The Ultimate Guide for Successful Hybrid Teams: How to Build Strong Team Relationships

The Ultimate Guide for Successful Hybrid Teams: How to Build Strong Team Relationships

 Betsy Blog (1)Betsy Scherer

Here at Venture Lane, we believe the future is hybrid. What exactly do we mean by hybrid? Think: a co-located team where some folks are working full-time in an office, some are working full-time at home, and some are mixing it up and alternating between home and office. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way we work forever. Because of this, Venture Lane has created a blog series to help early-stage B2B tech startups navigate the hybrid terrain as we figure out the 'new normal' together.

RELATED: Download our COVID-19 Playbook

How to build strong team relationships in a hybrid world...

Strong social relationships across your team are imperative for a healthy and solid company culture. Unfortunately, this is one of the top issues facing hybrid and remote teams. We've laid out steps to help you build strong team relationships as your team transitions to a hybrid approach. Today, we'll cover:

  1. How to increase employee engagement...
  2. How to safely and successfully gather in person...
  3. How to creatively gather via the interwebs...
  4. How to create an inclusive hybrid workspace...

What are we waiting for?! Let's get started!  

How to increase employee engagement...

  • Practice consistency with employee check-ins. Weekly one-on-ones are more important than ever. Leadership will find that developing their employees for both hybrid and remote teams will be harder than ever.
    • We recommend implementing a 3-to-1 approach: once a month, focus on upwards feedback and three times a month, focus on direct employee feedback.
  • Prioritize mental health. Does your team feel comfortable talking openly about how they're feeling? If not, how can you lead by example and create an open and welcoming environment? Company culture starts from the top - it's important to be emotionally honest!
  • Celebrate (big and small) wins together. Create a specific Slack channel for celebrating each other's accomplishments. Ask that your team shout their peers out as well as celebrate themselves. 
  • Create dedicated Slack channels for 'fun.' Fostering hybrid relationships takes time and effort and Slack water cooler channels are a great place to have a little fun together. 
    • Dedicated water cooler channels can take many approaches and the options are endless: pets channel, home renovation channel, a fitness channel, a cooking channel, a 'what did you do this weekend' channel, etc.!

RELATED: How to Prevent 'Us Versus Them' Culture for Hybrid Teams

How to safely and successfully gather in-person...

  • Let your team know it's okay to see each other. People are desperate for in-person connections.  As a team leader, it's important to set the precedent and make sure folks know its okay to have a socially distanced, safe meetup.
  • Plan outdoor social activities. If you're just starting out with in-person socials, take it slow (baby steps!) and keep it outdoors. We recommend:
    • Park hangouts
    • Hiking or biking
    • Board game nights
    • Coffee walks
    • Beer gardens
  • Always comply with the latest safety regulations. If you're socializing in-person as a team, ensure all team members are on the same page and check the boxes together. In a pre-vaccine world, make sure you're:
    • Wearing masks! Only exception should be eating and drinking.
    • Socialize but make it distanced - stay 6 feet from others.
    • Whenever possible, schedule activities for outdoors. 
    • Come prepared with hand sanitizer.
  • Have honest and candid conversations beforehand. It's best to get the awkwardness out of the way and lay it all out on the table. Everyone is coming from different perspectives these days and it's important to make sure folks are on the same page.
    • Ask your team: What makes you feel comfortable? What makes you feel uncomfortable?
  • Bring the team together for special meetings and offsites. A little bit of in-person interaction goes a long way in building connection. Quarterly planning is a great time to come together: if your team is primarily based in one city, ask the team to come in for a day. Plan a group dinner (takeout totally works!) to cap off the busy day.

How to creatively gather via the interwebs...

  • Zoom fatigue is real. Zoom happy hours start to feel old. Get creative, switch it up and keep the virtual socials fresh. We love these ideas: 
    • Virtual coffee chats, try assigning coffee chats to team members who don't generally interact
    • Remote book clubs but make it tech. Looking for a techy option? Perhaps Ellen Pao's Reset would interest the group?
    • Virtual trivia nights via Kahoot; level up by hosting trivia nights for your employee's birthdays
    • Airbnb experiences for a little escape from our living rooms
    • Skill sharing; do you have team members with interesting hobbies? Ask them to host a how-to class. You never know if you have an expert chef, artist, or mixologist in your midst!
    • Netflix Party for a group movie night
  • Give agency to your entire team to organize social activities. Ask your team to create their own social events and advertise their events in slack.
  • Take responsibility. As a leader of your team, it's ultimately up to you to actively prioritize building strong bonds on your team.
  • Encourage folks to RSVP. For virtual and in-person get togethers, it's best practice to ask the team to RSVP to help gauge interest. 

RELATED: How Hybrid Teams Should Manage the Physical Workspace

How to create an inclusive hybrid workplace...

  • Pay close attention to new hires and fully remote employees. These are your two most vulnerable types of employees right now and require extra nurturing.
    • As an example, if you're planning an in-person distanced park gathering, include the fully remote employees on the invite even if you know they won't attend.  
  • Utilize the buddy system. If you've been following along, you'll know we're huge proponents for the buddy system. Assign each new hire a buddy [think: a seasoned member of the team]. Ask that they check-in with one another monthly. Even better, assign cross-team buddies. Who knows? This could help with cross-team problem solving and collaboration down the road!

Interested in implementing a hybrid team? Learn more about Venture Lane's new membership offering and pricing.