Before I go on, let’s define what I mean by a hybrid team. A hybrid team is a group of individuals who work on interdependent tasks and who share responsibility for outcomes, and in which some team members work in the same location and other members work remotely. Members can choose when and where they work to suit their personal and professional responsibilities and preferences.
We’ve already had a taste of working in hybrid teams, thanks to the pandemic. Your office may have reduced physical capacity thanks to social distancing, meaning your whole team may not be there at the same time. People are working different hours, different days and in different locations. The general feeling is that this will become our new normal. Hybrid teams will be a permanent part of our workforce.
This change has huge implications for HR.
- What policies do you need to develop to support hybrid teams?
- How will you maintain the company culture?
- How will you ensure quality client service?
- What technology do you need to introduce or support people to use from home?
- Which roles or tasks cannot be performed remotely?
- How will you manage inclusion at team and organisational levels?
- How will you ensure equal opportunity for everyone no matter their schedule or location?
- How will you prevent an ‘us and them’ attitude from developing between the onsite and remote workers?
Above all, how will this change the face of HR?
If they hadn’t before, companies now realise how much impact the people side of their business has on their bottom line. Where once HR was regarded as useful for recruiting, training, and managing the entitlements of employees, now they are being looked to for expertise in nurturing and developing a safe and supportive employee experience. Not to mention as experts in pandemic compliance and sadly, letting highly talented people go. I think there has been a shift in the perception of HR’s intrinsic value in everything they contribute between employee onboarding and offboarding – things like inclusion, diversity, equal opportunity, and personal and professional development.
Companies are going to expect more from their leaders and from HR.
These are just a few of the changes I expect to see.
Increased focus on skilling leaders to support their local and virtual teams. Leaders play a critical role in keeping their teams functioning so their skillset will need to be upgraded and maintained.
Changed training delivery: information delivered in a variety of formats and in small chunks so it can be accessed by everyone, no matter the quality of their internet speed and connection. Small amounts of information are easily digestible and can be applied immediately. Your current training programs may need to be redesigned to meet the new delivery demand.
Working more closely with team leaders: Consulting with and supporting team leaders will be vital not only in helping them with their role, but for gathering data about how the teams are managing and operating and identifying training needs.
Become more proactive: HR won’t be “office based” any longer. It’s quite possible you’ll sometimes be needed where the remote workers are based. The HR team, particularly with regard to employee health and wellbeing, might have to do home visits. You’ll be supporting people wherever they need you.
Develop skills in data collection and analysis: Identifying skills gaps in teams and across the organisation will be an integral part of your role. You’ll need to change the way you measure skills and results so you can be proactive in filling those gaps.
Know your critical employees/teams: Some companies have been surprised to find their critical employees aren’t always the highly paid people. Internal support service teams have long been overlooked but now they are realising that a company can’t function without them. Your role will be to analyse the structure of the company, identify the critical teams and functions, and ensure they are supported.
Measure and improve employee engagement: This will be a challenge for every company in the future. When team members are spread around the globe, keeping them engaged won’t be easy.
Change the culture: HR can’t do this alone but may be the driver for change. If hybrid teams are the way of the future, company culture will need to change with it. There will be changes in the way we see connection and communication, changes in expectation of ourselves and each other, and changes in our attitude to remote staff as opposed to local. The policies around EEO, inclusion, diversity, mental health, recruitment, and promotion – every point of human contact – will need to be updated and embedded.
This will be a challenging time for HR but what am opportunity you have right now to shape the company into a responsive and supportive place to work.
Are you in HR? What challenges do you see ahead of you and how will you manage them?
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