The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Everything's different, and yet everything's the same – that's how we can now look at managing teams in the era of remote and hybrid remote work.
Yes, how, when, and where we work is entirely different, even from just a few years ago. But what makes a great team and how to motivate people to deliver their best still relies on the same fundamentals.
Online or offline, what makes a great team and how to motivate people to deliver their best still relies on the same fundamentals.
Leading hybrid and remote teams well can increase your competitiveness in the market, and command higher compensation, as you will get more out of your team through higher job satisfaction, engagement, commitment, employee retention, and other benefits (see our hybrid remote statistics for more.)
Based on extensive research the team here at FlexOS has done, including conversations we've had with some of the top leaders, we recommend to start here:
- Establish Psychological Safety
- Set Your Team "Rules of Engagement"
- Power Up with Technology
- Meet Less, Meet Better
- Over-invest in One-on-Ones
- Create Intentional Office Days
- Foster Team Collaboration
- Take a New Approach to Performance Management
- Boost Hybrid Learning & Development
- Onboard Team Members Better
- Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Champion Well-Being
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1. Build Psychological Safety 🤗
Are you surprised to see psychological safety as the number one? The more we learn about hybrid and remote work, the more we see the importance of Psychological Safety. This article's strategies, software, or tools will only work if you establish this concept.
According to organizational behavioral scientist Amy Edmondson of Harvard, "Psychological safety refers to the shared belief among team members that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking." In other words, do I feel safe to be myself, and do my best? Amy's research shows that psychological safety increases creativity, productivity, job satisfaction, and employee retention.
On the other hand, a lack of psychological safety can lead to feelings of anxiety, withdrawal, and reduced willingness to contribute, which can negatively impact team performance, employee productivity, and organizational culture. According to McKinsey, only 27% of leaders create psychological safety, so you may have been on a team that suffered from a 'defensive culture.'
The message is clear: as a manager, it's essential to prioritize psychological safety within your team. When individuals feel safe to speak up and take risks, they are more likely to contribute to the team's success, be more creative and productive, enjoy their job more and not quit.
How to get started building psychological safety:
- Kick off your efforts by surveying how psychologically safe your team feels. We like Voltage Control's Miro template. To foster psychological safety within your team, encourage open communication and active listening. Create a space where individuals feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas without fear of negative consequences.
- Then, get to know each other better in a safe environment by writing and sharing Personal User Manual. It may sound basic, but going back to fundamentals is a great place to start building trust and safety between team members, even if they've worked together for years.
- Recognize and reward individuals who speak up and share their ideas, even if they still need to form them fully. Giving this recognition can help build confidence and trust within the team.
Key stat about psychological safety:
Software and tools to use:
- Workshop: Rising Team's Psychological Safety Kit, in which you'll write User Manuals outlining working style preferences and stories about workplace needs and struggles. You can also check out University of Illinois's "Cultures of Safety," a one-hour training for their Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion course to build effective team cultures.
- One-on-ones: use platforms like CultureAmp, Pingboard, and Lattice to run better one-on-ones, or download our one-on-one meeting template, or use our one-on-one questions generator, to strengthen the trust between you and individual team members.
- Feedback: providing regular feedback is a fundamental building block to creating a culture of trust and safety. Use the platforms above, as well as Officevibe, 15Five, and TinyPulse. Kona is a unique Slack-based solution that retrieves feedback in an engaging way.
- Employee input: Feedback should be a two-way street. Regularly allow your team to provide you with their input and feedback using often free employee survey tools. Check our article on engagement survey vendors if you want more in-depth options and support.
Read more about psychological safety:
- Harvard's Amy Edmondson's original research on psychological safety.
- Google's guide to understanding dynamics of effective teams, which starts with psychological safety.
- Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella's organizational framework "Model, Coach, Care," which focuses on implementing psychological safety.
- A deep-dive into the science behind why psychological safety works by Paul J Zak on Harvard Business Review.
2. Set Your Team Rules 📜
Whether your company has set a clear remote or hybrid work policy, you must ensure the 'rules of engagement' for remote work are crystal clear within your team. Research from Microsoft shows that only 28% of companies created clear team agreements. Setting clear expectations leads to clarity and improves your team's experience.
