7 Tips for successfully managing a Hybrid work environment

Succeeding at Hybrid is Thinking Distributed

Photo by Aleks Marinkovic on Unsplash

Think of “remote” as a euphemism for “second class citizens” in an employee class system…Instead say “Distributed Team”, “Work from Home” or “Work from Anywhere”

Terminology is super important in setting the tone. As we plan post-pandemic, I’ve seen Clubhouse and other sessions popping up with titles like “The plan for Return to Work”. What does that tell your employees you think they’ve been doing? Many studies say employees are working harder than they ever have. Work has been integrated deeply into their homes and every waking hour. Yet terminology like this tells our employees we think the opposite is happening and we don’t quite trust them to stay focused and get their job done. Don’t frame the “office” as the place where work happens, because in today’s world, it’s a work-life blend and work is happening everywhere.

Every meeting should have a link to join…every conference room should have the ability to join the right meeting with one-click

It also means that every conference room should have the ability to join the right meeting with one-click so that dialing into the meeting is a 5 second or less process max. This means using something like Zoom Rooms or equivalent for your video conferencing solution.

The first question is: “Does this topic need a meeting?”

If the meeting is indeed needed, leverage different meeting formats that help create a level playing field across those who are distributed and those in the room, those who react quickly in the moment and those who want to digest, and those who have the loudest voices and those who have great thoughts but are waiting for a gap in talking so they can get a word in.

When discussions happen offline or without other people, document it and share it back into the digital domain.

The more we can focus on defining the work to be done, when it should be done (even if super aggressive timelines), and how it connects to the rest of the system and teams, we free our people to define how and when the work happens.

By focusing on the outcomes along with the right context and expectation, you not only become a better leader, but you’ve also freed yourself from the constraints of feeling the need to be in the same office to measure progress.

Make sure your team has access to the tools that are super easy to enable this organic type of interaction.

A key thing to do is to focus on building personal connections across the team. This an approach one of my teams used, and you’ll be shocked at how much you’ll learn even about people you sat right next to in the office. Invest in ongoing check-ins on the team health to continue to tune the interactions and the relationships.

With every meeting, every 1:1, every new document, think: “for whom else might this be relevant?”

My last tip on being a network connector is to pick up the phone and call. In our over-scheduled Zoom-fatigued world, one thing we miss is the unexpected nature of a call. Voice provides so much richness in the emotion, tone, meaning, and intent that is often lost in other forms of communication. Encourage your team to jump on the phone. It speeds the conversation and you find the distance quickly shrinks in the hybrid environment.

Product-led Exec. Ex-SVP Head of Product Org, Samsung NEXT, Uber, Jawbone, Tellme, AOL. Measure twice. Cut once.