Whether hybrid teams can succeed is the question of the moment but it is not a new one. Flexible Work Solutions got its name in back 2005 because we were helping companies establish remote, hybrid, and other flexible work arrangements. People today are saying it’s impossible to make hybrid work, but we have been in the business for a long time, and we have seen both successes and failures.
One example of a failure was at a district attorney’s office. It wasn’t because it was a government organization. It was because it was so highly politicized. People had to be physically visible and there were numerous “meetings before the meetings” conversations where the decisions were actually made. People who worked remotely lost out on those opportunities and eventually realized they had to come into the office if they wanted to succeed.
An example of a success was at a tech company that built networking equipment and “practiced what they preached” by putting it to good use internally. It wasn’t just that they had the technology to make it work; they had also mastered the hybrid culture. Managers let people know when it was important to come to the office—even travel to the office by airplane at times. Team members made sure to include people in side conversations and in meetings no matter where they were located.
Here’s the bottom line. Hybrid can work if the individuals on the team, the manager, and the organization are all committed to making it work. When you have a gap at any one of those levels, problems tend to surface. For example, the organization needs to provide the infrastructure to support hybrid work; the manager has to make sure remote employees are as visible as in-person ones; team members have to find ways to include each other in casual conversations and decisions that happen outside of formal meetings. It sounds complicated and there is much more to it, but if you embed hybrid work practices into your working culture, you can make it work.
If you are wondering whether your organization is ready to support hybrid teams, download our short Hybrid Readiness Assessment and answer the questions. If you don’t know the answers or are not satisfied with them, bring the assessment to others on your team to start the discussion.
To see some of our research on remote and hybrid work, click here.