What Is a Hybrid Team and How to Manage One

Hybrid teams are an emerging trend following the pandemic and remote work. This newly found combination of hustling at the office and remote work has left many managers worried about whether this work style has any future. Managing remote teams is becoming a challenge, but many people don’t understand what hybrid teams are, and how they function in the first place. This article delves into the definition of hybrid teams and offers actionable tips on how to manage them.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hybrid teams are a relatively new workforce model that allows employees to work both from the office and a remote location.
  • It was popularized during the COVID-19 pandemic and aims to boost both work-life balance and productivity.
  • There are several types of hybrid work models such as remote-first, office-first, split-week and others.
  • Managing a hybrid team can be challenging for managers, especially if they’re obliged to work from the office, but utilizing a project management tool like Kanban can help.

What is a Hybrid Team?

A hybrid team is a workforce model that combines remote and in-office employees. Both of these groups work together towards common goals within an organization.

By utilizing this model, employees can work both from the office and remotely, depending on which option is more suitable for their individual needs.

Depending on the organizational culture, employees working in hybrid teams may be required to come to the office for two or three days and spend the remaining days of the week working from home or some other remote location.

The hybrid team offers flexibility and versatility. It helps in accommodating individual preferences and circumstances while maintaining the benefits of face-to-face interactions and collaboration when needed.

Its success relies on effective communication, robust digital infrastructure, and adaptable management strategies to ensure all members, regardless of their location, are integrated, productive, and engaged in the team’s objectives.

How Does a Hybrid Team Work?

Hybrid teams are a relatively new working model that blends both traditional in-office work with remote work. Inspired by technological advancements and changing work-life balance priorities, they emerged significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This model offers the best of both worlds: face-to-face interaction for creativity and team bonding, alongside the autonomy and reduced commute times of remote work, catering to diverse employee needs and preferences.

Benefits of Hybrid Teams

If you choose to introduce a hybrid workstyle to your team, here are the benefits that you should know about.

  • Flexibility. Employees have more control over their workflow optimization, work environment, and schedule.
  • Work-life balance. Improved flexibility and versatility in hybrid teams can help employees with families and hectic private lives, ultimately improving their work-life balance.
  • Increased productivity. Many employees find it more productive to work at home, without losing time commuting if they live far away from the office. Working from home also helps isolate you from distractions and interruptions. Employees can also focus on a personalized setting that feels familiar and comforting.
  • Cost savings. Working remotely a few days a week can help reduce commuting costs, lunch expenses, and wardrobe expenditures. Hybrid teams reduce the need for large office spaces, which ensures additional cost savings.
  • Broader talent pool. Companies can tap into a wider talent pool that is not limited by geographical boundaries. This means more diverse teams in terms of skills, perspectives, and cultural backgrounds.
  • Improved employee satisfaction. Working with hybrid teams could help improve employee satisfaction and retention. This work model ensures autonomy and flexibility which many employees value.
  • Environmental benefits. Reduced commuting and the need for large office spaces help contribute to lower carbon footprint and emissions.
  • Enhanced collaboration and communication. Hybrid teams rely on digital communication and collaboration tools like the digital Kanban board that Kanban Zone provides. This helps develop stronger digital communication skills, more structured and efficient meetings, and a greater emphasis on clear and concise information sharing.

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Types of Hybrid Teams

Hybrid teams come in different forms. This section discusses the most popular types of hybrid teams.

1. Office-First Model

Many businesses that want to introduce a hybrid working model start with the office-first model, as it’s closely reminiscent of traditional work settings. This model requires most employee hours to be spent at the office.  

This enhances interdepartmental collaboration and in-person communication, fostering innovation and a strong connection to workplace culture.

Still, it’s worth noting that this is the least desirable work model. For some employees who don’t require a high level of collaboration, this working model can be overwhelming and expensive, as it could result in increased commute costs and potential dissatisfaction due to a lack of flexibility.

2. Flexible Hybrid Work Model

With flexible work models, employees can decide for themselves where they want to work. That way, they could balance the on-site and remote work according to their preferences.

This model builds trust and improves morale because the employees can work from where they feel comfortable, without sacrificing their work performance. Another thing is that it can attract more job-seekers due to its flexibility.

Still, even though this model is good for cutting commuting costs and helps enhance employee engagement, it can also lead to decreased performance, team silos, and underutilized office spaces.

3. Remote-First Model

Like its name suggests, this model focuses on remote work first and lets employees choose where they’ll work primarily. In this model, only a few people who are required to do so will work from the office while the remaining members of the team will work remotely.

While this model promotes versatility and flexibility, it may be challenging to implement in practice when some tasks require the team to meet in person.

