Successful hybrid working
The pandemic has not gone away yet; the pandemic is slowly becoming part of our new normal. This new normal also includes a new way of working together: ‘hybrid working.’ There are some dangers to hybrid working, and the main danger is that informal communication channels exist much less.
In this article, I’ll address how to deal with these dangers.
What is a hybrid team?
A hybrid team is a work structure where employees work part at home and part at the office or another location. Teams will be little to never complete in the same place. The Valk Leadership Company has worked primarily from home and with clients since its inception. We have therefore gained a great deal of experience with hybrid working and the importance of good communication. Certainly, the writer of this article can be rather hasty and has experienced the negative consequences to a successful team firsthand.
Dangers of hybrid working
People have needs. These needs are reflected in the way the brain works. These needs should be the focus of attention when working with hybrid teams. Insufficient fulfillment of these needs causes social and mental pain. People are less inspired and motivated to work, and the team can easily become less successful.
The four needs of humans and the brain
- First, there is the need to be together. This need is where the we-feeling comes in. We-feeling is about feeling that you are working in a gentle team and working together towards the shared goals. Working hybrid can reduce the feeling of togetherness, and communication about the common goal is very important.
- The second need is about pleasure and enjoyment. Everyone also needs pleasure and enjoyment at work. Work can also give you pleasure. Here it’s about the joke at work, the common lunches, the common outings, and the celebration of successes. Fortunately, you can organize many fun times and enjoyment, even in a hybrid work structure.
- The third need is about being seen and heard. This need is always what I worry about the most in the context of hybrid teams. Because you see and hear people less, this has negative effects on the other person’s well-being. Therefore, it is extra important to make sure that everyone is seen and heard.
- The last, and fourth need, is about the need for autonomy. I think managers realize this quite easily in hybrid working. However, there is a danger here: setting up inadequate frameworks and shared goals can create insecurity. Frequent communication of the team goal is therefore enormously important. This approach corresponds to the first need.
Do these needs apply to everyone?
Everyone has these human needs, and these human needs are also needs of the brain. However, the intensity and nature of these needs may well vary. Hybrid work also means that you don’t lump everyone together but keep looking at everyone’s individual needs. Communication within a hybrid team is always customized!
It will not be difficult to guess that the solution of hybrid working lies mainly in organizing and making agreements about communication. I will mention a few here:
- Make sure everyone gets all the information. It is easy for remote workers to miss information because it is passed on in person, often briefly in between. This way of communication can have a negative effect on all four needs.
- Make it very concrete when everyone is available, what expectations are about accessibility, and come to pleasant agreements about working together. Discuss this with each other.
- Organize meetings based on the fulfillment of the four needs. Communicate with your team about the four human needs, gain insight into the extent to which these needs are met, and ensure, based on these needs, that your communication is in order.
Hybrid working is becoming the new normal. Let’s also ensure that very good communication in a hybrid work culture also becomes the new normal.