The Ultimate Guide for Successful Hybrid Teams: How to Master Asynchronous Communication on Hybrid Teams

The Ultimate Guide for Successful Hybrid Teams: How to Master Asynchronous Communication on Hybrid Teams

 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 master asynchronous communication...

The way we communicate is one of the biggest obstacles for a successful hybrid team launch. When it comes down to it, your team will need to establish strong communication habits for increased collaboration, inclusivity,  and forming a united front. Today, we'll cover:

  1. Why you should create a communication guidebook...
  2. How to master documentation...
  3. How to pivot towards asynchronous communication...
  4. How to master low-context communication...
  5. Why you should create a list of Slack best practices...

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

Why you should create a communication guidebook...

  • Your team is looking for guidance. We've said it before and we'll say it again, creating a rules of the road for your specific hybrid practice will be an invaluable resource for your team. They're looking for guidance and leadership right now and laying it all out in a document is a great place to start. 
    • If you've been following along, you'll know that we've covered creating hybrid guidebooks in a few other posts, too. We think you should cover the following in your guidebook:
      • Your hybrid communication approach
      • Leadership best practices for distributed teams
      • Workspace safety and policies
      • Guiding principals for successful hybrid meetings
  • Set a precedent. If you are adopting an asynchronous communication approach, the rules must be determined and communicated to everyone on your team. Asynchronous communication can be overwhelming: we can't stress enough the importance of establishing structure and context. 

How to master documentation...

  • Document everything! Documentation has never been more important and its key that you take an intentional approach. 
  • Build the habit together. You and your team are developing this new habit together. Set guidelines: ask your team to document any process that is done more than once and get into the habit of writing things down.  
  • Pay attention to file management. File management goes hand-in-hand with strong documentation processes. What is documentation if other folks can't find what they're looking for?! Be intentional. Be organized. Ensure everyone is on the same page regarding where various files live, or should live. 
  • Keep it text based. It's important for hybrid teams to store information in text form versus relying on verbal communication. This helps with efficiency, inclusivity, and a successful asynchronous approach. 
  • Utilize collaboration tools. Creative meetings and brainstorming can be a huge challenge for remote and hybrid teams. If it isn't possible to meet in person, consider using a collaboration tool like Google Docs or use visual design tools like Invision or Mural. Added bonus, the tools will do the documentation for you!

How to pivot towards asynchronous communication...

  • Understand the asynchronous approach. Asynchronous communication encourages documentation, discourages synchronous meetings as the default, and provides greater flexibility for each member to determine the working hours that best suit their lifestyle.
  • If your team spans multiple time zones, set up a "time zone overlap." For example, ask that your employees are online from 1-4pm EST to the best of their abilities. This helps create a shared block of time for meetings, receive timely responses in Slack and help spur relationship building across your team. 
  • Be specific and concise. To successfully nail asynchronous communication, your team will need to create strong habits. Ask them to be cognizant of specificity, providing enough context, and asking direct questions. 
  • Reap the benefits. When implemented correctly, asynchronous communication allows your team to put blocks of time away to actually do their work. It's best to pair with a product management tool like Asana or Trello.

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

How to master low context communication...

  • Understand the difference. Low context communication is direct, generally public, task-based, and transferrable. High context communication is less direct and less explicit, focused on relationships, situational, and it's more sensitive to non-verbals and the feelings of others.
  • Stay away from assumptions. Start by assuming that recipients of your communication don't know anything about the topic but wish to learn as much as possible and as fast as possible.
  • Put yourself in their shoes. Yet again, another habit your team will form as you go hybrid. Highlight the importance of understanding communication from another persons perspective.
  • Know when to switch to video. As a best practice, if you and your team find that you're typing way too much, it's time to switch to either a hybrid meeting or a Loom

RELATED: How Hybrid Teams Should Manage the Physical Workspace

Why you should create a list of Slack best practices...

  • Utilize Slack for documentation. Your team will need to get comfortable asking themselves if a larger audience would benefit from information and documentation. If so, ask them to share information in public Slack channels.
    • Use keywords for better search results.
    • Separate the main core message from additional information for increased readability. Pop the additional information into threads.
  • Establish guidelines for Slack versus email. How do you want your team to navigate the two communication channels?
    • As an example, perhaps Slack is used for quick questions, brainstorming sessions, and catch-up conversations while official messaging may be communicated over email.
    • Ask yourself: would this message benefit from a paper trail? Do we need to guarantee everyone sees the message? If so, email is the better communication route.

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