What is a team agreement? A team agreement is a set of rules about how a team, often consisting of different personalities with different preferences for how, where, when, and even why to work, can seamlessly work together, often within the context of your hybrid work schedule. It codifies how people should engage with each other, you as their manager, and the work itself.
Setting rules may sound formal and rigid, but even games need directions to ensure everyone can enjoy playing them. Setting these guidelines is foundational to managing your teams, creating clarity, and setting expectations about productivity, collaboration, and other matters that impact your success and everyone's satisfaction.
These rules of engagement or guidelines don't have to be like a typical "HR Policy." Instead, see them as a way to capture a mutual understanding between you and your team on how you'll work together. It is, however, good to clarify what happens if people don't adhere to the guideline.
How to create your Team Rules:
Key questions to answer in your rules of engagement include:
- Why did you choose this (new) working model?
- What are generally the expectations?
- How will you balance freedom and responsibility?
- Is everyone expected to work the same days and hours?
- Is there an opportunity to choose your starting time, or can people even entirely choose their hours?
- During which hours should they be available for meetings? (i.e., "Core Hours" of 10 AM-4 PM.)
- Which platforms are your team members expected to be responsive to, and how quickly are they expected to respond? Consider the differences between waiting on an email reply versus a Teams or Slack message.
- How should employees communicate that they cannot reply due to a sick day, holidays, meetings, etc.? How do people know they're "off"? Status signals from platforms like Slack and Teams are helpful here.
- If people are expected in the office, how many days per week can your team members work outside the office, and who chooses those days?
- Do you require in-office attendance for onboarding, training, town halls, and other gatherings?
- How is productivity measured? How will employees know they're doing well as the workplace becomes more output-focused?
- Are there milestones or OKRs that help keep everyone on track and measure progress?
For more key questions and considerations, see our hybrid work policy page with a free template that you can use to set the ground rules for how your team works.
Once you've set the team rules, share them your team members and discuss any question that it may trigger. From there, measuring and optimizing them over time is critical to understand if and how your team adhere to these rules so you can make appropriate changes and improvements over time.
Running frequent surveys to measure your team's satisfaction with the way you manage hybrid will give you valuable insights. Constantly listening and improving is critical to employee engagement and retention.
Key stat about Team Rules:
Software and tools to use:
- Documentation: Make sure the Rules of Engagement or Policy is easy to find. For this, you can use Notion, your Microsoft or Google Drive, Clickup Docs, or use a dedicated Employee Handbook tool like Blissbook.
- Check-In Tools: If you want to measure when people are in the office (for hybrid teams), you can use hot desk booking apps like Cafe or Kadence. For remote teams and other 'clock-in' needs, you can try Buddy Punch.
- Time Tracking: If you want to further insight, you can also use time management tools like ActivTrack, TimeDoctor, or Clockify. Remember to use these tools to help team members to work more effectively and guard work-life balance, rather than as a way to police them on how much they work. Let your team use a digital planner to keep track of priorities and time spent themselves as well.
Read more about Team Rules:
- Collaboration Superpowers has several great tips for writing your Team Rules
- Setting good rules means understanding team dynamics. This is a great article on the subject.
- Workplace Experience strategist Christie Hoffman shared her Employee Engagement Best Practices
3. Power Up with Technology ⚡
Recent FlexOS remote work research shows that experienced hybrid and remote managers tap into a wide range of software to manage their teams effectively. This makes sense, because when we don't work in the same place, we rely on technology to communicate and collaborate. The most commonly used technology for managing hybrid and remote teams include anything from video conferencing to AI meeting transcription.
According to Qualtrics, employees are 230% more engaged and 85% more likely to stay beyond three years if they have the necessary technology to support their work. This supports the finding that technology is the #2 need remote managers have.
How employees communicate, collaborate, and connect on- and off-site are fundamental qualities of the hybrid and remote employee experience: "Technology and workplace tools are, for all intents and purposes, the new workplace."
How to get started with remote work technology:
If you're ready to power up with software and technology, then here's what to do:
- Assess Your Team's Technology Needs. Start with a technology needs survey with your hybrid remote team. Ask your team if they have the necessary tools and technology to perform their jobs effectively and enjoyably. This open communication will give you insights into potential gaps or improvement areas.
