Event report

Top strategies to manage hybrid teams

Last year, companies all over the world witnessed a near-instant shift to remote working as the pandemic swept across the globe. As the route out of the crisis starts to look clearer here in Europe, organisations are planning for the return to the physical office and exploring what that will look like in practice. Many will be adopting a hybrid virtual model which combines remote and on-site work. In theory this could give both employers and employees the best of both worlds, but there are plenty of considerations to ensure that hybrid working is implemented effectively and fairly.

We linked up with Globalization Partners and heard from two of their experts: Nick Adams, Vice President of EMEA and Janna Vidal, HR specialist, France, to discuss how companies can set up and manage effective hybrid teams, how to stay compliant and what hybrid working means for international employee relocation. The discussion was moderated by Melanie Stancliffe, Employment Partner at Cripps Pemberton Greenish and Co-Chair of our HR Forum.

Even before the pandemic, technology and digital connectivity had advanced so rapidly that both employers and employees began to question whether we really need to be together in an office to work. The pandemic answered this question, even if companies hadn’t been prepared for it to happen in an instant. Employees soon realised that they don’t need to be co-located with colleagues in the office to do job, and entire workforces realised that they could perform well while being physically separated. Businesses also found more upsides than they perhaps expected; lower real estate costs, more mobile global talent, fewer immigration issues, and higher productivity.

On the flipside, this high productivity in a remote work scenario has masked an exhausted workforce; employees are suffering from zoom fatigue, digital exhaustion and overload, and are missing out on important human connection with colleagues. In trying to pinpoint the right hybrid model for each organisation, leaders need to balance the benefits of collaboration and in-person meetings, and the advantages of work remotely, keeping in mind that this may not the same for every team and role.

Nick outlined the four main hybrid models that many businesses are considering:

  • Partially remote work with a large HQ in which company leaders and most employees spend the majority, but not all, of their time in 1-2 principal offices. 
  • Partially remote work with multiple hubs in which there could be multiple offices with dispersed leadership and employees among all offices.
  • Multiple Micro-Hubs wherein leadership and employees are dispersed over micro-hubs spread across various geographies
  • Partially remote work with Flex Space where there are no permanent offices, but rented flex spaces used for in-person collaboration

When developing models and policies for hybrid working, companies need to ensure that whatever office space they retain should provide the best returns in terms of employee productivity, with well-designed project spaces, social hubs and work zones to boost collaboration. Janna urged companies to focus on social cohesion, trust-building, and nurturing a shared culture providing identity and belonging when adopting a hybrid model.

With hybrid working becoming the new norm, employers will need to listen to their workforce in order to retain talent, boost productivity and hopefully achieve that ideal balance between remote and on-site work. Nick and Janna’s practical tips and guidance on compliance are a great place to start, and this webinar is a must-watch for anyone involvement in the development of hybrid working models.

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