Reducing Tensions in Partly-Virtual Teams
Many of us have hybrid-team, some working in the office, some teleworking or otherwise in the field. One of the most common challenges for leaders in these teams is ensuring that the remote team members feel included and productive, while reducing the resentment that the office workers sometimes have for their virtual peers. Here are some of the most common causes of tension within these mixed groups:
Remote Workers Feel Like Second Class Citizens
By virtue of the fact that they are not there, they miss all the fun, challenges, gossip and important news. And mostly be on conference calls or meetings at ungodly hours.
Home Team Faces all the Difficulty
This is actually a growing problem, that’s seldom spoken out loud. Simple things like fixed timelines, travel, traffic, dress code, constant interruptions, facing the brunt face to face, getting the lousiest assignments, etc.
As usual, there is a mix of accurate and completely insane perceptions at work. The leader should be able to identify potential problems and address them before things get ugly. Here are some pointers to avoid or resolve this problem:
- Try to include everyone, even if it means holding a web meeting or conference call for everybody at the same time to make an announcement or pass on any company information. The perception of always being the last to know can hurt.
- It is true that some tasks can only be done by someone with physical access to the building, files, or resources. It’s also true that sometimes it is assigned to the first person in sight. Deliberate assigning before delegating any task. It should be according to a person’s ability not accessibility.
- Sometimes there may be a false perception that those who don’t come in to the office every day escape these extra duties. It happens often with one on one conversation, so let the team know when a task has been assigned to someone else. The perception of fairness is actually more important than actually being fair.
When holding a conference call on speaker, try actively soliciting input from the remote people before taking comments from the room. It’s too easy to have the home team dominate the conversation, and the remote members think of themselves as excluded, even if that’s not the intent.
Hybrid teams are becoming the norm today, and a wise leader is aware of the unique dynamics that can make them work (getting the best from everyone, in real time, no matter where they are) as well as what can derail your efforts.