- Familiarize Your Team with Essential Tools. Not everyone will know how to use the platforms you use. Provide links to basic tutorials or training resources for each platform to ensure everyone is on equal footing. Help them level up by providing cheat codes for becoming a pro at Slack, MS Teams, Notion, or whatever you use.
- Measure & Perfect. Don't introduce technology and forget about it! Actively track how your team uses the new tools you implemented through analytics and regular feedback sessions. Also, tap into success stories and share those with team members who are not adapting to new platforms as quickly as others.
Following these three steps creates a more rewarding, engaging, and valuable work experience for your team. Remember, technology is not just a tool; it's the new workplace, and investing in the right tools and training can substantially impact your team's enjoyment and performance.
Key stat about Remote Technology:
Software to use:
- Virtual meeting platforms like Microsoft Teams (88%)
- Remote collaboration tools and document-sharing platforms like Notion (60%)
- Instant messaging tools like Slack and Teams (46%)
- Time management tools like Time Doctor and Clockify (26%)
- Project management platforms like Monday.com and Clickup (25%).
- AI Meeting Transcription tools like Meetgeek and Fireflies.
- Desk booking software like Cafe and Kadence help plan office days and hot desking arrangement.
Read more about Remote Work Technology:
- HBR: "In a Hybrid World, Your Tech Defines Employee Experience."
- "Tech shame and remote working," a helpful perspective on 'non-tech' people.
- Tom Regan's deep dive on "How Employee Technology Leads to Business Success."
4. Meet Less, Meet Better 🤝
For hybrid and remote teams, meetings are essential. They ensure we stay aligned and connected and even beat social isolation when working from home.
But despite meetings' benefits, the ease of organizing and attending them, particularly online, has led to excessive meetings, with a significant portion being unproductive. This meeting overload disrupts people's ability to achieve flow and deep work, reducing their focus and concentration.
Studies show that reducing meetings positively impacts productivity, job satisfaction, autonomy, communication, cooperation, engagement and decreases stress and micro-management. Employees who own their to-do lists and have fewer meetings report higher satisfaction and improved work outcomes.
How to start meeting less and meeting better:
Give your team enough time to focus and get great work done by meeting well and meeting less. Practice these five tips to ensure your meetings are worthwhile and you get the most out of your time together.
- Have a clear agenda: A clear and concise agenda is essential for any meeting, but it's crucial for hybrid and remote team meetings. The agenda should outline the meeting's purpose, discussion topics, and expected outcomes. Share the agenda in advance so everyone can come prepared with their input.
- Choose the right meeting format: Instead of using only video conferencing, consider audio-only meetings, instant messaging, or email when appropriate. Different meeting formats can be more effective for different types of discussions or situations. For example, audio-only meetings may be more suitable for one-on-one conversations or quick check-ins, while video conferencing may be better for group discussions or presentations.
- Engage all participants: To ensure that all participants feel engaged and included in the meeting, encourage everyone to participate, give everyone a chance to speak, and actively listen to each other's ideas. Consider using interactive tools, like polls or breakout rooms, to promote engagement and interaction. We've rounded up some great platforms like this in 13 Online Meeting Platforms To Make Remote Work Effective And Engaging.
- Respect time zones and personal schedules: For hybrid and remote teams, time zones can be a significant challenge, as do expectations that people can arrange their schedules. To ensure everyone can attend the meeting, schedule it at a time that works for everyone and announce the meeting with plenty of time for people to fit it into their schedule (or ask for an alternative slot.) Consider rotating meeting times to accommodate everyone's schedules.
- Follow up: After the meeting, send out meeting minutes or a summary of what was discussed, including any action items or decisions made. Ensure everyone understands their responsibilities and deadlines, and follow up to ensure everything is on track. This will help to keep everyone accountable and informed. Note-taking tools like Fireflies keep a written record of every meeting, making it easier for everyone to have the right information and avoiding information asymmetry.
Key stat about hybrid and remote meetings:
Software and tools to use for better meetings:
- Creating better meeting agendas: Notion, Google Docs, Monday.com, ClickUp
- Best-in-class meeting platforms: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, BlueJeans, Whereby
- Automated meeting notes & to do's: Meetgeek, Fireflies, Otter, Grain
- Schedule meetings: Calendly, Clockwise
- Better one-on-ones: CultureAmp, Pingboard, Lattice, OfficeVibe
Read more about fewer and better meetings:
- Cindy Solomon's TED video "5 tips for dealing with meeting overload" explains how and why we end up in useless meetings.
