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Managing teams in a ‘hybrid’ world of work

Mark Staniland, regional managing director Hays London City, Midlands & Ireland

Entering a post-lockdown era of work is likely to involve coordination of ‘hybrid’ teams, working on different schedules and in different locations.

Refreshing your approach to scheduling will be key to navigating this change. With this in mind, here are five steps you can take to refresh your schedule and manage your team effectively, no matter where they’re based or when they are working.

  1. Set daily priorities

Each day may throw up unpredicted challenges at the moment, so I’d advise setting some priorities in the morning before you get suck into the day of work ahead. This will help you maintain your deliverables and help bring structure and clarity to managing your ‘hybrid’ team. Ask yourself:

  • What are the key projects I am currently managing?
  • What are my upcoming targets or KPIs? And have these been adjusted to reflect the current circumstances?
  • How can I continue to offer pastoral support to my team?
  • What areas can I relax my focus on and what areas need more of my attention?

Transparency around this can benefit others, so consider hosting a virtual meeting each day which is accessible for all members, regardless of their location or working hour to go through these. This will help ensure everyone is aligned in what they are working towards – even if you are not all under the same roof.

  1. Establish a strategy of communication

As a manager, you’ll know the importance of communication. However, managing in a ‘hybrid’ world of work will require a watertight strategy of communication to make sure everyone stays in the loop and that team spirit and unity is maintained.

From a scheduling point of view, prioritise team-wide conversations which occur on a regular basis as a permanent fixture on your calendar. It goes without saying that these should fit with everyone’s schedules as much as possible.

To make sure your communications strategy is a water-tight part of your schedule, think about:

  • The topic of communication
  • Who needs to be involved
  • Where they’re based
  • What are the ‘crossover’ hours in which everyone is working
  • How often you need to talk to them
  • What method of communication would be best

Try drawing up a table detailing the topic, who’s involved, where they’re based, how often you’ll talk and the method of communication. Referring to this will ensure you’re able to communicate effectively with your staff without having to constantly refer to where each individual is based.

  1. Maintain work-life balance

An essential consideration in your schedule should be keeping your work-life balance in check, but remember you also hold some responsibility for helping your staff maintain their work-life balance as well. At a minimum, keep an eye on whether anyone is continuing to work late into the evening or frequently neglecting to take a lunch break.

Particularly if they are working remotely, your staff might benefit from some scheduling tips such as maintaining a routine, scheduling a full lunch break as well as smaller breaks through the day, setting an alarm to encourage you to finish at a reasonable hour, and avoiding working on the weekends as best you can.

  1. Don’t overlook feedback

Ongoing and constructive feedback is part and parcel of being a good manager, but managing teams through such an unsettling and changing period makes it easy to fall behind on this.

You should provide collective feedback for your team/s overall, as well as individuals. Feedback should be spread evenly, regardless of where someone is based. Some suggestions for feedback include:

  • A virtual team huddle at the beginning of the week to reflect on learns from the week just passed
  • Weekly or fortnightly 1-2-1s either over video or in person with individual team members or sub-teams
  • Ad-hoc instant messages to individuals when they have completed a significant piece of work
  • End of week wrap-ups to give your team feedback on how the week has gone

  1. Be as inclusive as possible

My final point which perhaps ought to be one of the most important considerations when you’re scheduling, is being as inclusive as possible. To start with, any tools or tech which you have in place must be accessible to everyone and those using them need to be confident doing so – this might require organising training on your part.

Minimising absences in meetings is another way to make sure everyone stays involved. It can more easily go unnoticed when someone forgets to dial into a conference call, so take a note of all attendees at the start of the meeting to check that everyone is present. Involving everyone in the agenda somehow gives people something to contribute to and makes them less likely to forget to attend.

If you’re finding it tricky to determine a call time that works for everyone, use an automated scheduling assistant. Your email calendar may come with one already, or alternatively try Doodle. This should help you respect everyone’s schedules and maximise inclusivity.

Above all, show compassion

Underpinning this refreshed approach to scheduling should be the notion of leading compassionately. In the context of leadership this means being self-aware, putting yourself in the shoes of others and creating a culture of trust – valuable traits in today’s world of work. However hectic or everchanging your schedule is, maintaining compassion will bring out the best in you as a leader and help you get the best out of your staff in this new era of work. 

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