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Strategist Lital Marom on Optimizing Hybrid Teams for High Performance

Strategist Lital Marom on Optimizing Hybrid Teams for High Performance

The traditional in-person work model is pre-pandemic thinking — outdated and unsustainable in today’s hybrid world. The pandemic has only accelerated the trend towards remote work, and businesses need a new work model to future-proof their organizations; one that helps their teams thrive no matter where they are.

In a recent article for Forbes, innovation strategist Lital Marom shared tips to help businesses optimize a hybrid work model and build high performing teams, both in and out of the office. Here’s what she suggests:

1. Step Up Your Digital Game

Digital transformation is the name of the game in this new hybrid working world. This means acquainting yourself with the latest digital tools to create the right hybrid scenarios for your team and collecting data to create helpful insight and measure your progress. Collaboration tools are also critical to keeping up with ongoing goals for digital savviness, diversity, and inclusion in your work culture. Importantly, these tools need not take a bite out of your budget. You simply have to school yourself on what digital and collaboration tools are out there and relevant to your workforce.

2. Pay Close Attention to Your Employees’ Needs and Requests

Employees are obviously a big part of the mix for any company designing a hybrid work plan. Their input is a necessity. As a recent Harvard Business Review article explained, the typical hybrid schedule of three days in the office and two days at home “covers place, but companies need to start paying more attention to process and, most important, people.”

It’s up to managers to determine their employees’ motivations by, say, asking staff what their career goals are, what makes them feel valued, what they would like to spend less time doing, and what tools they believe they need to work smarter. As for the personal needs of those employees, managers might ask whether they feel they’re most productive opening up their laptops at their local Starbucks, at home, or in the office, and what work schedules lend the most support. Again, thinking about tools is a must and regular discussions about what’s working are key.

3. Keep Work Asynchronous, at Least at First

Ask yourself, what is the exact value of always using in-person meetings? Then, consider taking an asynchronous approach, at least at first.

Think about the typical in-person meeting, where employees stare off into space and others secretly look at their phones. An antidote to this problem is to bake critical thinking into your meetings. For example, a leader could present their strategy to the group and let attendees know ahead of time there will be small discussion groups afterward (easy to do on Zoom!). Not only does this require active listening, but it inspires discussion and potentially new insights.

You can also look to pioneers like DropBox. DropBox announced in October 2020 that it was moving to a 100% remote workforce and published a “Virtual First Toolkit.” DropBox also published a language guide advising employees to decline meeting invitations politely and suggest asynchronous alternatives.

4. Hold Everyone Accountable

This is a no-brainer but deserves to be repeated: Keep your team members accountable, not only to their managers but to one another. That’s the very meaning of team: employees acting in their colleagues’ best interests, not just their own, to create shared success.

Two approaches — agile and sprints — can help foster accountability and give your team a framework for staying on task. Both methods help teams collaborate in a hybrid world effectively.

“Agile” is a well-known method in project management and software development. The software development industry often works in cross-functional teams, and as a result, asynchronous teams can learn a lot from this. Think “agile” systems in which tasks are divided into small phases. Work is continually assessed and adapted based on the workflow. Rather than focus on when or how teams are working, an agile approach allows team members to work on the project whenever and however, as long as the work is completed by the deadline. It requires teams to define project goals in writing, allowing members of remote teams to review the project at any time. It reduces the need for control of the manager in charge and enables teams to work on their own time, hopefully inspiring more creativity.

Another method often used in the software world that we can borrow here is “sprints.” In sprints, teams are given a specific amount of time for each task. This helps keep work on track and avoid wasted time.

5. Don’t Forget Balance is Needed

There needs to be a balance between people working collaboratively and on their own. Periodically, let individual brains marinate individual ideas before the team assembles again. Optimal collaboration requires at least some “alone time.”

As the founder and president of the consultancy UNFOLD, Lital Marom works closely with leading global brands to drive digital transformation through the integration of new business models. An in-demand keynote speaker, her engaging and practical talks focus on innovation, digital disruption, future of work, leadership in the 21st century, and more.

Contact us to learn what Lital can bring to your next event.

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