Hybrid work weeks.
Many work environments look drastically different than they did just a few years ago.
Though there’s been mixed reception regarding remote work, there’s no arguing it’s become a major part of our lives—and it’s likely not going anywhere soon.
However, breaking the mold of traditional workplaces has consequences, good and bad. And one of the largest impacts is how it’s affecting team dynamics.
In hybrid work environments, teams typically consist of those who work:
- Full-time, on-campus
- Fully remote
- A mixture of both (hybrid)
Because of these diverse work environments, community and collaboration can fracture, especially for those who work mostly remotely.
According to research on the effects of firm-wide remote work by Yang et al (2022), “[Microsoft’s] firm-wide remote work caused the collaboration network of workers to become more static and siloed, with fewer bridges between disparate parts.”
The report goes on to say that remote work has caused groups to become less interconnected due to restricted information flow between them, creating fewer access points to information and impeding idea sharing.
This “bottleneck” means collaboration is less likely to happen between people with weaker ties, which is especially troublesome considering new ideas are more likely to surface when there is sharing between these groups.
The result? Deeper information silos that are difficult to uproot. Not only can this lack of communication aggravate workplace relationships and further segregate groups, but it will likely negatively affect productivity and long-term innovation (Yang et all, 2022).
Not a good look for any team.
When a team is collaborative and recognizes the value of each perspective – even the viewpoints of members they’re not particularly close with – that team is challenged to grow in new, dynamic ways. This helps not only foster a more harmonious, inclusive workplace environment (remote and otherwise), but it organically drives the team to create better, more innovative work, too.
It begins with everyone recognizing their – and other’s – unique part to play in the system.
Good teamwork looks like:
- Responsive, supportive leaders
- Open, honest employees making the effort to include their teammates
And the benefits of good teamwork are far reaching, including:
- Better employee retention
- Higher productivity and work quality
- Greater short and long-term innovations
- Increased work life happiness and satisfaction
There’s no doubt that silos and fractured teamwork will affect productivity, creativity and a team’s longevity. So, we must be agile in approaching a solution.
Fortunately, with the sudden shift in remote work, there are several tools and approaches that have surfaced as key in helping promote a more collaborative and interconnected community within a hybrid team environment.
Dynamic and Immersive Software – Frequent and consistent communication should be easy – that’s why advanced programs like Microsoft Teams, Outlook and Zoom are so important in staying connected. Furthermore, adding visuals with cameras, and not just listening on a phone, helps everyone feel more present and engaged. At LC Studio, we also take turns leading video sessions and utilizing virtual break-out rooms for activities.
Supportive Core Team – A positive, supportive (even vulnerable) team made up of steadfast core members offers remote workers consistent people they can recognize and count on from week to week. This core team should practice regular group check-ins and actively promote cross-collaboration and conversations. At LC Studio, we meet weekly to share information and foster stronger connections through team huddles. We also practice mentorship, where leaders meet regularly with individual core team members, and trickles down to core team members serving casual team members as mentors, too.
Team-building Exercises – Though it might seem tedious, regular check-ins, meetings, and team-building exercises will increase collaboration between members, creating bonds and friendships – or at the very least familiarize people with each other. At LC Studio, we practice several exercises to foster team building, such as:
- Cycling leadership roles in our Friday team huddles
- Experimenting with various icebreaker activities
- Engaging in collaborative problem-solving and feedback sessions
- Sharing about our personal lives (pets, weekend activities – even stress management techniques!)
When a team utilizes these collaborative tools and approaches, community can be better nurtured, creating close-knit bonds that help each member understand each other, and their perspective just a little bit better.
With any evolving environment, day-to-day operations must adjust to support staff to do their best work possible. That means investing effort into creating and maintaining stronger community and collaboration for a more human approach, no matter the environment.