Hybrid collaboration is a practice that most of us were not sure about just a couple of years ago. And now it is clear that this new way of working is here to stay. It offers flexibility, freedom to choose, and improves productivity when done right.
To get a better sense of this approach, let’s look at the 4 types of hybrid collaboration and tips on how to make your efforts more effective.
Looking for more information on how to manage a hybrid team? Check out our Asynchronous communication guide.
What is Hybrid Collaboration
Even though you are most likely familiar with the concept of hybrid collaboration, let’s define this practice to have a better starting point for our discussion.
Hybrid collaboration is a form of collaboration when the team members are mixing working in the office and working remotely. This is the middle ground between the solely co-located teams and fully remote teams. Which often makes the most business sense and provides the team with the benefit of choosing their preferred style of working.
In most cases, the team makes the rules for their hybrid collaboration together. Deciding whether they can use either mode at any time, or do they have a more defined structure. Some decide on specific days when they come into the office. Others only gather for specific meetings or define on which days they can work alone and without any disturbances. Each team will make this decision based on their type of work and rituals.
4 Modes of Hybrid Collaboration
In practice, such teams will continuously switch between the 4 different modes of hybrid collaboration. Each will be used in specific circumstances and to make the most of the team’s time.
To get a better grasp of when they might be the most appropriate, let’s discuss each in more detail.
1. Working Together, Together
This first mode talks about a colocated team that is working together. This means the whole team is in the same place and working on the same task. An example of this collaboration would be having a meeting or a brainstorming session in the office.
It is best to use this when the team has to make big decisions or problem-solve a larger issue. Gathering in an office or another common space will allow for the meeting to be more productive and flow more easily.
2 Working Alone, Together
The second mode describes a colocated team that is working on individual tasks. This is a regular day in the office when everybody is in the same place, but working on their respective tasks.
Most teams will find that having one or two days during the week when everybody comes into the office helps keep the communication lines open and ease information sharing. This will also help with the socialization aspect as the team members will be able to have interpersonal chats and feel more like a part of a team.
3 Working Together, Apart
This next mode defines a remote or partly remote team that is working on the same task. This is very similar to the first mode, the only difference being that the team is not colocated. An example of such type of collaboration is a virtual meeting, problem-solving session, etc. where the whole team is working on the same task.
Such an approach is great for daily standup meetings, progress reports, or quick catch-ups between team members. They keep everyone in the loop even when working apart.
4 Working Alone, Apart
The fourth and last mode of collaboration defines a remote team that is working on individual tasks. The best example is each team member working in different places and focusing their efforts on individual tasks.
This mode of collaboration is best for deep-focus work, where you need to have good concentration and minimal distractions.
Depending on your process, you will decide when and how to use each of these modes. Most teams do so by specifying which days are dedicated to the office as well as agreeing that team members can block out deep-focus hours when needed. This means, they will not be answering any e-mails, chats, or participating in impromptu meetings.
Most Common Issues
Hybrid collaboration is great when done right. However, there are some common issues teams face when trying to set up their process. Here are the most common ones to look out for.
- Technology. If you are considering a hybrid team, most likely you have already worked remotely. However to ensure there are no surprise issues during an important meeting or presentation it is always good to check if the technology is up to the standard. Update any software or hardware and ensure those wanting to work remotely have a comfortable setup to do so.
- Socializing. A hybrid collaboration mode is great in the sense that you can enjoy working together with the team on some occasions. And that should be taken advantage of. The tricky part here is finding the right balance between meeting in person vs meeting virtually. While I would love to give you a guideline on how to do this, it will be a very personalized choice for each team.
- Sharing information. Another common issue teams face when using hybrid or remote collaboration, is the lack of information sharing between colleagues. In the office, you would see and hear much more things than working remotely. So, ensure, there are gatherings to share the latest updates and swap ideas. These may seem redundant but are crucial for the whole team to feel equally involved.
- Sticking to the 9 to 5. The beauty of remote or hybrid collaboration is being able to design your own schedule. So for the days when the team members are working remotely allow them to do so. Taking responsibility for your own time management allows the team members to grow and improve their performance.
Where to Start?
Ready to begin? Great! The first thing you will want to do is get the team together and gather their thoughts and ideas on how the model should look for you. Take into account their preferences and make the initial plan for everyone to follow. Once you begin, you will see what needs to be tweaked and which modes of collaboration work best in your process.
Remember to give your team some breathing space, employ asynchronous communication practices, and enjoy the process.
To help you manage hybrid projects, here is a list of the best remote collaboration tools.
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2014 - 2020 Marketing manager for Eylean.