- Our deep-dive on why we spend too much time in meetings, and the F.A.I.R. framework for better meetings.
- The foundational, "Dear Manager, You’re Holding Too Many Meetings," by Benjamin Laker and team in Harvard Business Review.
5. Over-invest in One-on-Ones 👥
Speaking of meetings, one meeting that's more critical than ever is the One-on-One.
One-on-ones provide dedicated time for managers and their direct reports to connect, discuss priorities, and address any challenges or concerns. These meetings help avoid some of the pitfalls of hybrid and remote work, including:
- Building trust: One-on-ones allow managers and direct reports to build trust and establish rapport. Building the same level of trust and connection as in-person can be challenging when working remotely, so one-on-ones are a valuable way to strengthen relationships.
- Addressing isolation: Remote work can be isolating, and one-on-ones provide dedicated time to connect and engage in meaningful conversations. Managers can use this time to check their direct reports' well-being, discuss concerns, and provide support and guidance.
- Fostering alignment: One-on-ones allow managers and direct reports to discuss priorities, set goals, and ensure everyone is aligned on the team's objectives. This can be especially important in a hybrid work environment where miscommunication is more likely to happen.
- Providing feedback: One-on-ones are an excellent opportunity for managers to provide feedback on their direct reports' performance, offer guidance and coaching, and recognize their achievements. In a remote work environment, it can be challenging to provide feedback regularly, so one-on-ones can be a valuable tool for performance management.
How to get started with One-on-Ones:
Convinced about the power of one-on-ones? Here is how to get started:
- Schedule and Prioritize the Meetings: As a remote manager, the first step is to schedule one-on-one meetings with each team member. Don't treat these meetings as an afterthought; prioritize them by scheduling them first on your calendar. Consistency is key, so set a regular cadence for these meetings, whether weekly or bi-weekly, depending on your team's size, member experience, and preferences.
- Communicate Expectations in Advance: Before each one-on-one meeting, send a message to your team member outlining the purpose and expectations for the upcoming meeting. Encourage them to come prepared with any topics they'd like to discuss, questions, concerns, or feedback they may have. This ensures you and your team members are ready to make the most of the meeting.
- Active Listening and Constructive Feedback: During the one-on-one meeting, focus on listening actively. Ask open-ended questions to encourage your team member to share their thoughts, challenges, and aspirations. Listen carefully to their responses, avoid interrupting, and let them speak freely. When providing feedback, make sure it is constructive, supportive, and focused on helping them improve and grow in their roles.
- Goal Setting and Personal Development: Use these meetings as an opportunity to set clear expectations and goals with your team member. Discuss their current tasks, responsibilities, and projects, and ensure they understand what is expected of them. Identify areas where they may need additional support or resources to achieve their objectives. Additionally, talk about their personal development and career goals, and collaborate on creating a customized development plan to help them grow professionally.
- Follow-Up and Support: Take detailed notes during the meeting and follow up on action items in subsequent one-on-ones. Show your team member that you value their progress and well-being by providing ongoing support and guidance. Use the meetings to celebrate their achievements, address challenges, and keep communication lines open.
To get the most value out of one-on-ones, invest in training team members to take an active role and get more value from these meetings.
Key stat about one-on-ones:
Software and tools for better one-on-ones:
- Collaborative one-on-one notes: Fellow, CultureAmp, Pingboard, Lattice, OfficeVibe
- Meeting Scheduling and Calendar Management: Google Calendar, Microsoft Outlook, Calendly, Doodle, Clockwise
- Best-in-class meeting platforms: Microsoft Teams, Zoom, BlueJeans, Whereby
- Automated meeting notes: Meetgeek, Fireflies, Otter, Grain
Read more about one-on-ones:
- The FlexOS guide to better one-on-ones and our one-on-one templates and eBook.
- The foundational "How to Make Your One-on-Ones with Employees More Productive," by Rebecca Knight on HBR.
- The one-on-one guide on the Lattice website has a lot of practical tips and sample questions to ask.
6. Create Intentional Office Days 🥳
When physically together, we more easily create shared understanding, feel connected, and collaborate. But that doesn't mean the employees want to come to the office – because we've learned how to do much of that from anywhere. In short, if you want them in the office, you better have something compelling to offer.
