Hybrid Leadership: How to lead at a Distance

Teams rarely meet together in the office anymore – instead, employees are working from home, at work or remotely. Hybrid leadership presents managers and their teams with completely new challenges. We explain what is important.

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What is hybrid leadership?

Combining physical presence and remote work – that is the task of hybrid leadership. A leadership style that has become indispensable in the modern working world, as it is not uncommon for company employees to be spread across many cities or even countries. 

The challenges of hybrid teams

One of the biggest challenges facing hybrid teams is communication. A sensible technical infrastructure is needed to bring together team members who are present in the office and those working remotely. What’s more, some people prefer to communicate “in person”, while others prefer virtual communication. This can lead to difficulties within the team – and create communication barriers.

Even in the office, coordinating collaboration is not easy. The whole thing becomes even more difficult with hybrid teams. The main problem is that there are often fault lines between employees in the office and those working from home. Colleagues who are not physically present are then quickly left out of the loop when it comes to joint decisions – sometimes they are no longer thought of at all.

Building and maintaining social relationships is not only important in private life. Cohesion is also important for professional development in the workplace. Hybrid teams often face a major challenge here. There is a risk that more dominant groups will feel a stronger sense of belonging to the team, while others lose touch with social structures. The latter are then quicker to look for other jobs. 

Creativity cannot be planned. In hybrid working, however, spontaneous conversations and flashes of inspiration are inevitably lost – and with them the potential for collective creativity. But individual creativity also suffers in the long term from constant isolation in the home office. 

The corporate culture is not only crucial for the success of a team – it also has a significant influence on the chances of success in the competition for young talent. The problem: hybrid teams sometimes find it difficult to really internalize their own corporate culture – and to communicate it to the outside world.  What’s more, those who don’t feel they belong are also quicker to leave the workplace. 

The advantages of hybrid leadership

However, if hybrid leadership is successful, the modern working model also has a number of advantages.

Flexibility: All team members decide for themselves when and where they work. This not only enables a flexible daily routine, but also promotes work-life balance. 

Productivity: The newly gained flexibility not only makes people happier, but also promotes the productivity of team members according to several studies by the International Labor Organization. 

Diversity: Hybrid working is not limited to one location. Managers can hire employees from different countries, cultures and life situations. This promotes diversity within the company.

What do hybrid managers need to be able to do? 

Hybrid leaders must be able to inspire. They set goals, develop visions and give their teams a sense of purpose. The balance between hard and soft skills is then crucial. An inspiring leader must not only master their area of expertise, but also be empathetic and express affection and appreciation. They build on the collective strength of the team. 

Empathy is also essential, especially in a hybrid work environment. Managers must also take care of employees who are not physically present and respond to individual needs. This is no easy task, especially in “dispersed” teams.

There is still a misconception that “real” work only works in the office. A hybrid manager must counteract this and ensure that every employee has the same opportunities for further development – regardless of where they work from. This is the only way to create an inclusive working environment. 

Motivation is crucial for the success of a team. As a hybrid manager, you must be able to motivate your team in the long term – across office boundaries. 

In our fast-paced world, a sense of belonging to a company is more important than ever. Managers must set a good example here and exemplify appropriate corporate values. This can also create a strong sense of belonging in a virtual environment. 

It has been clear since the pandemic at the latest that the hybrid working world will quickly become chaotic if clear rules and structures are not established. Managers need to be well organized, prioritize tasks and give employees a clear sense of their roles and goals. In this way, hybrid teams with different ways of working can also be managed with confidence.

Strategies for hybrid teams 

For hybrid collaboration to succeed optimally, you need more than just the right mindset – you need strategies that make day-to-day work easier. 

Strengthen trust

It is not always easy to trust employees working from home as much as colleagues in the office. However, the key here is to give your team members the benefit of the doubt. This is the only way they can develop freely and find their way around the hybrid working day. A nice side effect: tangible trust is motivating.

Designing meetings

Everyone knows them: Meetings that could have been a simple email. Such “zero appointments” not only take up valuable time, they also weigh on the mind. Managers should therefore make sure that only necessary hybrid meetings are held – and that these are well-structured. 

Clear rules

To avoid misunderstandings and annoyance, you as a manager should define the rules of hybrid working from the outset: Are there core working hours? What is the preferred communication tool? Are there attendance days in the office? Establish these rules together with your team – and make sure that the agreements are adhered to by everyone.

Give up control

Trust is an important component of hybrid work. Avoid constant checks, only the result is important. Strengthen the personal responsibility of your employees instead of constantly looking over their shoulders. 

Using communication tools

Communication tools make working in hybrid teams much easier. On the one hand, it is precisely defined where and how communication takes place, and on the other, no important data and documents are lost. Important data protection is also much better ensured in such tools than in a wild mix of different messaging services. 

The most popular communication tools: 

Using collaboration tools

Collaboration tools are incredibly valuable for hybrid teams, especially in the project area. All project participants can store important documents, data and progress here – and also communicate on a project-related basis. Every authorized person has access to all important documents at any time and from anywhere. This means that all employees are always up to date – no matter where they are working from. 

The most popular collaboration tools: 

 

triangility: Navigate the new world of work

At triangility, we accompany you into a digital and sustainable future. With us, you will learn the principles, skills and tools for managers in the hybrid working world – and beyond. Whether in workshops or individual training sessions – together with triangility, you will reach your full potential as a manager.

Book your free initial consultation now!

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Leading remotely and managing the hybrid workplace

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