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Hybrid teams - is it the new normal?

The number one topic of 2021 is hybrid teams.


I was speaking to an old friend last week who is the CEO of a Tech Start-Up, we discussed new ideas and plans for office spaces, hybrid teams and the future of the workplace. Their business is based in Melbourne and experienced the full impact of COVID like many parts of Australia. They let go of their office space in March last year, luckily having their lease up for negotiation at that time. They are only now coming back together, but instead of an office of their own, they are using a shared workspace for their team of 14, leasing 8 chairs a day. They are currently working through how they will collaborate, connect and work in this new world.

Man working remotely on couch in city

In this conversation with the CEO, the topic of discussion was office spaces, hybrid teams and how work happens, and how to support productive, high-performing, hybrid teams. Getting the balance right in terms of paying for office space, when it is empty, but also allowing space and time for face-to-face collaboration can be a juggle. It is about getting the balance right. On one hand, you have to consider overhead expenses for a half-empty office space and on the other, you need to provide the right space and allocate time for face-to-face collaboration.


So, how do you create a high-performing culture when not everyone is in the office?

With some team members working face to face and others set up remotely, it can be a challenge to engage the team equally and ensure that there is visibility, and everyone is productive. So, how do you get your team collaborating? We know that the benefits help people learn and grow, solve problems as well as innovate.


Can you still drive forward collectively when they don’t see each other all the time?


A recent HBR article cited that we are “seeing a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reset work using a hybrid model—one that, if we can get it right, will allow us to make our work lives more purposeful, productive, agile, and flexible.” So, this sounds like a win-win, right? However, there is a bit of work to get done to get this right.


Women working remotely from cafe with coffee

Culture

As the old saying goes, culture eats strategy for breakfast. The companies that had already focused on culture were able to adapt and fall back on their values when times get tough.


One of my clients JVAT is a great example of this, they grew 50% through COVID-19 which is a testament to their leadership and culture through challenging times. They had the opposite problem where most if not all of the team wanted to come back into the office, they had to implement a roster system to meet the sq metre restrictions imposed in Melbourne.