FlexOS research shows employees' reasons for coming to the office are human. Collaboration, focused work, and socializing with colleagues were ranked the highest among all options. Companies like Coca-Cola have set clear purposes for their in-office days: "For us at Coke, it's about the three C's: co-creation, collaboration, and celebration." Those are a great place to start although it's missing the fourth C of Community at Work.
Intentional office days combine all the elements that make commuting worth it, starting with team meetings, collaboration sessions, and co-working activities.
But, with flexibility comes a new hassle: scheduling office days: 38% of employees say their greatest hybrid challenge is knowing when or why to come into the office. With employees sometimes having spent almost two years successfully working from home, that's no wonder.
Managers can either set fixed office days (also called "organized hybrid,") or use hybrid work scheduling tools to ensure their teams get together on the same day. This prevents people from coming to the office and being disappointed because there's no one there and losing the motivation for future office days.
How to design better in-office days:
Better office days for hybrid teams start with understanding your 'why', and then address the 'who', 'how', and 'where.'
- Define Purpose: Clearly outline the objectives for in-office days, focusing on collaboration, team meetings, and fostering a sense of community.
- Optimize Scheduling: Use Hybrid Work Scheduling tools or set up a group poll to coordinate and plan office days, ensuring teams align their presence for effective collaboration.
- Prioritize Interaction: Encourage real-time communication and interaction among team members during in-office days, fostering collaboration and strengthening connections.
- Emphasize Team Engagement: Plan co-working activities, team-building exercises, and socializing opportunities to enhance office experience and employee satisfaction.
- Record Knowledge: Document ideas and outcomes generated on in-office days using tools like Google Docs or Notion, facilitating seamless collaboration between office and remote settings.
Key stat about great hybrid office days:
Best software and tools for better in-office days:
- Collaboration and Communication Tools. Software platforms that facilitate real-time collaboration and communication among team members can enhance in-office days and connect better to those remote. Examples include Microsoft Teams, Slack, and Zoom.
- Documentation. Tools that help you document and store knowledge generated on in-office days, so that you can consistently collaborate on office and non-office days. Examples include Google Docs, Notion, Basecamp, Coda, and Almanac. Project management tools like Monday.com, Asana, ClickUp, and others can be helpful here too. Using AI meeting transcription tools like Meetgeek, Fireflies, Otter, Grain helps you avoid information asymmetry without the extra work.
- Hybrid Work Scheduling Tools. Software tools that assist in scheduling and coordinating office days for hybrid teams can ensure that employees come to the office on the same days. Examples include Scoop, Cafe, Envoy, Robin, and Kadence.
- Proper hardware to capture audio and video well is highly recommended. Too often, the person or people joining remotely don't enjoy "AV Equity" and can only catch part of the conversation.
Read more about great office days:
- Chris Capossela's "To Get People Back in the Office, Make It Social" in Harvard Business Review
7. Foster Team Collaboration 🧩
Collaboration is essential for any team because we are more than the sum of our parts. Remote collaboration brings together diverse perspectives, fosters creativity, promotes shared ownership, and enables the achievement of collective goals beyond the reach of individual efforts.
Is collaboration more difficult in hybrid remote teams? According to managers, no: over 80% said that collaboration is not a key challenge. But company executives have the opposite perspective, which is a perspective we often have to correct. The rise of asynchronous work adds to this.
The bottom line is that fully remote teams quickly find ways to collaborate well, regardless of location. On the other hand, hybrid teams experience significantly more coordination challenges than those working face-to-face.
The risk is that "fault lines" emerge between those working together in person and remotely. Because of the extra effort required to coordinate with remote teammates, they get left out of small exchanges and minor decisions made by those working together in the office.
Over time, as people get accustomed to who's looped in and who's not, they can get left out of more extensive conversations and important decisions.
How to collaborate well in hybrid and remote teams:
Managers have to put in this extra effort and ensure an inclusive and equitable approach to collaboration. Key elements to keep in mind:
- Build relationships and trust. Like the first point of this article about psychological safety, trust comes first. You'd forgive your best friend much more than someone you're not as close to, so building trust is critical to boosting empathy and creating a context for mutual success. Small things like being mindful of time zones when you plan synchronous collaboration sessions can help build trust.