4. The Split-Week Model

This model involves assigning specific days for on-site and remote work. That way the teams can experience both work environments and work dynamically.

Hybrid teams that adopt this approach can communicate openly while avoiding overcrowding in offices. Still, it’s not without its downsides. The Split-Week model can also lead to increased operational costs, inconsistent team presence in the office, and potentially higher commuting expenses for employees.

5. Week-by-Week Model

Week-by-Week model is ideal for employees who want to alternate between in-person and remote work every week. Some companies prefer introducing this model because it helps gain momentum in the organization.

That being said, you’ll likely see this model implemented in larger organizations, which allows for downsized office spaces and improved predictability in scheduling.

Unfortunately, it can easily create silos within teams and can be less effective for roles that are self-managed. Another scenario where these teams aren’t as effective in situations when teams need to address unplanned events that occur chaotically and out of schedule.

How to Manage Hybrid Teams?

If you’re a manager of a remote or a hybrid team, you should know that managing them requires a nuanced and modern approach.

Visual project management and collaboration tools like Kanban boards are important for reaching these goals. Here’s how to manage hybrid teams through visual and interactive collaboration environments.

1. Establish Clear Visual Cues

Visual cues on a Kanban board, such as different colors for tags, priority indicators, and progress bars, help team members quickly understand task statuses, priorities, and dependencies.

In a hybrid environment, this level of clarity is essential, because team members may not have the chance to discuss tasks in person.

2. Affirm Core Cultural Values

You’ll need to discuss new norms and protocols within your team and build habits that affirm core cultural values.

Agree on communication standards, including who should be included in messages and which platforms to use for different types of communication.

Also, you’ll need to agree on a work schedule that will work with your entire team and won’t hinder productivity and other responsibilities that your employees face.

3. Flexible Prioritization

If you’re going to work in a hybrid team, you need to prioritize tasks and responsibilities with flexibility in mind. Managers should be able to adjust the order of tasks or projects based on changing circumstances, new information, or evolving goals.

It’s a dynamic approach that allows teams and individuals to remain agile and responsive in fast-paced and uncertain environments.

4. Implement Work-in-Progress Limits

Setting work-in-progress (WiP) limits can prevent bottlenecks while making sure that your team members aren’t overwhelmed with the current work scope. WIP limits also allow you to promote a smoother flow of work.

That way, when the issues arise, you will be able to see where they’re coming from and resolve issues promptly and effectively.

5. Use Swimlanes to Segment Work

If you choose a Kanban board to manage your hybrid team, you shouldn’t miss out on managing your work with swim lanes which help segment the work by team, project phase, or priority level.

With this segmentation, your team can have guided task organization, while staying more effective and efficient. This also ensures that all team members are focused on the right priorities at the right time.

6. Encourage Collaboration Through Comments and Tags

A feature-rich Kanban solution like Kanban Zone’s interactive Kanban board allows users to leave comments and tags. They can tag other team members on task cards.

These features should be actively used to maintain productivity at the highest level and improve communication and collaboration. They can also share updates and clarify task requirements, which reduces the need for lengthy meetings or email threads.

7. Regularly Update and Review the Board

If you want to use the Kanban board effectively, you need to keep it up to date. Every time some task or anything else in the sprint changes, you should conduct a review and update the board accordingly. Maintaining this practice will help you reflect on the current state of work.

Hybrid and remote teams benefit from this because their tasks, communication, and collaboration are aligned with the goals for that sprint.

8. Leverage Analytics for Continuous Improvement

Many visual management tools such as Kanban also allow you to make reports that can help you identify trends and measure productivity. With such powerful metrics, your team can pinpoint areas for improvement and improve collaboration.

Make sure to review these metrics regularly, as that can help drive continuous improvement in processes and work outcomes.

Leading with Strategy: Visualize Your Goals with Kanban Zone 

If you’re looking for help in leading your hybrid team, Kanban Zone’s interactive and detailed dashboard and Kanban board can help you with managing both your in-office and remote employees.

Regardless of which type of hybrid team you manage, Kanban Zone can help you do it more effectively, stay focused, and improve your collaboration and productivity. Sign up for Kanban Zone, and supercharge your productivity.

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About the Author: Danica Simic

Danica Simic, Author
Danica Simic is a software and data engineer with great passion towards planning and tech. She started writing to be able to pay for studying but it wasn’t too long before she decided she wanted to work as a full-time tech writer. She’s focused on academic writing and copywriting but also enjoys writing about artificial intelligence, productivity, planning, organization and everything tech. Her hobbies include swimming, reading, drawing and gaming. She also runs a few tech Instagram accounts and offers data & AI consultations to small businesses and data science students.