hybrid team

It’s one thing to have an existing team change the way they work. But what about bringing new people into the fold on a hybrid team? 

Most of the focus on returning to work has been on getting your existing team members to work together in more of a hybrid way. Not everyone is going to be back in the office five days a week. Some will, others will be remote most of the time, and others will pick and choose depending on the day, the workload, and other factors.  In organizations where everyone already knew each other, this hasn’t proven to be nearly as difficult as many thought it might be. 

But what about hiring new team members? There’s one set of criteria when people are coming into the office every day (Do they live within commuting distance? Do they have physical conditions that need to be accommodated?) or when they will be remote a hundred percent of the time (Do they have decent internet and a room with a door?).

Here are some things you’ll need to consider when hiring new people to work in a primarily hybrid environment.

Are they a good fit, regardless of where they’ll work most of the time?

When hiring for a hybrid team, work comes first. Is this the right person for the job? Are there any major red flags? Are they excited about this new work arrangement or worried they might not be successful? Like leadership, think about the job to be done first, location second.

Do they have flexibility to come into the office when needed and appropriate?

It’s one thing for people to know they might have to go into the office on occasion, it’s another to be able to do it on specific days or on short notice. Meeting and working together in person should be determined by the work being done, not by who doesn’t feel like fighting traffic that day or who selfishly hates zoom meetings and insists people come in.

Are they okay with the physical space and arrangements?

Just like people, organizations have done some thinking during the last 18 months about how to organize their workspaces and maximize revenue. Some people will be coming back to (or joining) companies that have downsized their offices, or moved to “hoteling,” situations where people share desks depending on the day. This is a much bigger deal for some people than others.

Are they going to communicate proactively?

One of the most important factors on any team is proactive communication, but on a hybrid team it becomes more complicated. For many people, the natural thing to do is ask questions of the people in close proximity, or with whom there is an existing relationship. New team members will need to proactively build relationships with their teammates, and go to the right people with the right questions at the right time. 

What’s their work style and how will you leverage that knowledge?

It’s sometimes helpful to get a sense of someone’s work style before bringing them into a team. While there is no “exactly right” way to work, and it’s important not to fall into confirmation bias, trends such as whether someone is introverted or extroverted, or do they enjoy being left alone to do highly detailed work, may indicate how well they’ll fit on your team. 

Will they be “ethically visible” to you and their teammates? 

Out of sight and out of mind is not just an expression, it’s the biggest challenge to hybrid teamwork, especially for newer team members. When choosing a new teammate, you have to consider how they will maintain visibility to you as their manager. Are they comfortable asking uncomfortable questions? Will they contribute appropriately to team discussions? Are they willing to use their webcams when not in the office?

The good news is that hiring for a hybrid team is often easier than moving from a standard working situation to a new way of collaborating. Recruiting and on-boarding requires understanding the work that needs to be done and how your team will accomplish that. With those expectations in place, and properly shared, it shouldn’t be a huge step to bringing the right person into your workplace.

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Wayne Turmel--The Remote Leadership Institute

Wayne Turmel
Co-Founder and Product Line Manager

Wayne Turmel is the co-founder and Product Line Manager for the Remote Leadership Institute. For twenty years he’s been obsessed with helping managers communicate more effectively with their teams, bosses and customers. Wayne is the author of several books that demystify communicating through technology including Meet Like You Mean It – a Leader’s Guide to Painless & Productive Virtual Meetings, 10 Steps to Successful Virtual Presentations and 6 Weeks to a Great Webinar. His work appears frequently in Management-Issues.com.

Wayne, along with Kevin Eikenberry, has co-authored the definitive book on leading remotely, The Long-Distance Leader: Rules for Remarkable Remote Leadership. Wayne and Kevin’s follow-up book, The Long-Distance Teammateoffers a roadmap for success not just for leaders, but for everyone making the transition to working remotely.

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