- Ensure information flows easily between those in-office and remote by making it standard practice to always work in collaborative documents and recapping in-person meetings in Teams or Slack channels, Notions, or other easily searchable collaboration tools.
- Train the team on the 'why' behind this. Most of us have never had to transparently 'work in public' by default. The move from local Word files to online, live documents and from private conversations to channels helps everyone access the same information, but there needs to be buy-in from the team first.
- Set clear outcomes for the team to achieve. When desired outcomes are clear, successfully collaborating is more manageable regardless of place and format, in-person or online.
- Get everyone on the same level of platform and tool comprehension. See also the technology section above.
Key stat about remote collaboration:
Software and tools for better remote collaboration:
Shocking research from Vyopta shows that most company executives think it's up to the employee to find and use the right collaboration software. Taking advantage of this, managers should look into at least these categories:
- Video conferencing: tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom, BlueJeans, Whereby, Around
- Brainstorming and whiteboarding tools like Mural, Miro, InVision, and Butter
- Knowledge management and documentation: platforms like Notion and Coda
- AI Meeting Transcription tools like Meetgeek and Fireflies
Read more about hybrid and remote collaboration:
- Gartner has a helpful quadrant, highlighting that 4 Modes of Collaboration Are Key to Success in Hybrid Work
- Martine Haas, a Professor of Management at the Wharton School, wrote about "5 Challenges of Hybrid Work — and How to Overcome Them"
8. Keep Score Differently 📈
Managing the performance of hybrid and remote team members requires a new approach. It's time to set clear performance expectations and provide feedback that helps team members improve their performance.
Executives often raise concerns about hybrid and remote productivity (how efficiently a person completes a task) have been raised. The research disagrees, as almost all managers like you say their teams and themselves are now more productive working from home.
Either way, it's clear that hybrid and remote workers need a different approach to productivity with a focus on outputs and outcomes. Outcome-focused work gives people much-needed autonomy at work to determine when they're most productive and creative, and instill the trust needed for high-performing remote teams.
How to manage productivity and performance:
- Redefine productivity for the remote age. Focus on outcomes, not on hours spent. Microsoft's Chief Scientist Jaime Teevan suggests focusing on completing smaller work moments throughout the day.
- Make it frequent. The world is moving too fast to review performance once a year. Go for a more informal, on-the-go style of reviewing and providing feedback via line managers. This helps people look forward and boosts effectiveness. Employees want regular informal feedback and recognition for their work to stay on track and keep their motivation up. While this happened organically in an office, with few (sometimes not even overlapping) days together, this can be challenging.
- Set balanced targets. What does (high) performance look like for your team? If targets are too easy, they won't improve performance. People rarely try to hit them if they are out of reach. Where possible, focus on outcomes, not outputs. The best targets are attainable with a healthy stretch. Per Gallup, good goals directly impact your business outcomes and motivate employees by showing them their influence on the big picture.
- Track transparently. Ensure you have the right tools for tracking progress. You can use Performance modules in your HRIS like Bob or BambooHR, or a dedicated solution like 15Five. Tracking transparently reduces employee anxiety and "Toxic Productivity."
- Guide where work happens to boost productivity. Help your team assess which activities are best done on-site. Let them build productive work days by understanding which works is best done where and when.
- Keep it equitable. Team members must feel that their performance, reflecting their achievement, team collaboration, and customer value, is reviewed fairly and comprehensively. But proactive, hard-working remote employees earn smaller pay raises and fewer promotions. Train managers to focus on the numbers, not their feelings towards people, often skewed by attendance and “Productivity Paranoia.”
Key statistic about hybrid remote performance:
Software and tools to use for hybrid remote performance:
- Project Management: Asana, Trello, Monday.com.
- Performance Tracking: Workday, Lattice, Small Improvements. You can also use Performance modules in your HRIS like Bob or BambooHR, or a dedicated solution like 15Five.
- Collaboration and Document Sharing: Slack, Microsoft SharePoint, Google Workspace.
Read more about performance and productivity:
- Start with our deep-dive guide into performance and productivity for hybrid remote teams.
- Microsoft's Chief Scientist Jaime Teevan's excellent redefining productivity for the hybrid era in HBR
9. Boost Learning & Development 🎓
Learning and development have always been the best tools managers have to engage and retain their top team members. Learning and development have always been the best tools managers have to engage and retain their top team members.
