Leveraging a 20-year HR career spanning diverse industries in both consulting and corporate roles, with Global Leadership scope, Xi Ren Yang, Founder of Xel Consulting, drives organizational excellence through employee engagement. As a Shared Leadership Coach, she empowers leaders and nurtures high-performing teams, enabling sustainable success. Drawing inspiration from personal triumphs over adversities, including a traumatic experience as a survivor of Alopecia Areata, she has developed a transformative and yet simple framework rooted in personal experiences and backed by neuroscience to foster mental resilience. She is passionate about empowering individuals with resilient mindsets through speeches, training and coaching so that they can thrive in challenges.
In today’s rapidly evolving work environment, leading hybrid teams has become the new norm.
In this era where employees crave flexibility and remote work while employers grapple with the desire for a return to the office, a critical dissonance emerges. Employers lack confidence in the productivity of remote work.
The challenge before us is to bridge this gap, creating a synergy that allows hybrid teams to flourish. The pivotal question that surfaces is: How can we unlock the full potential of hybrid work, recognizing that, when managed effectively, it can yield benefits such as higher employee well-being, engagement and performance?
Join me on this exploration as we delve into key insights that empower us to lead hybrid teams with efficacy, ultimately maximizing flexibility for a workforce that thrives in this new work paradigm.
The Rise of Hybrid Work
The global pandemic altered the way we work in unprecedented ways, ushering in a new era of flexible work arrangements. Remote work quickly gained momentum, and now, as we emerge from the pandemic, a significant portion of the workforce is advocating for the continuation of flexible work models.
Ernst & Young (EY) recently released its Work Reimagined Survey, which draws upon data from 17,050 employees across 25 different industries and 20 countries, reporting that employees prefer hybrid and remote work.
The future of work from home points towards a hybrid work model, merging the best of remote and in-office worlds to address issues such as mental well-being and organizational cohesion. This model not only caters to individual preferences but also unlocks numerous benefits for both employees and organizations.
The 2024 Employee Experience Trends Report by Qualtrics highlights that employees in hybrid working arrangements have the highest levels of engagement, intent to stay and feelings of well-being and inclusion in comparison to employees who work full-time in the office. In fact, those in a hybrid setting also have higher scores than employees who are fully remote and don’t spend any time in the office.
Nevertheless, effectively leading hybrid teams poses challenges, including communication hurdles, performance management intricacies and fostering team culture.
Let’s dive into the crucial role of leadership in overcoming these challenges and ensuring the success of this hybrid approach.
Leadership’s Role in Hybrid Teams
In the landscape of leading hybrid teams, leadership takes on a multifaceted role. It involves fostering an environment of trust, communication and adaptability. Here are 10 key considerations for leaders navigating this dynamic environment:
- Lead by Example: Demonstrate the benefits of the hybrid work model through your own experiences. Share how it positively impacts your work-life balance and overall well-being.
- Embrace Flexibility: Recognize that flexibility is a vital component of employee well-being. Accommodate employees’ schedules and respect their work-life boundaries.
- Focus on Outcomes: Instead of micromanaging, evaluate success based on results rather than time. Implement a robust performance management system that includes clear expectations, metrics and key behaviors that reflect organization’s values, regular reviews and coaching.
- Team Norms: Ensure alignment on how the team will work together effectively. This involves reviewing goals, strengths, behaviours and commitments to working in a hybrid environment. This could be captured in a team charter and routinely revisited during ongoing team check-in meetings.
- Effective Communication: In a hybrid work setting, clear and consistent communication is critical. Leaders should establish transparent communication channels, maintain regular check-ins and utilize collaboration tools to keep the team connected and well-informed. Additionally, ensure that team members are not only comfortable but also proficient in using the necessary collaboration tools and technologies.
- Social Connections: Promoting social connections is important, including building relationships within (and outside) your team, onboarding of employees into a new role or a new team and launching projects. Leaders should ensure that every team member feels included and valued. Encourage team members to actively participate in both virtual and in-person meetings and social events.
- Supportive Culture: Foster a culture where team members support and check-in with one another. Remind team members about the importance of taking regular breaks and stepping away from their workstations. Promoting breaks can improve mental well-being and increase productivity.
- Recognize Achievements: Celebrate individual and team achievements, whether they occur in the office or remotely. Recognizing team efforts and individual accomplishments can inspire motivation.
- Support Growth: Offer opportunities for skill development and career advancement, regardless of team members’ work locations. Encourage continuous learning to foster a growth mindset.
- Listen and Adapt: Actively seek feedback from your team about their experiences with the hybrid work model. Be open to making adjustments based on their input to enhance the overall work experience.
Successful leadership in hybrid teams is not merely a responsibility but an opportunity — to inspire, innovate and lead with empathy towards a future where teams thrive, regardless of their physical locations.
As we embark on this journey, let’s embrace the potential of hybrid work, ensuring that our leadership practices reflect the values of inclusivity, resilience and continuous growth for both individuals and the organization as a whole.
As a Shared Leadership Coach, I’m excited to continue supporting leaders and organizations in realizing the opportunities presented by leading hybrid teams and elevating them into high-performing teams. Together, we can create work environments where employees and organizations flourish in this new work landscape.
The era of leading hybrid teams is here, let’s harness its potential for the benefit of all!