the level of support offered to his employees:

  • By avoiding "favouritism " towards face-to-face employees or disengaging from remote employees;
  • By including all employees in communications and information sharing;

o By avoiding exchanges between co-located employees at the expense of those who are at a distance (parallel discussions, etc.). - By emphasising the contribution of each employee (visibility, etc.); - By reducing, as far as possible, the biases of distance (technologies, etc.); - By avoiding corridor exchanges which turn into meetings in which a contributing employee does not take part because he or she is not present in the office: invite him or her to join the exchange (videoconference) or plan an ad hoc meeting;

  • By constructing objectives consistent with the hybrid situation (e.g. limited access to certain resources, etc.).

2. Optimisation: taking full advantage of the benefits of each modality

Both face-to-face and distance learning have clear advantages: - Face-to-face training encourages collaboration, teaming, collective intelligence, co-creation, relationships and a sense of belonging;

  • while remote work is more suitable for work requiring a high degree of concentration (background work).

It is therefore important for the manager to take full advantage of the benefits of each modality, in particular by avoiding "distorting" them by trying to reproduce for the hybrid team a classic scheme designed for a co-located team. For example, taking part in several meetings during the day can alter the concentration of remote employees:

  • In order to limit interruptions that can impair the concentration of remote employees, it is recommended to develop asynchronous modes of operation. This means, for example, organising short follow-up points at the beginning or end of the day.
  • Meetings (which are still necessary for the health of the team or the project) should focus on subjects requiring collaboration (strategy, decision, complexity, etc.), cooperation, or on delicate personal subjects (personal difficulties, conflicts, etc.), or even on what can strengthen the team spirit (celebrations, reviews, etc.).

The manager should also take care to involve his employees in the process of defining the rules of operation of the hybrid team in order to create a strong alliance: as each team is unique, it is important not to impose a "ready-made recipe" which would weaken the system.

  • The manager must take the time to evaluate the preference of the employees between telework and office work, to assess their level of autonomy and capacity to manage their activity in each of the modalities...
  • The operating mode defined will also have to be optimised in that it will be necessary to adapt the work modality to the task to be carried out: define the tasks that can be carried out asynchronously and/or remotely vs. those that can only be carried out face-to-face, alone or in teams, etc.

o For example: tasks requiring a high degree of concentration (gathering data, carrying out market research, building business plans, etc.) can be carried out asynchronously and remotely; unlike tasks requiring creativity (innovation, ideation, etc.) which are catalysed by exchanges: brainstorming in the meeting room, corridor exchanges, discussions between two meetings, etc. These exchanges are more recurrent and more effective if the employees are co-located.

3. Esprit d’équipe : favoriser les relations et échanges entre les membres de  l’équipe

Le rôle du manager est de recréer des rituels, des codes, des méthodes de travail, communs  et collectifs afin de catalyser l’esprit d’équipe :

  • En cartographiant les modalitĂ©s de travail des collaborateurs afin d’organiser les rotations de manière adĂ©quate (par exemple en s’appuyant sur une application de type "CafĂ©" ou "Flydesk") ;

o L’objectif n’est pas ici de surveiller "qui est où ?" mais plutôt d’anticiper au  mieux (organisation des tâches, des rotations, des rituels d’équipes, etc.) afin  de s’assurer de l’intégration de l’ensemble des collaborateurs.

  • En instaurant des rituels d’équipes (cĂ©lĂ©bration des succès de l’équipe, anniversaires…) et en les organisant en co-crĂ©ation avec l’équipe ;
  • En posant l’alliance de l’équipe dans un contexte hybride (règles et bonnes pratiques pour mener les rĂ©unions, etc.) en tenant compte des prĂ©fĂ©rences individuelles et des besoins de la fonction… ;
  • En favorisant les relations entre les personnes Ă  distance et celles co-localisĂ©es, en confiant par exemple des tâches Ă  des binĂ´mes hybrides (un collaborateur Ă  distance + un collaborateur en prĂ©sentiel) ;
  • En encourageant les temps collectifs informels (cafĂ©s en visioconfĂ©rence, cours de sport commun Ă  distance ou en prĂ©sentiel, team building ou animations en “phygital”) ;
  • En pensant les temps en prĂ©sentiel comme des moments clĂ© pour (re-)crĂ©er de la cohĂ©sion : moments de collaboration, de coopĂ©ration, de cĂ©lĂ©bration…

