The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way that companies around the world operate, with millions of employees transitioning to a remote working environment. After more than two years of this setup, many people were able to adjust to this type of environment. But with COVID-19 cases subsiding and the number of people getting vaccinations rising, some companies have returned or are planning a return to a traditional office setup.
However, this doesn’t mean that companies will do away with the remote working environment entirely, which results in a hybrid working model that many companies have adopted. According to Bryl Zenarosa, a learning and development professional, a hybrid team is a team in which some employees are co-located in an office and others do their jobs remotely. There are many companies that have a flexible schedule, with some allowing employees to work remotely, in the office or a combination of both.
But as with other types of working setup, leading and being a part of a hybrid team is not without its challenges, which Zenarosa discussed in an episode of Breaktime Breakthroughs on Plus Network. Here are some of these potential challenges:
1. Communication – According to Zenarosa, with hybrid teams, there is oftentimes the illusion that communication has taken place or that it is sufficient. While sending emails or online messages leaves a paper trail that colleagues can follow, they also lack tone and context, which could lead to confusion and misinterpretation.
2. Connection – This is especially a challenge for members of hybrid teams who are working remotely, as they will feel as if they are missing out on what’s going on in the office, both on a professional and a personal level.
3. Coordination – All types of collaborative work need coordination, but working in hybrid teams presents more challenges than usual. Extra effort is required to coordinate with teammates working remotely, and there’s a chance that they will be left out of small exchanges and minor decisions made by those working together in the office. If left unchecked, this could lead to these members being left out of big decisions and exchanges.
4. Creativity – There are two ways that creativity is challenged when working in a hybrid setup: collective creativity and individual creativity. With collective creativity, while people can brainstorm online, some people still need face-to-face exchange of ideas and conversations to be more creative. With individual creativity, quiet time can help some people to be more creative, over a long period of time, they will face the pressure to constantly be creative and innovative. It’s hard to be constantly creative alone, as some social interaction, spontaneous conversations with colleagues, seeing random items, and a change of scenery can help stimulate one’s creativity.
5. Culture – A company’s culture is what makes it unique, and it is important to integrate newcomers in a team, whether they are interns or executives. But that will be more challenging for hybrid teams. How can a company’s distinctive feel be maintained in a work from home setup? How can companies differentiate themselves as they battle for talent?
In the end, according to Zenarosa, the success any hybrid workforce relies on building relationships, defining hybrid work policies, maintaining a hybrid compatible culture, securing a buy-in for leadership, and keeping teams securely connected whether at home or in the office. The sooner that companies can adapt to this setup, the easier it will be for members of hybrid teams to get work done and accomplish their goals.