16 May Collaborating Effectively in a Complex Hybrid World
It’s been two months since you and your team of five people have returned to the office. Your company has embraced a hybrid work schedule where employees can choose to work any three days of the week in the office and two days remotely.
The only expectation is that your team will meet in person on Wednesdays at the office for team meetings and to connect on key projects.
Over the last 3 weeks you’ve started to observe some different behaviours from the team:
- On Wednesdays when the team are in the office, they attend meetings but all bring laptops and work on them throughout the meetings
- They rely heavily on messaging apps to communicate with each other and rarely leave their offices or cubicles to connect
- They are calling in sick more often
- You are receiving more requests to work from home on Wednesdays.
Collaboration or Cooperation?
Get clear and confirm with your team if collaboration is truly needed
The purpose of collaboration is a work towards a shared outcome and shared goals, and often takes time to accomplish. Cooperation is in service of an individual or single, short-term goal. Your employeesmay actually only need to cooperate on key pieces of work and can do so on their own.
Why Are We Meeting?
Get clear on purpose of your meetings and the reasons you will come together. For example, collaboration is best served when working through new processes, complex issues or generating new ideas.
We adapted quickly to on-line meetings out of necessity when we couldn’t be together. We became Zoom and MS Team efficiency warriors that multi-tasked during on-line meetings. When this happens during in-person meetings, it can feel disjointed and less connected.
- Get clear on whether or not you actually need to meet or not.
- What kind of meeting is this? A working session, update, social connection time?
- Is everyone required to be in person at the meeting? What if any are the exceptions?
Coming together is great, but coming together for a clear purpose is better.
Declare your rules of engagement. How and when will you use technology to ensure your team can collaborate and include everyone.
- Confirm everyone, including new hires, are up to speed on all of your collaboration tools. Some examples include:
- Email, scheduling tools such as, MS Outlook, Slack or Asana
- Meeting and messaging tools like MS Teams
- Project software or methods such as MS Project or Agile methodology
- If your team is using messaging apps to connect while they are on different hybrid schedules, ask them how effective it is, and are they including everyone they need to.
Technology should be accessible to all and decide with your team how you want to use it to enable your collaboration efforts.
Remind your employees that when they are together there is real value in building and maintaining healthy working relationships. Effective collaboration in a hybrid workplace depends on it.