May 21, 2021
May 21, 2021
Contributor: Matt Cain
Use these common-sense approaches to combat anxiety and boost unity and efficiency for hybrid and remote teams.
By 2022, 25% of the global knowledge workforce will choose their home as the primary workplace, and 45% of the workforce will be working from home two to three days per week. Some employees are thrilled at the prospect. Others, not so much.
For many employees, the novelty of working from home has already worn off, and they’re anxious about the possibility of a permanent move to a hybrid work environment. You can help reduce their anxiety with some simple ground rules for virtual interactions and other work challenges that are unique to remote and hybrid work teams.
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You’ll need to customize your guidelines to ensure a good fit for each team and for your corporate culture, but it helps to focus ground rules on improving three aspects of remote and hybrid team work.
Encourage your teams’ interpersonal unity — which can be especially difficult to maintain in a remote environment but is critical to collective team engagement and inclusion. Managers need to be empathetic and approachable; it can make the difference between a great employee experience and a not-so-great one.
Team members often get their primary work cues from manager behavior, so make sure that managers model productive behavior. For example, explicitly call out and illustrate the ability to time-shift — to accommodate a doctor visit, consult with a carpenter or care for a sick child — to reinforce the idea that we are all in this together.
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Promote transparency around how teams use their time and be flexible in coordinating how work gets done, focusing on outcomes more than inputs. For example, agree on work outcomes and outputs but be flexible over how, where and when the team delivers those objectives.
This strategy reinforces that team member participation is judged by their contribution, not their location. The idea of “collaboration equity” is critical to remove concerns — now and going forward — that in-office participants may be favored due to their physical presence in a company-supplied workspace.
Provide clear guidance on what technology and tools are available, and when to use them for what. Ensure that all equipment works properly, and provide opportunities for team members to improve their digital dexterity — but also make clear that employees must take ownership of their own digital proficiency as an essential ingredient in effective remote and hybrid work.
Virtual meetings are a good example. The IT organization is in charge of seamless provisioning of equipment and providing effective support services, but your ground rules should place responsibility on team members to know how to use all the relevant features and observe meeting best practices.
The team dialogue around ground rules can help your team feel more invested and in control over their remote and hybrid work conditions.
Here are seven examples of the kinds of common-sense guidelines you can set to make remote and hybrid team members more comfortable.
The pivot to hybrid work environments is just beginning, and most organizations are figuring it out as they go along. These rules of the road are part of this journey, and enable individuals and teams to set their own paths while adhering to organizational guidelines.
Not only do the guidelines enable co-creation and grass-roots innovation of hybrid work, they also help new team members quickly ascertain and embrace team cultural norms.
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Recommended resources for Gartner clients*:
Quick Answer: What Team Guidelines Promote Healthy Hybrid Work?
The Distributed Workplace of the Future Is Now
Improve Remote Work Effectiveness by Rising to These Top 10 Meeting Challenges
*Note that some documents may not be available to all Gartner clients.