“Despite the advancement of technology, differences in time and place still become the things that hinder the communication between team members.”
Best of both worlds
Team collaboration and communication technology continue to improve from time to time, and a hybrid team member that includes internal or office-bound team and the remote team has its challenges to perform collaboration, especially on building interaction and communication.
Hybrid/distributed team nowadays has become a beneficiary thing for the workers:
- Employees can skip commute time on road
- Employees can also avoid having to move out from the current place to live near the office
- Have more flexibility in setting their time management between professional and personal matters.
Employers utilize these benefits to attract the best talent regardless of where they live or what any other considerations that they have to think if those talents have to be office-bound. Eventually, the team composed of internal and remote members, which is called hybrid teams.
Distributed team challenges
With all those benefits and easiness, comes also the challenges, especially in making communication between all the team members to be as effective as possible.
First of all, in terms of social interaction, it would be not an easy part for the remote team members to be connected with the social aspects of working in an office. Little interaction around the pantry will be one thing that they will miss.
when it comes to the conference video call, the side conversations, or inside jokes between internal team will make remote team members feel left out that will likely reduce morale and hinder the remote team to be more valuable to the team that would limit the opportunities to grow.
Different time zone
This one is included as the consideration because some remote team members can be all the way from another side of the world with different time zone to 18-hours different or so. It would be inconvenient when the team set a conference video call at 3 pm and one or several team members have to be awake at 3 am from their place.
An audio quality that is not quite ideal due to internet connection differences between regions, and other technical problem that does not exist in an in-room direct meeting.
Rules of Distributed Team
There are several rules that you can follow in order to minimize or overcome these challenges in your hybrid/distributed team:
1. Make sure that everyone is present on a video call
As what have we mentioned before, remote team members can feel left out when the internal members talking about things that happened in the office. Everyone should connect themselves to everyone in the video. Activate your empathy by discussing matters that everyone in the video call can join in. Mingle with the remote team member and build a conversation with them to make them feel included in the team. It will create a better dynamic to the team once everyone can walk altogether.
2. Avoid impromptu direction
Every task given to the remote team member has to be by the consideration of everyone in the team. If the internal members are constantly making decisions themselves and then passing the information onto the remote team members, then decisions are not based on the input and experience of all team members. This is only going to make remote team members feel left out.
3. Get used to asynchronous communication
The team has to embrace the asynchronous communication if some members work during different hours. The remote team member cannot be expected to reply messages immediately or having synchronous conversations, except during scheduled meetings. To solve this, the team has to avoid last minute decision and keep every meeting to always be scheduled to eliminate impromptu decisions that do not include everyone’s acknowledgement.
This thing is not at all negative. The first reason for remote working itself is to be flexible in doing the task when it’s most convenient for them. This asynchronous communication can be helpful for the internal team as well. For instance, some may prefer to work very early in the morning because that’s when they feel more productive, or perhaps even put some hours in late at night after they put the kids to sleep. It will help the members to maintain their focus and encourage more autonomy to them that can help in motivating them and keeping their morale high.
4. Socializing beyond your office
To engage the remote team member, you can schedule a time for socializing and do a quick and casual online chat with them to discuss things. In meetings as well, the internal team can help out the remote team to give them the floor to voice out their opinions or questions. Having some time where the team can come together is very valuable to help keep the team in sync and focused towards a particular goal. It can reconnect members with other members they don’t usually work within their day to day which can also open more opportunities to the betterment.
Communication is the most important matters in the workplace. Even if the members have a different time zone or place, it is possible because communication technologies are supportive nowadays. What matter is depending on how you set the rules to make the communication effective.
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Drop Source. (2017, November 09). Communication in Hybrid Teams | Dropsource - Visually Build Native Mobile Apps. Retrieved from https://www.dropsource.com/blog/communication-in-hybrid-teams/
Remote Work Hub. (2019, May 08). Rules For Managing a Hybrid Team of Remote and In-Office Workers. Retrieved from https://remoteworkhub.com/rules-managing-hybrid-team-remote-office-workers/
Tyson, M. (2015, January 19). Building Hybrid Teams. Retrieved from https://www.infoq.com/articles/build-hybrid-teams/