They equip team members with the skills and knowledge to excel and adapt as your industry and company evolve.
Beyond supporting career growth and fostering innovation, it contributes to personal development and resilience, ultimately lifting job satisfaction and retention – which helps you in getting the most out of your team.
How to get started with remote learning & development:
- Understand Your Team and Goals: Write down your team's unique traits and goals.
- Plan Individual Learning Journeys: For each team member, pinpoint what skills and knowledge they need to excel. Separate what can be learned on the job, collaboratively, or through formal training.
- Decide Learning Locations: Determine which learning activities suit different locations. Individual skills training might be best done online and asynchronously. Other training may be better delivered in person, for example, on hybrid in-office days or at team retreats. Blend different approaches, aligning with the hybrid work style.
- Embrace Creative Spaces: Consider alternative spaces for longer workshops or creative sessions. A change in environment can spark fresh ideas. This includes being creative with virtual meeting platforms.
- Ensure Learning Accessibility: Regardless of where team members are located, ensure everyone can access learning opportunities, maintaining inclusivity.
Key statistic about hybrid learning & development:
Software and Tools to Use:
- The highly engaging TED Together Icebreaker is a fun way to infuse more L&D into your team.
10. Onboard New Team Members Better 👋
Onboarding is a pressing issue, particularly in hybrid and remote teams. Most new hires don't feel adequately prepared and supported post-onboarding. A significant 10% of employees left companies due to subpar new hire experiences.
This is a pity, because onboarding is widely recognized by experts like Gallup as crucial because it sets the foundation for new hires' success, engagement, and integration within the organization.
And while you may not fully control the onboarding experience, you can play a crucial role in making onboarding a success and reap the benefits!
How to improve onboarding:
- Customize the Onboarding: Tailor the onboarding experience for each new hire. Recognize that hybrid and remote contexts demand a unique approach to accommodating their needs.
- Structured Onboarding Phases: Follow Gitlab's advice by dedicating the initial week, ideally two, to onboarding. Focus on three dimensions: organizational, technical, and social.
- Organizational Onboarding: Initiate this on the first day, allowing new hires to familiarize themselves with company handbooks and codes of conduct.
- Technical Onboarding: Standardize this phase, ensuring inclusivity for individuals with diverse backgrounds and abilities.
- Social Onboarding: Introduce new hires to their supervisor and team promptly. Leverage tools like chat channels and coffee chats to encourage social connections, even in a remote setup.
- Engage Early: Initiate the onboarding journey with "pre-boarding" activities to engage new team members before their official start date.
- Clear Expectations: From the outset, make expectations transparent, clarifying roles and responsibilities.
- Summarize Achievements and Goals: Provide a comprehensive summary of their achievements and onboarding goals after the process.
- Assign Onboarding Buddy: Facilitate a smoother onboarding experience by assigning a seasoned team member as an onboarding buddy.
Key statistic about onboarding:
Software and Tools for better remote onboarding:
- To offer a streamlined onboarding experience, you can use specialized platforms like Lattice, Pingboard, Workable.
- Many HRIS system also offer this, so you may want to convince HR to switch to a modern platform like HiBob, Deel, or BambooHR.
- Offer your team our free 30 60 90 day plan generator to get a head start, including their perspective on managing up.
Read more about remote onboarding:
- Microsoft's Dawn Klinghoffer wrote a fantastic article in Harvard Business Review about how "Every New Employee Needs an Onboarding “Buddy”"
- Gallup's "8 Practical Tips for Leaders for a Better Onboarding Process" is another classic
- On Microsoft's site you can find a more recent, and valuable, "Strategies for Onboarding in a Hybrid World"
11. Promote Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging 💕
The rise of hybrid and remote work introduces both opportunities and challenges regarding diversity and equity.
Brian Chesky, CEO of Airbnb, underscores that flexibility can enhance diversity by expanding the talent pool beyond limited geographic boundaries, ultimately enriching perspectives.
However, achieving equity can be complex, as hybrid and remote models may inadvertently create disparities between in-office and remote workers. Ensuring fairness across locations and remote setups becomes an important mission to pursue.
How to improve DEIB in Hybrid and Remote Teams:
- Embrace Diverse Hiring: Emphasize broader recruitment strategies, considering people who can't work on-site or come from diverse geographical backgrounds, creating diversity in your team.
