by Kevin Eikenberry
One of the reasons some organizations give for their decision to bring everyone back to the office is “we need collaboration.” In fact, after “we need to be together for our culture” (I’ve dispelled that myth in this post) it is the second most common concern about a hybrid workplace. Hybrid team collaboration is possible, if we are willing to think about it a bit more, make some adjustments, and engage the team in the solution.
Keys to Hybrid Team Collaboration
When the following are present, you are far more likely to create greater collaboration, regardless of where people are working.
- A clear team purpose. When people see the purpose and mission of the team, and when it is something they understand and can be excited about, they are far more likely to want to collaborate. After all, the purpose is worth it! Are you making sure people see the purpose and realize their role in reaching it?
- The expectation of collaboration. When people recognize that being successful in their role means they must collaborate, they are more likely to do it. If not, they are more likely to focus on their personal task list. Do people see that collaboration is an important part of their job?
- Solid collaboration skills. To effectively collaborate there are some skills that are needed. The ability to communicate. The willingness to listen. An open mind to consider alternatives. Team problem solving skills. This is just a short list – make the list for your team or organization. Do your people have the skills for hybrid team collaboration?
- Technology to support collaboration. For hybrid team collaboration to happen you need the right technology to support the communication and collaboration itself. Before you rush out to buy new tools though, make sure the team knows how to use the tools you already have. Think about what you need and determine if your current tools can get you there with the right awareness and skills. Once people know a tool can help them, they will be far more willing to use it for collaboration (or any other) purpose. And yes, there are virtual whiteboards that can be nearly as effective (and actually have some advantages over the one on the office or conference room wall). Are you supporting people in using technology to support hybrid team collaboration?
- Prescribed processes for collaboration success. When people know how to reach out to each other, where there are clear agreements about availability and a sense of the cadence of collaboration, you help people to collaborate. Sometimes people don’t collaborate because they don’t want to bother others or don’t know how to make it happen when they can’t see if someone is busy. Do you have agreements and processes for when and how you will collaborate?
- Flexibility and the willingness to adapt. Maybe people need to let go of the belief that it is harder to collaborate when they aren’t face to face. It is different, but different doesn’t necessarily mean harder. Are you giving people the chance to figure it out together rather than lament that fact that they are in the same location to collaborate?
Look at this list as a way to analyze why your hybrid team might not be collaborating the way you wish. And use the questions at the end of each item in the list to spur action as needed.
Want to build your hybrid team with greater success and confidence? Want to help your hybrid team members succeed and be more productive and collaborative? The Building an Effective Hybrid Team Master Class might be your best next step. You can learn more about how to build your hybrid team -and get greater hybrid team collaboration.