Leading Hybrid & Virtual Teams

As we begin to see the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel (fingers crossed), office employees will come back to their office buildings. But not all. Our quantum leap in digital collaboration showed us that we don’t have to be physically present to do most of our work. So how will managers lead their hybrid and virtual teams when they have a blend of people working from anywhere? How will they exercise their Hybrid leadership?

I have read articles showing that many employees will quit if they are forced to work from the office every day of the week. I am working with large corporations that realize that they will be unattractive if they don’t allow people to work from home at least parts of the time. This will put the leaders to a new test, or at least new to the many. For some, this is the way they have worked for decades. (I already have a couple of dozen questions, and more are piling up). One of the most urgent ones is:

How will we meet, greet, and treat employees when some are at the office, and others work from anywhere?

Who is most important? The ones you meet in the physical space or the ones in the virtual space? I

If your answer is “both,” then how will you behave so that everyone feels it?

Go back to 2018. Most conference calls were still done by phone or by the “good” old Skype calls with only voice and PowerPoint. Often you had five people from the headquarter gathered around a digital campfire, i.e., the conference phone, and then you had another three team members calling in. If you were one of the remote colleagues in this scenario, you would soon feel left out as the HQ team started to whisper, giggle, draw something on a whiteboard you couldn’t see, and munch away on a cinnamon bun that the team leader so kindly bought to everyone present – physically. You would quickly realize that they had already discussed most of the topics before entering the meeting, and you would perhaps be a bit envious of how they seemed to get along so well while your relationships were shallower…

Fast forward to the midst of the pandemic. Now almost everyone is in a video call. We have the same windows, the same possibility to chat, we see the same virtual whiteboard and use the same breakout functionality. The meetings are not as rich, but we have found ways to compensate for some of the problems of digital communication, and we have found new ways of working that sometimes are even better than before.

And then, we are about to enter the next phase, i.e., the hybrid workplace.

What have we learned from all this that will help us in the future? How will we lead, meet, and communicate going forward? Here are my predictions:

Hybrid workplaces where some people are at the office, and others work from anywhere are here to stay.

Downsizing offices will present new challenges. Some companies are already talking about downsizing. They need to figure out how that will affect team spirit and how they can compensate for occasions where too many have travelled to the office the same day.

Physical “all team” meetings will be a complement to building relationships. To meet physically is still superior when it comes to building relationships and communicating on a deeper level. I predict that any team that has the resources will find time to meet, perhaps off-site, a couple of times per year.

Some teams where members live close to each other’s will have certain days where everyone is expected to be in the office.

If you want all people to feel motivated, appreciated, and engaged, all meetings should be done with the same digital tools for everyone. For instance. If you have a meeting where three people are online, then everybody should be online. Everybody should use the chat, menti, etc. Everybody should share a screen instead of pointing a camera at the projector canvas in a room. If your group communicated via a chatline during a fully virtual context, then keep doing it. This will for sure feel awkward. For 1o1’s, this doesn’t apply. Just like you can pick up the phone, you can walk to someone’s desk.

If you lead a team, one thing is the same: Your mission is to get the desired outcome. The best way to do that is to have safe, engaged, motivated, high-performing people. You get that by having outstanding workplace communication, regardless of where your people are located. And you make sure that everyone feels included and not excluded, which means you work mainly with digital tools even when some are back from the office.

Antoni’s Team’s Explanation

We are a team of Antoni’s that work together to provide an explanation of how we think, feel, and work. We are all unique individuals with our own strengths and weaknesses. However, we share a common goal: to produce the best possible outcome for our team, our company, and most importantly, our customers.

In order to do this, we rely on several key communication tools that allow us to stay connected and work together effectively, regardless of where we are located. Here we will briefly describe Hybrid and Virtual Meetings, Meaningful Moments, and Managing Hybrid and Virtual Teams.

Hybrid Meeting:

A hybrid meeting is a meeting that combines both face-to-face and remote participants. This type of meeting can be used in a variety of situations, such as when team members are located in different parts of the world or when some team members are unable to travel to the meeting location.

What are some key things to remember when holding a hybrid meeting?

When holding a hybrid meeting, be sure to consider the following:

– Whether all participants will be in the same location or whether some will be remote: If all participants are not in the same location, you will need to decide. Whether to use a video conferencing tool or a conference call.

– What type of meeting format will work best: There is a variety of meeting formats that can be used for hybrid meetings, such as roundtable discussions, panel discussions, or breakout sessions.