- Prioritize Cultural Contribution: Shift focus from culture fit to cultural contribution and values alignment during the hiring process, fostering a diverse and inclusive team.
- Combat Inequities: Be proactive in preventing contrasts between in-office and remote workers, ensuring equal opportunities for growth, recognition, and compensation.
- Empathy and Kindness: Practice empathy, particularly for those navigating unique circumstances while working remotely, as fostering a supportive environment is essential.
- Harness Emotional Intelligence: As a manager, develop emotional intelligence to comprehend team members' emotions, address conflicts, and cultivate a positive work atmosphere.
- Amplify Voices: Provide a platform for all team members to voice their opinions, especially marginalized groups. Consider creating affinity groups like Remoter Culture Connections (RCCs) to foster collaboration and support initiatives.
Key statistic about DEIB:
Software and Tools for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Belonging:
- CultureMonkey is a great tool to send surveys focused on DEIB and OfficeVibe has a dedicated DEIB survey template.
Read more about DEIB in Hybrid and Remote Teams:
- Buffer has a great article on "Why We’ve Stopped Saying “Culture Fit” and What We’re Saying Instead"
- Follow McKinsey's "Hybrid work: Making it fit with your diversity, equity, and inclusion strategy" for tailored practical tips
- Alexandra Samual, who wrote one of our favorite remote work books "Remote, Inc." has a fantastic article on HBR
12. Champion Well-Being 🥗
The shift to hybrid and remote work has raised concerns about well-being, particularly in an "always-on" work culture that affects work-life balance. A significant challenge faced by hybrid workers is maintaining this equilibrium.
All the more reason to address employee well-being, as data shows that extended workdays, after-hours tasks, and increased communication can adversely affect mental health and productivity.
How to improve Wellbeing in Hybrid and Remote Teams:
- Set Clear Expectations: Combat misinterpretation by clarifying and communicating individual Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and Objectives and Key Results (OKRs), reducing stress and promoting transparency.
- Prioritize Downtime: Incorporate rest periods into your hybrid or remote work policy, mirroring practices like DBS's Focus Friday Afternoons and Manpower's "Right to Disconnect."
- Foster Work-Life Harmony: Adapt work schedules to support employees' preferred working hours, following the example of the eCommerce platform BAEMIN, enabling flexible start times for a harmonious work-life balance.
- Create Dedicated Blocks: Encourage productive work arrangements by allowing employees to design non-office days for solo and collaborative tasks.
Key statistic about Wellbeing:
Next Level Hybrid Remote Team Management: Your Action Plan
To take your hybrid remote team management to the next level, taking these 12 steps will help you be the boss in no time:
- Establish Psychological Safety
- Set Your "Rules of Engagement"
- Embrace Technology
- Run GREAT Meetings
- Over-invest in One-on-Ones
- Create Intentional Office Days
- Foster Team Collaboration
- Take a New Approach to Performance Management
- Boost Hybrid Learning & Development
- Onboard Team Members Better
- Promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
- Champion Well-Being
Why Managers Are More Important Than Ever
You are so important, especially now. Managers play a crucial role in organizations because we create social capital and serve as connection points between upper-level leadership and employees. Humu research highlights the importance of managers as change agents who can make or break employee experience:
- Employees are 7.9 times more likely to stay when offered regular growth opportunities by their managers.
- Teams with great managers have 78% more psychological safety, the most significant predictor of team effectiveness.
- Managers are also vital to combatting burnout and improving DEI.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasized the importance of managers as "full-service concierges" in the context of remote and hybrid work models on Adam Grant's Work Life podcast. And Harvard researchers concluded that "the key to successful hybrid working is good management."
Hopefully, this guide will be helpful on your journey to lead successful hybrid teams. As always, I remind that hybrid is a spectrum and that many things have yet to be figured out. It truly is a journey to get the best out of your hybrid and remote management. And I'm glad to share insights that can help make this time less confusing.
- Find your perfect remote management book by speaking to Lexi, our AI Assistant
- Start one of the best remote team management training courses from Coursera, Gitlab, Stanford, and more
- Kona wrote a fantastic Remote Manager Survival Guide with over 60 pages of key stats, manager best practices, expert interviews