What are the challenges and tips for leading hybrid and remote teams in a post-Pandemic world?

The Pandemic has accelerated the adoption of new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics and Automation. These technologies are shaping how we work, where we work and what skills and education and training we need to work, paving the way for an entirely different workplace with an ever-evolving landscape that we call the New World of Work.  Part of this evolution means that remote work is here to stay, and this undoubtedly poses numerous challenges for business leaders as we proceed into a new age of hybrid working.  Not only have leaders been operating under conditions that bear little resemblance to the pre-Pandemic world, they have also come under the spotlight in devising ways and means to successfully manage remote teams.

Opportunities to grow and learn at every turn

Yet, while leading remote teams can be a challenge this doesn’t mean that it is more or less of a challenge than leading onsite teams, it is just different.  This difference defines the parameters in terms of a whole bundle of new skill sets that leaders need to develop to successfully lead their companies in a changing world.  We should also bear in mind that change provides opportunities to grow and learn at every turn. So, what are some of these challenges?  The point of departure for most leaders is the need to understand how to best manage the levels of uncertainty that prevail in a post-Pandemic world.  In this article, we discuss the main challenges leaders face when leading hybrid and remote teams along with our top tips on how to overcome some of these challenges.

Treat all employees in the same manner

When you are leading a hybrid team, with both remote and onsite workers, it is normal to feel a closer bond with those employees that you see every day.  Yet, it requires discipline and a heightened level of awareness to give as much attention to remote employees as one does to those who are onsite.

Avoid micromanaging and learn to trust

The secret to developing a successful working relationship with remote employees is not to micromanage but to learn to trust people to get the job done.  The more you trust people, the better and more confident they feel.  This, in turn, sets the tone for positive relationships with other stakeholders and better quality of work.

Listen and ask the right questions

Listening to what people have to say and learning to ask the right questions means that one needs to develop the skill of being able to read between the lines.  In most instances, collaboration tools will require written communication along with video chats.  Learning how to get the most out of collaboration tools when communicating with remote employees is vital to successful remote working relationships.

Forge a positive company culture across onsite and remote teams

Company culture is reflected either positively or negatively across both onsite and remote teams.  Hence, how people interact with internal and external stakeholders, including management will define certain cultural norms.  Hence, company culture hinges upon forging positive relationships among people.  Therefore, as a leader, it is vital to find ways to strengthen the bond between onsite and remote team members.

Rate performance by measuring results

When rating the performance of remote teams use an approach that measures results and not inputs.  It is also a good idea to ask each team member to evaluate their own performance.  Self-evaluation is an excellent way to encourage people to assess their strengths and weaknesses.  When doing a self-appraisal, individuals are likely to be more honest and will also more often than not skew towards being humble and avoid overrating themselves.  Consolidate your appraisal of each employee with their own self-appraisals and the bigger picture will accurately emerge.

Now that we have discussed some of the more common challenges facing leaders in the New World of Work, here are a few tips to get everyone on the team singing from the same hymn sheet.

Lead with Empathy

Leading with empathy involves, among other things, stepping outside of your comfort zone and reaching out to remote employees in a kind but professional manner.  Sharing common concerns and stress triggers can help foster a sense of empathy amongst colleagues, and encouraging your team to do this will lead to a greater degree of trust.  It is also important to remember that the Pandemic has taken its toll on the workforce at large and that the mental health of many people has also suffered as a result.  In light of this, it is a good idea to make use of any mental health resources available in the workplace that can help people to come to terms with the fallout due to the Pandemic.

Establish and set clear expectations

Even though the New World of Work may take a lot of getting used to, the actual business of getting work done still needs to happen.  Hence, when leading your team, you need to set clear expectations and timelines in place and give people enough forewarning to enable them to realistically meet their deadlines. 

Avoid having too many video meetings

Online video platforms such as Teams and Zoom have undoubtedly gained huge traction where remote work is concerned.  However, being ‘constantly on camera’ can be extremely draining for many people and certain people may also become self-conscious when looking away from the camera to take notes or even afraid that their meeting could be interrupted by dogs barking in the background or the cat jumping on their lap and walking over the keyboard.  Hence, unless it is absolutely necessary, avoiding having too many video meetings will keep everyone’s nerves intact.  Instead, send an email or pick up the phone.

Sources: paconsulting.com|alderkoten.com

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