Managing Hybrid Teams

We all recognise that working in a hybrid way, where team members may be working from different locations or even at different times, will require planning and organising if it is to be successful. Some trial and error will be required to determine just what will work for your service.

The role of the line manager will be key to establishing these new ways of working and ensuring that they work in practice. In particular managers will be responsible for effective communication and team working within newly hybrid teams and indeed teams who have a mixture of hybrid, agile and static workers.

This guidance, adapted from the CIPD, provides managers with some key tips and ideas for enabling effective hybrid working.

First steps

Once the hybrid working scheme is agreed, familiarise yourself with it and any other manager guidance, including this page and the FAQs. Share the scheme with your teams, alert them to the information they can access on myNL and ensure they undertake the relevant training to support the new way of working.

Employees may be anxious about new ways of working, especially if they want to carry on with homeworking but are unsure if this will be permitted. Be aware of the timeframes for implementing the future workplace model and communicate these as well. This will help to provide clarity and manage expectations.

Discussing hybrid working with your team

It will be helpful to talk to your staff individually about the new hybrid working scheme. Discuss:

  • Talk through the hybrid working scheme and what their categorisation as hybrid worker means
  • Confirm home working arrangements are appropriate and home working assessment/DSE arrangements are in place and they still have a suitable space to work at home. 
  • Confirm what their new service base will be and offer the opportunity to visit it prior to the full return?
  • Discuss any transitional arrangements and options for going into the new office space prior to the 4th April
  • Any personal circumstances that need to be considered – need for flexible working arrangements, changes to patterns, individual risk assessments etc. as appropriate
  • Those who were previously in the high risk category for COVID-19 may be very anxious about returning, so you must carry out an individual risk assessment and make sure that they feel safe in the workplace.  If this is not possible you may wish to agree that they continue to work from home for a period of time.

Although it may not be possible to meet all employee preferences or expectations, when people are able to work within their preferred style this can help them to be productive, support employee engagement and is also good for wellbeing. Make clear with your team that personal preferences cannot all necessarily be met and provide a timeline for providing more information wherever possible. 

Some topics to discuss with your teams collectively may include:

  • What worked well for our team whilst working remotely during the pandemic – what can we learn from this?
  • What would hybrid working mean for our team? What would need to be in place for us to work effectively in a hybrid way?
  • What are the potential risks or challenges for our team about working in a hybrid way? How can we overcome them?
  • How will we work the 6 days as a team?
  • How do we ensure the future workplace principles and behaviours are embedded into the service and teams?
  • When we are working in this new way, how can we ensure that we are inclusive, fair and work with in a healthy way?

Remember that a move to hybrid working represents a fundamental change after what has already been a challenging period for many people. It is likely that people will experience this change in different ways. Some will be excited, others may be anxious or concerned and you will need to show empathy, concern and consideration for all points of view.

How hybrid working needs to work and be managed in practice will vary extensively according to the type of work being undertaken – be prepared to engage in ongoing conversations with your team and adapt your approach as you learn what works and what does not. You may need to try different methods and approaches to determine what works best for your particular situation.

Communication

Effective hybrid working is facilitated by strong communication. Communication needs to be more intentional and planned in a hybrid environment, as there might be fewer casual or ad hoc conversations. Exactly how a hybrid team needs to communicate will vary depending on its size and the types of roles being undertaken.

Communication in a hybrid team requires a different approach to communicating with an office based or fully remote team. However, the key principles of good communication remain; employees need to have the information that they need, in a timely way, to allow them to successfully undertake their work.

Good communication is a shared responsibility across the team; engage the team in a discussion about the best ways to communicate. Consider some of the following:

  • Discussing and agreeing arrangements for meetings. How often does the team need to meet, and for what purpose?  When should meetings be online, and when should they be face-to-face? What other ways are there to communicate other than meetings? 
  • Deciding upon key communication channels. There are many different ways to communicate – but too many can be overwhelming. It can be helpful to agree primary channels for particular purposes. For example, deciding to communicate via teams chat instead of email for team communication not requiring a meeting.
  • Agree a mechanism for sharing who is working where and when. This could include using status updates, auto-signature messages or even a ‘people on a page’ plan sharing working days, locations and hours.

One of the most important factors in communicating with a hybrid team is ensuring that information reaches everyone, wherever and whenever they are working. Equal access to information and knowledge is key to preventing communication issues and feelings of unfairness.

Updated on 3rd March 2022

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