Because going to the office every day seems like a trend of the past, in this article, we'll give you 12 tips to help you manage your tech team in a hybrid work environment.
The Covid-19 pandemic forced many businesses to change their work models. While some companies decided to keep their employees working remotely (and there are some good reasons to do it) others got to experience hybrid work. Hybrid tech teams can have some members who work completely on-site, others that are entirely remote, and even some that work in person for a few days and off-side on others.
Hybrid work is becoming more popular among business and tech companies as it provides great flexibility for both workers and the organization as a whole. However, this type of work model might prove to become difficult to handle if not managed properly. In this article, we'll be sharing some tips on how to manage a tech team in hybrid work, so keep reading!
How to manage a tech team in hybrid work: 12 best practices
1. Create a common work structure
Having a tech team working in a hybrid model means that you'll have to find a place everyone's work can "meet", a common place to consistently check out processes and establish workflows that are accessible to anyone, anywhere.
Taking advantage of project management and communication tools like Slack and Trello you can guarantee that your team members have quick and easy access to each other and to all the tasks that need to be done, with a clear vision of priority and levels of completion.
These tools will help you define the best practices for each task at hand in a comprehensive manner (just make sure they click with your team), so your tech team members can still enjoy some creative freedom while knowing which steps they have to take next.
Perimeter 81’s CPO, Sagi Gidali, believes that hybrid work models are the future of work. Their teams use Slack, Monday, and other tools throughout the company.
We hold bi-quarterly ‘All Hands’ Zoom meetings where we update the company on major announcements, milestones, and achievements, and all the departments have the opportunity to present their latest accomplishments and initiatives. Within each department, daily Zoom calls take place to make sure all team members are working in unison, regardless of location. We believe these recurring calls are key in keeping the entire hybrid workforce engaged, involved, and connected” - Sagi Gidali, CPO at Perimeter 81’s.
2. Encourage visibility
Not being able to physically check on your team members and their work might be cause for some stress, however, there’s no need to hover over anyone nor try to micromanage every little detail in a hybrid setting, which only leads to a toxic work environment.
Instead try to find new ways to make everyone’s work visible not just to you, but to all team members. You can try different work tracking tools (like the ones mentioned previously), daily written reports, regular team updates, or some sort of internal team IT portfolio.
Katrina Bekessy, VP of technology at R/GA recognizes how important it is to use the right work tracking tools to manage a tech team in hybrid work:
One of the most important factors of these tools is providing full visibility – a glasshouse – for everyone to see what is happening and participate and not miss opportunities to add value to the work." - Katrina Bekessy, VP of technology at R/GA.
3. Adjust onboarding processes
Hiring people with a hybrid model in place is quite different from hiring someone to work on-site all of the time, and there are some things to keep in mind.
Besides being a great programmer or developer there are a few other qualities a potential new employee needs to have to succeed in a hybrid tech team. So, as a manager, it might be in your best interest to hire the right people, not necessarily the best people. Prioritize workers that are proactive, punctual, responsive, adaptable, and no strangers to remote work, if possible.
Make sure you also create the best environment possible for newcomers. A few steps in the workflow go by without the need of documentation or explanation for those used to doing them, and without the possibility of working on-site, newcomers might not be able to pick up on them so easily.
That’s why you need to make sure that every step is crystal clear for everyone and keep communication flowing. Only this way will the new team members be able to catch up quickly and the tech team able to benefit from a great new colleague.
4. Organize, organize, organize
To manage a tech team in hybrid work, you can’t organize enough. For your team to succeed you need to ensure proper organization methods, great planning, and constant communication.
You’ll need to find ways to document future plans, important notes, business decisions, action items, meeting minutes and have them easily accessible for anyone who might need to consult them. A great tool for this is called Notion. This popular collaboration tool allows you to connect projects, documents and all sorts of notes from Google Docs, emails, and Slack in one single place. It will help with keeping your team members productive and on top of what’s next on their priority list.
Some hybrid models will grant full flexibility to the employees, allowing them to also choose when they want to work. When this happens, you must organize scheduling between your team members. This involves knowing your tech team well, understanding at which times they are more productive, and assigning them the right tasks and collaborators.
5. Equip your team with all the tools they need
Experienced IT professionals, most likely, already know which software and hardware tools they need to perform their amazing work, but besides providing those materials, you also need to make sure that they have all the tools they need to succeed in a hybrid tech team.
Asana, Slack, Google Drive, and Zoom are only a few remote collaboration tools any team might need to succeed. The great advantages of these tools is that, first most of them can be used for free, and second they integrate with several other programs and services, so you can customize them while having the needs of your team members in mind.
R/GA, for example, is a great investor in the right tools for their teams, as they help them focus, be productive, and stay connected.
In Slack, we've created a R/GA bot that helps team members quickly do everything from learning about other team members skills to seeing what people are working on, as well as create webhooks from Jira or CI/CD tools to feed in updates and activity from the team in real-time,” - Katrina Bekessy, VP of technology at R/GA.
6. Adapt your conflict management plan
In every working team, conflict is bound to happen. With a tech team in hybrid work, you won’t always have the possibility to quickly call people up to your office to try and solve the issues, as some of them (or all of them) might be working remotely.