– The technology that will be used for the meeting: In order to ensure that all participants can see and hear each other, it is important to choose a reliable video conferencing tool or conference call service.

How to manage a hybrid team: 

When it comes to managing hybrid teams, there are a few best practices you should keep in mind. Here are a few tips for managing hybrid teams effectively:

-Encourage communication and collaboration: One of the most important things you can do as a manager is to encourage communication and collaboration among your hybrid team members. This means creating an environment where team members feel comfortable sharing ideas and working together towards common goals.

-Create clear roles and responsibilities: It’s important: to make sure each team member knows their role and what is expected of them. This will help to ensure that everyone is working towards the same objectives and avoid any confusion or overlap in roles.

-Establish guidelines for remote work: If you have team members who are working remotely, it’s important to establish some guidelines for how they should work. This might include setting expectations for communication, setting work hours, and establishing protocols for handling work-related tasks.

-Encourage a healthy work-life balance: It’s important to encourage team members to maintain a healthy work-life balance. This means ensuring that they have time for personal and professional commitments outside of work.

How can you ensure that all team members feel engaged and included in the meeting?

There are a few things you can do to ensure that all team members feel engaged and included in the meeting:

– Make sure everyone has a chance to speak: When you’re planning the meeting, make sure that there is time for everyone to share their ideas and thoughts.

– Use breakout sessions: If you have a large team, you might want to consider using breakout sessions. This will allow smaller groups of team members to discuss the topics in more detail and ensure that everyone has a chance to participate.

– Encourage questions and discussion: Encourage team members to ask questions and contribute to the discussion. This will help to ensure that everyone is engaged in the meeting and that they feel like their ideas are valued.

– Follow up after the meeting: Once the meeting is over, be sure to follow up with team members. This will help to ensure that everyone feels like their input was valued and that they are aware of the next steps.

Virtual Meeting: 

A virtual meeting is a meeting that is conducted entirely online, with all participants joining via a video conferencing platform. This type of meeting is often used when team members are located in different parts of the world or when some team members are unable to travel to the meeting location.

What are some key things to remember when holding a Virtual Meeting?

Some key things to remember when holding a virtual meeting include:

1. Make sure everyone has the same video conferencing platform installed and that they know how to use it.

2. Test the audio and video connection before the meeting starts.

3. Set a clear agenda for the meeting and stick to it.

4. Encourage all participants to mute their microphones when they are not speaking.

5. Pay attention to body language cues, as they can be more difficult to read online.

6. Use the chat function to type out any questions or comments during the meeting.

7. End the meeting on time.

How to Handle a Virtual teams

Now that you know how to hold a virtual meeting, here are some tips on how to handle virtual teams:

1. Get to know your team members by sending out a brief questionnaire before the first meeting: You can learn a lot about someone by asking the right questions. By sending out a brief questionnaire to your team members before the first virtual meeting, you can get to know them better and start to build rapport.

2. Communicate frequently: It’s important to communicate often with virtual team members in order to maintain a good working relationship. Set up regular virtual meetings and encourage virtual team members to use the chat function or video conferencing platform to stay in touch throughout the week.

3. Set clear expectations: When leading virtual teams, it’s important to set clear expectations from the beginning. This will help everyone stay on track and avoid misunderstandings.

4. Be patient: Working with virtual teams can be challenging at times, so it’s important to be patient.

By following these tips, you’ll be on your way to leading a successful virtual team.

How can you ensure that all team members feel engaged and included in your Virtual meeting?

There are a few things you can do to ensure that all team members feel engaged and included in your virtual meeting:

1. Create an agenda and send it out before the meeting: By sending out an agenda before the meeting, you’ll give everyone a chance to see what will be discussed and have time to prepare any questions or comments they might have.

2. Make certain that everyone has a chance to express themselves: It can be easy for some team members to dominate the conversation in a virtual meeting. To avoid this, make sure to give everyone a chance to speak by going around the virtual “room” and asking each person for their input.

3. Encourage team members to use the chat function: The chat function can be a great way for team members to ask questions or make comments during the meeting. Encourage everyone to use it if they need to.

By following these tips, you can ensure that all team members feel engaged and included in your virtual meeting.

Final Words

Whether you’re leading a team in person or virtually, it’s important to remember the basics of good leadership. By following these simple tips, you can help ensure that your team is productive and engaged whether they are in the same room or oceans apart. Have you tried using hybrid or virtual meetings? What tips do you have for making them successful? Let us know in the comments!

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