Managing the Hybrid Workplace

May 27, 2021
| Posted by
Scott
Stiver

Developing solid, energized sales teams is essential for the growth of a company. Carew International believes that to create stronger teams, each team member should understand their unique communication and performance styles because not every person works the same way or enjoys the same setting. Managers who want their sales teams to prosper need to realize the importance of offering a workplace where valued employees can thrive according to their individual personalities. Couple this with the pandemic's impact on work, and many companies have arrived at the hybrid workplace.

A recent Harvard Business Review article says, "Hybridity promises organizations the benefits of remote working (increased flexibility, reduced carbon footprint, labor-cost optimization, and increased employee satisfaction) alongside the critical strengths of traditional, co-located work (smoother coordination, informal networking, stronger cultural socialization, greater creativity, and face-to-face collaboration)."

A successful leader in the hybrid workplace recognizes and actively manages what HBR calls hybridity positioning and hybridity competence, two distinct sources of power that can impede or accelerate hybrid work.

Hybridity Positioning

At a high level, hybridity positioning means that employees positioned in different locations will have different access to resources and different levels of visibility, both of which are crucial sources of power and influence. For example, an employee working remotely might have a weaker technological setup, or an employee working from the office might have stronger social connections with coworkers through informal water cooler conversations. Further, the location of an employee determines whether they are seen by those in power.

Hybridity Competence

Hybridity competence means that not all individuals are equally skilled at working within a hybrid environment. Maybe you have a sales team member who is less effective at building relationships either in-person or remotely, so they struggle to collaborate with others. Or perhaps someone is less skilled at internally networking and assimilating within a large corporate structure, and they feel out of sync with colleagues and managers.

These differences are inevitable with a hybrid environment, and the first step is to acknowledge that the playing field is no longer level. Then, leaders can take steps to manage the differences in power and the resulting challenges.

3 Strategies for Managers, According to HBR:

  1. Track and communicate. Create an accurate record of your team's configuration. Who is working where and when? Tracking must be ongoing, as situations can change. Additionally, have a conversation with each team member about their (and your) expectations for their work environment or any suspected difficulties that could arise.
  2. Educate. Leadership should actively promote awareness of the power imbalances that evolve from workplace hybridity and educate their team about avoiding bias. HBR stresses the importance of individual/collective trust, meaning employees feel they can speak up and ask for what they need.
  3. Monitor. The authors wrote, "Through our discussions with executives, we've identified a number of key opportunities to address the potential challenges of hybridity for power dynamics within their teams:"
  • Performance reviews and evaluations. Establish metrics and clear goals for team members so you have better insights into their day-to-day work activity.
  • Onboarding. For new hires to start on a comparable foot with your team/organization, make sure to communicate expectations on work hours, work-life integration, and the overall hybrid workplace into your onboarding procedures.

While a hybrid workplace may not be a good fit for all sales teams, it will continue to become a reality for many. This will create unforeseen challenges, and the results will fall on a spectrum. Tracking and communication, educating yourself on signs of power imbalances, and constantly monitoring for changes in your team's needs will allow for a better transition into the new era of work.