o Ce changement de paradigme doit également constituer une opportunité pour  repenser les espaces de travail en présentiel pour favoriser les nouvelles  fonctions sociales que prendront de plus en plus les bureaux : convivialité,  créativité, espaces collaboratifs...

4. Posture managériale : adapter son approche managériale

Pour une équipe hybride, l’émergence de temps de collaboration asynchrones nécessite de  développer au fil de l’eau la responsabilisation et l’autonomie des collaborateurs. En effet,  le manager ne peut plus avoir une visibilité claire et en tout temps de l’activité de ses équipes.  Néanmoins, là où une organisation 100% à distance permet difficilement de mesurer la  maturité des collaborateurs en matière d’autonomie, une organisation hybride offre les  moyens nécessaires à cette évaluation de par l’alternance des temps "à proximité" et des  temps à distance.

Pour tirer pleinement partie de l’organisation hybride et manager efficacement ses équipe,  l’approche du manager doit devenir adaptative. Pour ce faire, le manager veillera à : • développer l’autonomie et la responsabilisation (empowerment) des collaborateurs,  en leur accordant et leur démontrant sa confiance. Hemingway disait : “le meilleur  moyen de savoir si on peut faire confiance à quelqu’un, c’est de lui faire confiance”.

  • dĂ©velopper son leadership situationnel. Cela consiste en l'adaptation de son  approche managĂ©riale en tenant compte de la motivation et de l’autonomie du  collaborateur par rapport Ă  une compĂ©tence donnĂ©e. Cette approche reste probante avec une  équipe hybride.
  • trouver le bon Ă©quilibre afin d’être suffisamment en visibilitĂ© vis-Ă -vis de ses Ă©quipes  pour rester accessible malgrĂ© la distance sans pour autant devenir envahissant (sur sollicitation).
  • dĂ©velopper une posture de manager-coach, qui offre des mĂ©thodes et une boĂ®te Ă   outils efficaces et pertinentes dans lesquelles le manager pourra puiser en fonction de la situation : spĂ©cificitĂ©s de travail, caractĂ©ristiques de son Ă©quipe, personnalitĂ©, dĂ©fis.

La posture manager-coach permettra ainsi l’adoption des comportements  suivants particulièrement adaptés à gérer efficacement des équipes hybrides :

o Ouverture

Favoriser inclusion, notamment des collaborateurs à distance avec peu de  compétences relationnelles (aller les chercher, les faire s’exprimer) dans un souci  d’équité et de développement d’esprit d’équipe

o Curiosité

S’intéresser aux conditions de chacun quelque soit sa localisation (challenges,  facilités…)

o Flexibilité

S’adapter à chaque situation rencontrée par l’équipe (interne et externe)

o Présence

Cultiver sa présence (même à distance) : "comment je peux me rendre présent ici  et maintenant" sans ouvrir la porte à la sur-sollicitation par les équipes

o Questionnement et Ă©coute actives

Rendre visible l’invisible, notamment sur les difficultés, les succès, le suivi des  objectifs

Se donner les moyens d’être équitable

o Responsabiliser

Développer l’autonomie et la responsabilisation (empowerment) des  collaborateurs

Mettre du cadre (objectifs FAST, feedback permanent, GROW…)

o Se focaliser sur le potentiel et les capacités du collaborateur

  • Faire confiance et donner confiance
  • Permettre Ă  l’autre de rĂ©aliser son potentiel et ses objectifs quel que soit le mode organisationnel privilĂ©giĂ©