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No One Size Fits All Solution to Managing Hybrid Teams

10th Nov 2023
Brought to you by
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Mercia is one of the leading providers of training and support services to the UK accountancy...
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There are many challenges to managing a hybrid team, from monitoring efficiency remotely to keeping an eye on staff wellbeing, and from keeping everyone in the loop when they are geographically dispersed to making sure people come into the office as required. However, there is no one size fits all solution, so management techniques must be tailored to the needs of individual members of staff.

That was the message from Louise Conner, Mercia’s Management and Skills Trainer and Consultant at the firm’s latest members’ Ask the Experts event, ‘Overcoming your Hybrid Hurdles’.

Questions and struggles

Conner said:

There isn’t a one-size-fits-all all answer. All the questions and struggles you have all relate back to people management. We can’t manage everybody in the same way and we need to understand that people have unique needs and communicate in different ways. So, it is learning how to adapt to that individual to get the best out of them.

I wish I could say this is the right model for everybody that you’re going to manage but it is really not. It is about getting to know the team members, getting to know their needs and how they need to be managed.

Returning to the office

Post-Covid, many firms are trying to encourage people back into the office. Some organisations want everyone back in office locations while others are staying hybrid.

Many employees like being at home; it is more flexible for them around their personal life and family life. So, how do you balance the needs of the organisation against those preferences?

It is important to recognise that the need for people to be in the office; to collaborate, share ideas and learn from each other is tied closely to levels of experience. More experienced staff do not need to be in the office full time whereas those with less experience like to have the communication because they’re learning.

To help encourage people to come in, organisations can set days a week in the office and mix the experience levels so people can learn from each other.

Conner says employers must be reasonable and flexible.

She adds:

Focus on the positives of why we want people back in the office. It helps with communication, it helps with activity, it makes people feel in the loop and it helps well-being. Focus on the benefits to the team and the individual, the reasons why the business wants people back in the office.

Trusting hybrid staff

Managers who run hybrid teams must find ways to effectively monitor workloads and progress remotely. This means setting KPIs, goals and targets and ensuring they are met without micro-managing people.

Conner said:

It’s about trust. As long as tasks are completed and the work is done it shows people can be trusted. If they then need to take slightly longer for lunch they can be transparent about it.

When you micro-manage people and the trust isn’t there that’s when they start to resist a little bit again.

Check in to make sure tasks are complete if they’re not find out why. Is there any other support they need? Are they struggling with anything in particular?

Other issues may stem from the need for flexibility for those with childcare needs and the need to be fair to other staff who don’t have families.

Managers should not feel the need to find the answers to every situation themselves. They should seek support and guidance from HR where necessary.

Remote onboarding

Inducting new starters who are based remotely into hybrid teams brings another set of challenges. However, there are a number of steps that can be taken to ease the path of new joiners into an organisation even if they are yet to spend time in the office with their new colleagues.

These include sending out information before a new joiner starts. This gives them the chance to get to know the firm’s policies and procedures beforehand. If possible let them have an office plan, links to websites and logins.

Some firms now provide induction videos and online learning and arrange Microsoft Teams meetings so they can meet their new colleagues. Others arrange buddy systems for new starters and take people on virtual tours of the office.

Conner said:

That’s the norm now, people accept that, so make sure they have easy access to the information that they need about the policies around data protection, passwords and cyber security. Make sure that they have all the right equipment beforehand and make sure that their workstation is set up correctly.

Once they have joined, regular health and safety checks are vital. These will ensure staff have the right desk set up, are sitting on an appropriate chair in good posture and are taking regular breaks from screens.

Progression to Management pathways

Mercia’s membership options now include Progression to Management pathways.

We have recognised that those who have recently qualified may need additional support. In response, Mercia has created pathways per technical stream for individuals moving towards or who are new to management.