By Jessica Heagren, CEO and Cofounder of That Works For Me.
When you have a mixed team of remote workers and office workers it can be difficult to keep a positive team dynamic going. As many businesses are reopening their offices, we’re entering into an important period of adjustment that can inevitably throw up some challenges for managers and leaders.
To maintain a team dynamic that’s both effective and successful it’s really vital to be prepared for the changes. You must have systems in place to ensure you have good communication between every member of your workforce and maintain a feeling of connection between workers in the office or remote.
Here are five ways to ensure you maintain a great team dynamic between remote and office workers.
- Work to build the team connection
Connection isn’t only about day-to-day interaction, it’s about feeling listened to and valued for your work, as well as being kept in the loop with general goings on and avoiding any feeling of being left out.
Outside of an office environment, it can sometimes feel harder to keep this kind of connection going, especially if you’re used to a traditional office structure. But there are simple things you can do to build team connection whether in the office or not.
Regular check-ins with your whole team, scheduled feedback sessions and virtual coffee breaks can all help you build and maintain that feeling of being connected as a team.
Carving out time every now and then to see your team face to face, even if they normally work remotely, is also a wonderful way of helping them to feel connected and valued within your business.
- Clear communication is key
Now that people are returning to the office, you want to be careful not to allow your remote workers to fall by the wayside. It’s incredibly important to make sure you have established effective communication channels for contacting your remote and office-based team members.
Though every business will have their preferred methods of communication, internal messaging systems generally trump emails! They allow for a more casual and natural chat style that helps to make communication clearer and can also help to create a more informal, positive and collaborative atmosphere.
You should creative an environment in which team members feel comfortable getting to know each other on an informal basis as well as in a work context, and encourage ‘watercooler’ conversations when the time and situation allows.
- Ensure your management team are up to the challenge
For many managers and team leaders, this will probably be the first time they’ve worked with remote and in-office team members in such a manner. Consider including training when it comes to planning your return-to-work strategy as it will help managers in the transition. This could include things like inclusivity training to ensure everyone understands what it takes to build a cooperative workplace culture, and everyone is on the same page.
- Create opportunities for people to express concerns and provide feedback
It’s likely that some of your team will feel anxious about the return to the office so it’s really important you give them the opportunity to express their thoughts and opinions. Make sure you provide everyone with a safe space to ask questions or share complaints. Welcome feedback and listen when it’s given, ensuring that you’re responding appropriately.
- Consider regional hubs
If you’re worried that your team dynamic may shift as a result of hybrid working, it could be a good idea to set up regional remote hubs where employees can choose to work. These flexible office spaces can help your team with a sense of connection wherever they are based.
Whatever your version of returning to ‘normal’ looks like, you can ensure your team will work hard for you in a way that works for them by embracing flexible working across every level of your business.
You’ll need to give people time to work through some of the teething issues but be sure to remind everyone that the long-term benefits of more engagement, more diversity, a better leadership pipeline and ultimately, better performance, are worth it.
Shout loud and proud about your flexible working policies. It’s a fantastic way to attract the top talent that is expecting access to flexible working options moving forward. If you adopt flexibility at every level of your business then you open up access to a global talent pool of highly experienced, highly motivated people who can add significant value to your organisation whilst working remotely around their family or other commitments.