When you move from individual contributor to people manager, you quickly learn that your former skill set does not always translate into success in your new role. The same is true while learning to manage hybrid or remote teams. This new(ish) way of working presents its own set of challenges. Hybrid employment does not appear to be declining, with 83% of employees preferring a hybrid model to full-time office work. This implies you must be aware of the common risks of managing hybrid teams and take intentional precautions to avoid them. Here are some tips from Udemy instructors for managing remote teams.

Common Challenge : Proximity Bias

Proximity bias is the (sometimes unconscious) preference we have for employees who work on-site simply because we see them more frequently and interact with them more closely. Think this isn’t a problem? According to Gartner, 64% of managers believe that onsite staff perform better than remote employees, and 75% believe that onsite employees are more likely to be promoted. It’s easy to understand how these perspectives could lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy in which managers believe remote employees aren’t deserving of promotions, so they don’t advocate for them or provide them the same opportunities as those who work on-site.

How can you overcome it? Consider how you will strive to reduce this type of prejudice in both routine jobs and critical stages of the employee lifecycle, such as performance reviews and promotions. Hassan Osman, an Udemy instructor, advocates making meetings more equal by requiring all participants to call in from their computers (even if they work in the same workplace) and including technologies like as chat and polls to increase participation. Hassan’s course, Better Virtual Meetings, provides further ideas for leading a hybrid team. Alexis Haselberger recommends a variety of tactics for increasing your team members’ performance, such as intentionally advocating for remote workers, acknowledging their work in public forums, and regularly monitoring who is being promoted or rewarded to ensure it does not

Common Challenge : Micromanagement

Most people do not aspire to be micromanagers; they simply want to meet deadlines and objectives and execute high-quality jobs. However, they gradually lose trust in their team members and feel compelled to follow up with them or check their work far too frequently. Micromanagement is an issue in any work environment, but it is much more likely to occur when we have less insight into what our team members are doing on a daily basis. How can you overcome it? Alexis Haselberger recommends establishing distinct working and communication practices. For example, do your employees adhere to basic working hours? When and how should team members share updates? What is the proper response time for an email or instant message

Axel Rittershaus, an Udemy instructor, recommends using digital documentation to guarantee that all team members are fulfilling their responsibilities and making progress. Anyone with project management tools like Trello or Asana may simply get a high-level snapshot of a project’s status. When everyone gets access to this information through shared tools, progress update meetings become less necessary. For more advice from Axel, check out his course, Leading & Working in Hybrid Teams/Remote Teams.

Common challenge : Burnout

Burnout is a severe issue in the job. According to McKinsey, 49% of employees are burnt out, but the true percentage could be much higher because those who have suffered the most burnout are likely to have left their jobs. Burnout is even more of a concern in a hybrid or remote workplace, where we usually need clear boundaries. When do our workdays start and end? Should you respond to “one last” email or message? It can be difficult to strike a balance between trying to appear productive and helpful while still caring for our families or ourselves.

As a leader, seek for ways to exhibit positive boundary behaviors. Alexis recommends taking vacation days (and not working on them!) and refraining from sending work emails or messages beyond normal business hours. If you only have time to check email late at night or on weekends, use the “schedule send” function to ensure that it arrives in your team members’ inboxes at the appropriate time and does not create the expectation that they should respond outside of the typical workday. According to Axel, leaders must pay attention to their team members’ actions. If you see any changes, such as a lack of passion, interest, or participation, follow up and advise them to take a break.

Common challenge : Social and professional isolation

When we share a workstation with our team members, we gather a wealth of knowledge and establish a sense of belonging, even if we are unaware of it. We can overhear a conversation and join in, or we may run into someone while obtaining a snack and provide a quick update. These types of unintentional interactions are far more difficult to replicate in the hybrid context, which can lead to employees feeling excluded from social relationships and the information they need to complete their tasks effectively. According to a Gartner survey, just 33% of organizations practice genuine information transparency, therefore we can’t assume that our team members have immediate access to information.

According to Alexis, hosting a Zoom happy hour has become a bit of a cliché, and many employees are fed up with the trend. Fortunately, you can undertake a variety of additional team-building activities with your remote team, such as playing virtual board games, taking virtual lessons together, or participating in a virtual food or beverage tasting with an experienced guide. According to Axel, there are four major categories for team building: Space and time for informal discussions Where to chat Virtual Team-Building Events In-person team-building activities
To effectively assist your team, aim for a mix of all of these activities. You might also offer possibilities for workers to connect casually, such as a Slack watercooler channel, chat roulette, where people are paired with a random coworker for a virtual coffee break, or even a silent working hour, when people may call into a Zoom meeting and work quietly together. When it comes to information exchange, clear documentation and processes are required so that people know where and how to go for answers to their questions. Many managers create “working with me” manuals to provide to their direct reports while encouraging each team member to create their own version.

Leading Remote and Hybrid Teams

Companies that successfully adapt to remote and hybrid work will gain a competitive advantage in the future. When questioned about their career goals, most employees indicate they want more work-life balance and everyday flexibility. When done appropriately, hybrid work has the potential to produce both of these outcomes. Managers may not naturally have the skills needed to be effective leaders in today’s demanding workplace. Help your managers prepare for the challenges of leading remote and hybrid teams by organizing cohort learning sessions with colleagues and other leaders.

 

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