Hybrid teams: are you asking the right questions?

August 15, 2022

Hybrid working, the question of where we work is still dominating conversations and headlines. As well as this blog, we asked Andy and Jennie (our Head of Design & Research and Manager of Operations) to share their thoughts on teams and hybrid working because we know that listening to a conversation can sometimes help to shine light on a complex subject in a way that the written word sometimes can’t.


Listen to Andy & Jennie share their thoughts on teams and hybrid working below:


Let’s start by taking a step back and reflecting on where we are now. Back in 2020, we flipped to remote working because we had to. Flexible working strategies were put into action overnight. Leaders and their teams did what they had to, to support their people and keep delivering for clients, customers and stakeholders.

Two years on, and the world has changed (and won’t stop changing), but it looks like we’ve dug ourselves into a hole regarding where we work. Despite everything we’ve learned since 2020, it seems to come down to a binary choice of home or office, but it’s not that straightforward, is it?

We know it isn’t that simple because it’s causing tension between individuals, teams and organisations. We don’t believe that jumping to any solution is the answer, whether that’s everyone into the office, stay home or your version of hybrid. Instead, we believe that the answer lies in having an open and honest conversation about effective team working.


How can teams organise themselves for success?

Organisations have a lot to deal with right now, from global economic uncertainty and conflict to more localised and sector-specific challenges. Meanwhile, teams must find good people to fill the talent gap and support growth plans. New projects are appearing on the to-do list. It all points to work feeling like it’s back to ‘normal’. But the question of how teams should organise themselves to deliver still lingers with potential recruits and existing employees asking, ‘Why do I need to go into the office?’.


What do you want to achieve and why?

Research carried out by Squadify and LSE during the lockdown showed that while technology enabled us to stay connected, conversations became far more task oriented. Those open, transformational ‘what if’ conversations disappeared. Remote working also left people feeling isolated, leading to a narrower view of the world and a greater focus on ‘self’.

Equally, a blanket ‘return to the office’ policy feels like it’s too much of a swing in the other direction, with organisations focusing solely on their own agendas. There is a huge opportunity here, though, to explore the team or ‘other’ perspective and have a conversation that focuses on how the team can work effectively together and deliver excellent outcomes for the business.

The first question in our 3Ws framework ‘What do we want to achieve and why?’ is a great way to kickstart an open and honest conversation about the team’s goals and aspirations,  where your team is now, and how it’s going to get there. It’s a great opportunity to start a progressive team conversation that feels much more positive and motivating than a discussion focused on a solution and where people work.


The illusion of teamwork

Why do you want people to come back into the workplace? Is it because performance has dipped, and you think bringing everyone back into the office will help the team perform? How do you know that your team’s location is causing performance issues? Are there more fundamental problems at play, like inclusivity, alignment, safety or trustand how would they be solved by bringing everyone back into the workplace?

Leaders play a crucial role in creating the conditions for team success, the 3Cs framework: clarity, climate and competence. If leaders can facilitate conversations with their teams about what they need to be effective based on these conditions, it will lead to much better discussions and decisions about how they organise themselves. Plus, the results might not be what you expect.


Beware rigid thinking

Curiosity and a willingness to learn underlies all these conversations. While leaders and their teams are embarking on these progressive discussions, organisations must work out how they can flex to accommodate the new learning and behaviour. The alternative is friction, tension and disappointment as teams find themselves pushing against rigid organisational structures and old ways of working that aren’t fit for purpose.


Final thought

Whatever decision you arrive at, use these conversations to be curious, listen and ignite your team so that you can focus on truly effective teamwork.

Contact us to talk about your teams and how to get them performing.



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