Leading a hybrid small team can be challenging, but it can also be very rewarding. Leaders must create an engaging and inclusive atmosphere for their employees to be a part of. Read on to learn how you can be an effective leader, and follow these tips and tricks from business experts to help your hybrid team reach success.

Communication is Key

Dylan Arthur Garber, Co-Founder Audien Hearing

Communication is key to leading and establishing healthy relationships with employees on your hybrid small team. Leaders of hybrid teams should set clear, communication expectations up front so that your employees know how to communicate and when. Be sure to set up communication ground rules to establish times for team meetings, and also time for your  employees to set their devices down, and unplug. Utilizing office tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Outlook will help to streamline communications and collaboration across your team. As a leader, you must also pay attention to the needs of your individual employees, and be able to set time aside to communicate with them individually.

Build Trust With Your Employees

Michael Jankie, Founder The Natural Patch Co.

If you are in charge of leading a hybrid team, part of your job as a leader is to build trust with your employees. This is done by treating your employees with respect and fairness, listening to their feedback, and making sure that they feel included, despite working remotely. Remote employees may feel like they have less access to leaders than if they were working in-office, which is why setting up one-on-one meetings with all of your team members is so important in a hybrid work environment. In these meetings, be sure to encourage your employees to have their cameras on, and make sure that you are leading by example. This will help to create a culture of transparency and will help you to build trust with your employees.

Create a Sense of Community and Promote Inclusion

Justin Chan, Growth Manager JuneShine

As a leader, there are several ways to create a community within your team’s hybrid work environment. Inviting your remote workers to zoom in and be a part of in-office events such as lunch-and-learns, guest speaker presentations, and work celebrations will help to foster a sense of community to all of your team members, wherever they are located. You can also encourage both your in-office and remote employees to send in fun photos from family vacations, personal milestones, holidays, to include in weekly employee email updates, so that your whole team can stay up to date on team members’ celebrations, successes, and milestones. Encouraging informal coffee hour chats or Friday happy hour events are also great ways to encourage that sense of community among your team. Creating a sense of community will be sure to help your hybrid team feel included, and will lead to a happier workplace for all.

Encourage Employee Productivity and Find Ways to Drive Focus

Dylan Trussell, Co-Founder Culprit Underwear

When leading a hybrid small team, it is up to the leaders and managers to encourage productivity among employees and to drive focus among your team. Leaders should be actively setting goals for projects, articulating priorities, and focusing on the results. You can help your remote employees with finding the best ways to manage their time, so that they can get their work done as efficiently as possible. Driving focus is key in hybrid working environments, because as a leader, you must find ways to set core hours for employees to work, and establish guidelines for flexibility regarding asynchronous work as well.

Establish Work Hours and Expectations

Ryan Rottman, Co-Founder & CEO OSDB

Hybrid work environments are by definition, flexible. Therefore, consider adding flex days and flex hours to your hybrid work policy. You should also address things such as working on the weekends, working after-hours, and adjusting meetings to fit everyone’s time zones. Teaching your employees to respect those time differences is also critical in a hybrid work environment. You can also drive productivity in a hybrid workplace by setting and committing to deadlines, which will help with getting projects finished in an efficient and timely manner. This will help to make your expectations known among your team.

Building a hybrid work schedule will also help to keep your team on task. The first step in this process is to gather data, and listen to feedback from your team about what days they’d like to work in the office, remotely, and which days they’d prefer to have off. You can then start separating tasks by which ones are office-friendly and remote-friendly, and then you can delegate these projects accordingly amongst your hybrid team. Many leaders prefer a rotating schedule, which gives all employees the option of having in-office and remote time. However, you should always start small when transitioning to the hybrid model, as this can be a big change for employees, and they will need time to adapt. Once the schedule is set, you must then spend time reevaluating, seeing what works for your team, and then making necessary changes as needed. This process will help you to make a schedule that will fit your team’s needs, and will set the expectations for your hybrid small team.

Avoid Employee Burnout

Scott Sonneborn, Co-Founder Tydo

Burnout is a serious issue that many working individuals face. Burnout at work can be caused by stress, lack of motivation, loneliness, and even just dealing with the challenges of adapting to a new, hybrid work environment. In order to combat employee burnout and to tackle the issue before it happens, leaders need to continuously find ways to check in on their employees about how they are feeling regarding their workload, new work environment, as well as their work-life balance. By listening to your employee’s concerns and showing empathy, you can help them to find solutions to these issues, thus avoiding burnout, and leading your team to greater potential and success.

Use Technology to Help Your Team Stay Connected

Mercedes Austin, Founder Mercury Mosaics

A team approach was driving my focus to sharing leadership responsibilities. Microsoft Teams was an easy setup for us. Additionally, we got everyone a company email address. This made us feel together, and being able to have specific cohorts within Teams created ways for smaller units to collaborate remotely. We can use these pieces to align, whether we’re all under one roof or expanded and scattered into new locations. These simple tools helped make a very real connection between remote and on-site employees possible.

Hold Company-Wide Meetings

Sheryl Seitz, Vice President of Marketing and Communications Plus One Robotics

We have two standing, companywide “syncs.” Every Wednesday, we have a 15-minute sync designed to review and update the team on priority items. Every other Friday, we have a “demo day” where different teams show what they’ve been working on, followed by a company virtual happy hour. During Covid, we were a video-on company, which meant that many of us kept our cameras on to promote a feeling of co-working.

Leading a successful, high-performing hybrid small team is all about creating a work environment where your team members feel valued, whether they work in-office or remotely. Leaders must provide clear communication, emphasize inclusion, and be there to support their team members.