Chris Nicholson, CEO of Pathmind has two great tips for managers who need to come up with a conflict management plan.
Private is better than public" - Chris Nicholson, CEO of Pathmind.
No conflict should ever be mediated in front of an audience (a live one or one on a Slack channel or email chain). Having a team member singled out in front of everyone else might cause great embarrassment and hinder productivity from that moment forward. If you need to address a sensitive situation with an employee, do it privately.
A conversation face-to-face is better than an email” - Chris Nicholson, CEO of Pathmind.
To take it one step further, take that private communication and conduct it face to face, or through video chat to make it more personal. This type of communication is much better than sending a simple email or message, it allows you to see and analyze the emotions of your team members, and vice-versa. It’s a much better way to create trust, build ties, and understand what went wrong and what’s needed to move forward.
7. Try to discourage a “them” vs. “us” culture
Speaking of avoiding conflict, it’s pretty easy to fall into some sort of division between the remote workers and the on-site ones. These sorts of separations lead the people who work on one side to see themselves as a group that’s “against” the ones on the other side.
As a hybrid team leader, the last thing you want is your tech team members brewing toxic feelings for each other so be sure to encourage relationship building exercises like, for example, virtual team building events that can be done remotely, in which your team members have to work together to succeed.
Try to have them work on their personal relationships and motivate them to be as supportive and respectful at all times.
8. Keep an eye out for burnout
Burnout is a type of prolonged work-related stress resulting from an accumulation of unaddressed incidents. In a tech hybrid work environment, it can be caused by the sense of a lack of control over a job, the lack of ability to meet goals, feeling bad for asking for time off, being unrecognized, and much more.
This type of stress can lead to several adverse physical and mental conditions, so you must do your best to be on the lookout for its signs. The first step to do this is to regularly be in touch with your team members. Try meeting them individually, evaluate their thoughts and feelings, and ask for feedback.
Apart from this, you can always assure your tech team members that it's alright to take some time off, increase awareness of the importance of taking care of mental health, and allow for more flexibility in scheduling.
9. Measure performance and give recognition fairly
As the leader of a tech team in hybrid work, you can no longer measure performance as how many hours your team members spend at their desks because you obviously can’t see them.
Now you need to keep your focus on your workflow and organization tools to evaluate the quality of the work your team members are putting out. Look out for who’s completing their tasks timely, who’s creating the best work, and who’s basically giving their all to help the team achieve its goals.
Also be sure to have fair career progression options for both on-site and remote team members.
10. Set SMART goals
To manage a tech team in hybrid work, it's important to keep your team members productive and on track, so be sure to set up individual and team goals that will simultaneously benefit the business and allow personal development. Make sure the goals you set are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time Sensitive.
You want them to be specific but also attainable and realistic, only then will they work as a productivity boost and keep remote workers motivated without the need of having a manager around to pump them up.
At KWAN we help each KWANer establish their own professional goals, whether those are regarding hard skills or soft skills.
The goal doesn't really have a specific duration or a specific area, each KWANer is free to decide how they want to define their own goals. Then we come up with a training plan which we call "This is The Way". Some KWANers prefer one-time intensive courses, others prefer short but more regular courses. Some want to improve their soft skills and others prefer to improve their hard skills. Some want to improve the skills that directly impact their current project and others want to acquire new skills. Whatever professional goal KWANers want to achieve, we're happy to support them. - Jorge Becho, People Manager @ KWAN
11. Create special events to bring your team together
Regardless of the fact that some of the members of your team are working remotely, you should always try to find unique moments and events that can bring everyone together.
Many teams like to take Christmas time, for example, and use it to plan a Christmas dinner, with secret Santa. But there are plenty of other opportunities to get your team together, so that everyone knows each other face-to-face.
12. Adapt team benefits and rewards for remote workers
If your company allows you to offer rewards and special benefits to your tech team members, you need to make sure that the people working remotely also get something equivalent, because you don’t want them to feel left out.
If you’re having your in-site members participate in specific tech courses or conferences, make sure there’s an option to participate remotely as well. However, if the benefits you offer are inaccessible to remote workers try at least to find something equivalent. For example, if your office comes with a gym membership for your team, try finding an online fitness program that your remote workers can enjoy too.
How to Manage a Tech Team in Hybrid Work: Final Thoughts
Managing a tech team in hybrid work may differ from traditional management - in which everyone was going to the office every day - but it definitively has its advantages!
From being able to access a wider pool of high-quality talent to allowing your team to work some days from home.
If you guarantee good communication, offer the best working conditions and tools, set attainable goals, and organize everything, your team will be able to achieve success regardless of where they work from.
Also, make sure to frequently follow up with each team member, regardless if they work on-set or remotely for the most time, ask for feedback, and check for burnout signals. Most importantly, keep on leading by example and you'll have the best tech team in your hands.
And if you need help with that task, we're happy to be your outsourcing/recruitment partner!
With over 15 years of experience recruiting in the IT market, count with the expertise of our Ambassadors of KWAN to help you find and take care of your tech team.
Get in touch and let's explore together how can we help your tech team grow and thrive!