What happens when, as a leader of a hybrid team, you find it hard to dish out work equally?
Leaders often fall into a pattern of assigning high-stakes work to those in the office, because it’s more convenient to share contextual information and foster a deeper connection with those workers. There can also be a sense – rightly or wrongly – that they are better placed to understand the culture and the subtleties of what is needed because they are more exposed to the way the company works. What should leaders who find themselves in this position do?
Leaders who are favouring any particular group will need to change their behaviour. It’s unfair on those who are left out, and on those who are given extra work just because they are in the office. Work should be distributed equally. There shouldn’t be a sense of favouritism.
1. Get to know your online team members better
The easiest factor to change is yourself and trying to find new ways to embrace your online team members. So, if you’re not already doing the work around cultivating relationships with those online, and encouraging good relationships across your team, you should focus your attention there first. Making sure that your communications with them are clear and equitable; that you’re giving lots of opportunities for informal chat; and you’re creating shared objectives and a sense of purpose. (Find more helpful detail on how to do this in the resources section below).
2. Help them to increase their knowledge
Key to your success will be sharing the work more evenly across your team. If it’s a worry that the remote workers lack context and cultural awareness, you need to find ways to help them fill in the spaces. Communicating clearly what’s expected of them; giving them feedback on how they’ve missed the mark and what needs improving; and following up regularly to check they’re on task will all help.
3. Bridge gaps between home and office workers
I also think bridging the gaps between the two teams by making sure that they are regularly interacting with one another would be beneficial. Maybe you could make project teams, where two people – one remote and one ‘in office’ work together on the project, providing the sort of reassurance that you need on each task, whilst also upskilling the remote workers and bridging the divide that’s opening up. It could go a long way to reducing the feelings of exclusion.
4. Don’t rule out a need for face to face
Also, and I realise this is a bit of a cheat, but if your company’s hybrid policy will allow it, you should also think about instigating an ‘everyone in’ day every few weeks or so, and use that as an opportunity to dish out new projects. Then it’ll be more feasible to give them to the more remote workers because you can book in face-to-face time to talk them through the projects on the days they’re in.
5. Share your concerns
Finally, I think you should share your concerns with the team and ask what they think you should do about it. Even if they don’t come up with any great suggestions, confiding in them and showing that you think it’s a ‘live’ problem will be good for reassuring everyone that it’s not a problem you’re just ignoring, particularly if you tell them what you’re already doing to help and what further actions you commit to.
Three resources to help bridge gaps in hybrid teams:
- Improving team culture in a hybrid team:
- How to bridge differences between any two groups:
- How to do hybrid right:
Did you find this post interesting? For more content like this, sign-up to my newsletter, ‘Dear Katie’, where I help solve real-life messy leadership problems.
Have a leadership problem of your own? Submit it via email – firstname.lastname@example.org – and I will answer it anonymously in a future issue.