The growing interest in remote workers means that more businesses are going to be testing out the waters. The flexibility remote working offers has made it a high demand among the workforce and upcoming applicants. With the way the world has changed due to global events, it is no surprise that many businesses are looking for new and innovative ways to work and remain connected.
Due to the way technology has advanced, living in a digital world has made it possible for people to work from homes or other locations. However, the question is should you go hybrid or build a fully remote team?
Both of these options most certainly have their pros and cons, and there are things you will need to consider when it comes to your business. Not every company out there will be able to support a hybrid team. Let us dive deep into this topic, shall we?
What is a hybrid remote team?
A hybrid remote team is a partly distributed workforce made up of flexible employees. That means they have the options to decide on whether to work from the office, remotely or both of them. For the most part, it's the flexibility offered by remote working that appeals to most employees, so having the option to work from home or the office. Several companies are now offering people to work outside the office for at least a few days per week, or even parts of the day. There are some teams today that could be considered hybrids already.
This type of working option has become increasingly popular among tech and companies involved with doing online business, where talent can be hired from any location in the world. However, companies still have a headquarters that remains connected to a distributed team.
There are already some well-known companies that are known for having an entirely remote team, such as Buffer, yet these types of companies are still rare to come by. Mega-Corporations like Google and Amazon are still known for their massive office spaces, but they do have a fair share of hybrid teams as well. With that said, the future of work is remote, and plenty of businesses are jumping in on it.
While hybrid teams are becoming a popular choice, it does have its set of challenges you will need to deal with when introducing this type of working option. It is far easier to have your team meet in an office environment. With a remote working team, you need to ensure your remote employees still feel as if they are part of the team. That means including them in brainstorming sessions, but also when sharing ideas or during daily tasks.
Why should you consider hybrid teams?
Results have already shown the number of advantages for including remote workers in a workforce. However, one of the most pressing reasons for a remote working option is the demand for flexibility from employees.
Catalyst has recently published a study that revealed by 2025, Millennials,\ will make up three-quarters of the global workforce. Furthermore, a study conducted by Inc shows that Gen-Z shall surpass Millennials as the most populous generation. That shows us that in the coming years, they will be the ones paving the way for the workforce as well. The upcoming generation will also want their flexibility and freedom over an in-office environment, a traditional job, and the perks of going into work.
These two generations have grown up to be a part of the digital revolution and now highly dependent on technology for their everyday lives. Additionally, the possibilities of new and advanced technology emerging to connect our working lives hold a massive role in their daily lives. For these two generations, it is necessary to work remotely, and it isn't unfounded that working from home is going to become the new office environment.
The advantages of hybrid team
Hybrid remote teams have become increasingly well-liked these days due to how easy it is to adopt. A business that already has a sizable office space can easily set up workflows for remote workers and develop their remote presence immediately.
When it comes to teams that have either specialized hiring requirements or massive scale hiring requirements, that can be a real lifesaver. For many corners of the world, access to remote talent becomes more prominent than their local talent pools. If you are working with either technology or methods that require specialization, hiring people off-site could be the only option a business has to achieve its goals.
Going hybrid remote can be considered an excellent way to start encouraging your business to improve its knowledge exchange strategy for the entire company. If a business manages to pull it off currently, it ensures everyone becomes more serious about documentation, increasingly aware of timing and thoughtful messaging. Lastly, it can allow employees in the office to take advantage of remote working by offering flexibility with their commute and working from home time.
Furthermore, having a team of happy employees leads to an increase in loyalty. By offering your employees flexibility when it comes to working locations, they can decide where they work best, eventually boosting productivity and happiness. Some of these employees could work better in co-working spaces, while others may prefer the comfy chair at home, yet both of the amounts of work finished remain the same.
It can also lead to the development of more loyal relationships between employees and employers as the work is based on results instead of the number of hours a person has worked. That also means team members can work during the hours they are more productive since everyone has their own time that suits them best.
The challenges of hybrid teams
One of the many criticisms you will hear about the hybrid model is that it can be contradictory to the remote first mindset. That means that there is an ongoing issue that remote employees could become “second-class citizen” and need to prove themselves even more so to be taken into account for promotions or positions that may be handed out.
It is common for the leadership of a company to consist of people working in the office space. That allows local workers to have greater influence as they have more chances for exchange and more visibility. That increases the chances of division happening between office workers and remote workers. As stated by the Harvard Business Review, remote workers could feel left out and ganged up on by office employees.
Lastly, it can also cause inequality to occur amongst employees. The remote employees have far more flexibility when it comes to organization and time management. However, office employees have access to office benefits. While remote employees may need to join out of working time meetings, office workers spend their time on commutes.
Everything does end up leveling out eventually, but you will always end up in awkward positions. Some employees may prefer the benefits of the other party, which can be challenging to resolve.
Are there ways to overcome these challenges?
Hybrid teams have proven to be a successful model by plenty of large-scale companies. Still, you will need to lay down some rules for this to work well enough. At the heart of it all, a company needs to strive towards getting a remote-first mindset as closely as possible.
Setting up proper communication
The office setting makes it easy for everyone to communicate with each other. If anyone on the team is having an issue, they can merely walk up to a nearby colleague and talk it over with them. However, being on a hybrid team can make things a bit more complicated when it comes to the individuals who are scattered across various time zones.
It's the reason why using tools for remote working such as Zoom, Slack, and collaboration tools is so crucial for remote teams. Even on-site teams should be using these tools when they are connecting and collaborating. That ensures remote team members can remain in the loop. Nevertheless, it is not always that as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you could miss out on some essential detail because of a bad connection, or some information is informally exchanged over a coffee break.
Fortunately, there are ways you can overcome these issues. Start by recording every meeting and saving chat logs as well. You could have someone on one team be in charge of taking these notes to improve team cohesion, whether you decide to record a video call or save all the information within public chatting channels. All of this information can also be saved onto your project management tool.
That way, if someone from a varying time zone needs to catch up, they know where to get the information. Technology has become the new team office space, which means hybrid teams need to remain connected at all times.
No right way
While both remote and hybrid teams have become increasingly popular as of late, there are no definite guidelines in leading them. That is especially true for a distributed team where some team members are remote, and others are not, there is no one size fits all solution. When it comes to managing a hybrid team, you will have two different types of workers, which means the same advantages won’t work for both of them.
Every company will have tons of trial and error during the beginning, but Friday's happy hour will not be a successful team event for those who work remotely. An excellent way to deal with this is by asking your team what they want. Increasing the amount of flexibility is going to be high on everyone’s list. So you can offer office flexibility for those not working remotely. As stated before, using virtual office tools are excellent for managing a remote team. However, you should make sure that the in-office team is also using them.
Hybrid teams have their ups and downs, but ultimately it comes down to if the company can handle both office and remote workers. Building a fully remote team may be easier than a hybrid team since you could manage everyone better and won't have to worry about issues like making remote workers feel left out. Or have office workers become jealous of the freedom remote workers get to have. It all comes down to whether your business will benefit from either a hybrid team or a full-on remote team. Both are excellent in their own ways, but one introduces more challenges than the other.