Is your team blended with some working in person and others remote?
While the pandemic caused many companies to shift to fully remote teams, where possible employers are starting to bring their employees back to the office.
At Transition Solutions we’ve been helping our clients navigate workforce changes and career transitions for over 30 years. Our flexible, customized programs meet the objectives of organizations of all sizes, industries and locations while providing employees in transition with a supportive, personalized and comprehensive program that meets their needs.
Managing blended teams with some employees in person and others remote can be challenging. Below we share advice for managers and employees on working together during such transition.
Predictive Index (PI) content marketer Shannon Howard offered her thoughts summarized below for managers managing blended teams based on her experience as the only remote member of PIs marketing team.
- Leverage technology. Adopting video technology, such as Zoom video conferencing, and partnering it with a tool like Meeting Owl bridges the gap between in-office employees and those working from home. Using team communication tools, such as Slack, and project management tools like Asana can keep your team on track and in the loop, regardless of where they’re working from.
- Talk in front of the camera. Have your team provide updates standing individually in front of the camera to deliver their information. This allows team members working outside the office to clearly hear what each person is saying. It also encourages a little extra conversation (“Hi, Shannon!”).
- Be conscious of cross-talk during meetings. Most of the time, we don’t think twice about side conversations during meetings. But microphones pick up on all noise—including side conversations. Keeping cross-talk to a minimum allows your remote employees tuning in to clearly hear the information being presented in the meeting.
- Use electronic communication to communicate important messages. One of the challenges of being remote is that decisions are sometimes made in hallway conversations. These decisions don’t always make their way to people who aren’t in the office. By sharing important messages via written communication, not only do you include people working remotely, but you also create something the team can refer back to if they have questions or forget what was communicated.
- Touch base regularly. When you’re working in the same physical environment, it’s easy to strike up a casual conversation. While it takes a little more effort to reach out to someone who is remote, the effort goes a long way in helping that team member feel included and in building the relationship. Communication is key to successfully integrating your remote employee. Come right out and ask them what challenges they’re experiencing. Encourage them to share suggestions of how you can better accommodate them.
Dorie Clark, guest author for Harvard Business Review, recently offered her advice below to employees on staying visible when you are working remotely and your team is back in the office.
- Overdeliver to combat the negative assumptions that can come with remote work. It’s true that the previous stigma against WFH has decreased markedly during the pandemic, as many knowledge workers had the opportunity to try it for themselves. But it’s also probable that leaders may revert to their past frame of reference once they’re back in the office — namely, that employees they can’t directly monitor may well be goofing off. That’s why it’s essential for remote workers to strive to create perceptions of reliability, such as always meeting or exceeding deadlines.
- Fight against the pull toward transactional relationships. Colleagues working together in an office have plenty of organic opportunities, from elevator rides to breakroom encounters, to develop a low-key, ambient awareness of each other’s lives. These casual interactions provide a form of “social glue” that enables you to connect with colleagues beyond the purely transactional format of Zoom calls discussing a particular project or account. Research supports the value of these connections and that a colleague is more likely to advocate for you when they feel a personal connection to you.
- Make yourself physically visible. Where geographically feasible, try to come into the office occasionally to meet with colleagues and ensure, particularly with new hires with whom you don’t have a previous history, that they can “put a face to the name.” Similarly, even if your office culture permits online meetings with the video camera turned off, make a point of keeping yours on and ensuring your face is well-lit, with a professional backdrop.
- Ensure you’re easy to work with. For obvious reasons, overextended managers appreciate employees who are willing to adjust to their schedules and work around their preferences. As a remote worker, you’re never going to be as accessible as someone sitting 10 feet away whom they can grab when a question arises or a new idea pops into their head — so you’ll need to make yourself easy to work with in other ways. For instance, it’s valuable to have an explicit conversation about your manager’s communication preferences.
Whether you are the manager or employee working in a blended team, setting clear expectations and communicating often are essential as many move back into offices.
At Transition Solutions, we are experts in helping our clients navigate workforce changes and career transitions. We have developed a robust personalized and customized approach to every situation. Our strong reputation for consistently delivering exceptional service at value sets us apart. If you would like more information our services please check out our website at http://www.transitionsolutions.com or you can contact us directly at 888-424-0003 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.