If there’s one universal truth that leaders can agree on, it’s that the new way of working is here to stay. Employees have shifted their expectations after the world was forced inward during the COVID-19 pandemic. Now they’re increasingly a hybrid team equipped with secure internet connections, tools, capabilities, and efficiencies that make remote and hybrid work possible.
Considering the abruptness of the transformation, however, the art of team building and collaboration has been lagging behind.
But this initial stumble doesn’t mean it has to be a long-term struggle. There are achievable ways to help your hybrid team stay connected that will set them, and your organization, up for success.
1. Use collaboration tools to improve workflows and relationships.
Workplace collaboration tools are practically a given these days, but some companies have barely scratched the surface of their capabilities.
Beyond calendar functionality and chat channels, high-performing tools provide project management features, file sharing, and more.
Team leads can assign tasks, plot Gantt charts, and share works in progress all in one place. This centralized collaboration hub can improve efficiency and facilitate conversations akin to in-person chats.
For example, peers can share draft project requirements and track changes to ensure tired eyes don’t miss a detail. By reducing friction, these tools make staying connected easy, even when team members are physically apart.
Encourage both workflow management and social conversations, dedicating specific space for each.
Start a social chat thread where colleagues can celebrate milestones, discuss pop culture, and have fun. These threads can provide a much-needed brain break from hyper-focused work and facilitate connections beyond tasks and deadlines.
Some teams even cite improved productivity when working a hybrid schedule, reserving remote days for focused work. Colleagues who prefer this approach can clearly define this boundary, which often results in them performing at their best. Brainstorming sessions, Kanban boarding, and other high-touch activities can take priority when teams are in person, maximizing effectiveness and creativity.
2. Foster team camaraderie.
Forced fun isn’t the prescription for creating well-connected and cohesive teams. However, creating space for relationships to develop naturally is.
Authentic connections take time, so focus your efforts on facilitating opportunities versus requiring team-building activities.
Time, proximity, and shared experiences are the elements needed for building authentic relationships. At work and off the clock, this formula creates a bond, be it from a high-pressure assignment successfully achieved or a fun after-hours outing. It’s the shared experience that enriches the human connection.
If your workplace policies and workload allow, consider launching a service initiative with your team.
Identify an organization related to your type of work or close to your office location that your entire team can support. Carve out space during an in-office day to get out and do something good together. Whether you’re making care packages, beautifying a neighborhood, or repairing a house, these initiatives create a shared sense of purpose.
Beyond the typical work your team does on the clock, these opportunities often provide surprising ways to collaborate. Team members will be able to reflect on ways they supported each other during your service project. And these unique bonds can enhance the ways they’re able to connect when physically apart.
3. Create a strong organizational culture.
Company culture and branding can easily become corporate buzzwords that miss the mark. However, organizations with strong cultures know that aligning their purpose with what they say and do makes all the difference. On your team, focus on the “why” of what you do, even if your daily tasks seem mundane.
Back-end developers are often the backbone of many organizations, as tech drives so many internal and customer-facing functions. Aim to articulate how your team’s work matters, whether it’s keeping systems secure or improving functionality. These actions aren’t necessarily glamorous, but they do influence customer satisfaction and can support sales and retention efforts.
Use your company’s purpose to develop shared values that you live out daily. Integrate the language you’ve identified into your standard processes, benchmarking performance and project success against your core principles. Keeping your why at the forefront can help bridge the gap between digital and physical workspaces.
Reinforce your company message and purpose by creating branded backgrounds, email signatures, and company swag. Even for organizations with small budgets, providing relevant take-homes for employees can help them feel appreciated and connected.
Consider creating laptop stickers featuring your values statement, a culture reminder that’s visible even on remote days. Welcome teams back into the office with strong internal branding and signage that supports your culture initiative at every turn.
Adopting New Ways of Working Is Essential for Organizational Success
The world has changed, and today’s recruiting landscape is proof that employees want more out of their work experience.
Aside from the essential compensation and benefits package, flexibility is top of mind for many workers. But offering the ability to work remotely all or some of the time isn’t enough. Top employers must ensure that work location doesn’t damage the human experience.
Prioritize connectivity across your organization, even if remote work days outnumber in-office ones. When you keep the human element of your business at the forefront, you’ll boast more than a high-performing hybrid team. You’ll soon become known as an employer that gets remote work right, and top talent will be ready to join in.