The COVID-19 pandemic forced a massive shift to remote and hybrid work. Even as organizations bring workers back to the office, most are adopting a hybrid model where employees split time between the office and working from home. This new way of working presents managers with a major challenge – how to ensure productivity when they can’t physically see their employees. Studies by Microsoft found over 85% of managers have trouble trusting workers are productive when working remotely. So how can managers build trust in hybrid teams?
That’s a question I discuss regularly with clients who I help figure out their hybrid work models. And to get more clarity, I spoke with Andrew Filev, founder of Wrike, a collaborative work management platform, to get his perspective. Filev highlighted the importance of shifting how managers evaluate work and define success. He explained that traditionally, managers often unconsciously judge work effort by physical presence and casual interactions. But with hybrid work that’s not possible.
Focusing on Outcomes
Instead, Filev emphasized focusing on outcomes by setting clear expectations and metrics for success. Tie goals directly to broader business objectives and have open communication. With concrete goal setting and visibility into progress, managers can accurately gauge productivity without physical oversight.
Filev warned against using surveillance software that monitors keystrokes and screenshots. This type of “bossware” erodes trust, encourages employees to “game the system”, and fails to provide meaningful performance insights. Trust is the currency of teamwork, so tech tools that undermine trust are counterproductive.
I agree that surveillance software is problematic. In my experience helping companies implement hybrid work, a better solution is switching to weekly performance check-ins. The employee and manager agree on 3-5 specific, measurable goals for that week tied to the employee’s role and company objectives. They have a short weekly meeting to go over progress and discuss any roadblocks. This frequent feedback cycle reinforces trust and alignment.
Filev also emphasized that 50-80% of productivity loss stems from miscommunication and lack of coordination. Individual employee surveillance tools don’t solve these issues but greater transparency does. According to a Wrike report, three-quarters (76%) of knowledge workers, a single source of truth would help them reduce work-related stress.He suggested using Agile methodologies like Scrum with cross-functional teams, daily standups to unblock issues, and clear workflows and accountability.
Technology like digital collaboration platforms and AI will increasingly automate mundane tasks and communication. Filev highlighted AI’s potential to summarize messages, extract action items, and provide status updates. This removes busywork and keeps the focus on meaningful high-value activities.
But he stressed that AI and technology alone can’t transform collaboration. It comes down to management practices based on trust, transparency, and team accountability towards measurable goals. With the right leadership and tools, hybrid teams can be highly engaged, collaborative, and productive. But it requires letting go of outdated command-and-control tactics like physical monitoring and embracing outcomes-focused management.
The pandemic didn’t just accelerate remote and hybrid work – it necessitated a management evolution. Organizations that embrace trust, transparency, and technology will gain a competitive advantage with happy, loyal, and highly productive hybrid teams. Those relying on pre-pandemic industrial era management will get left behind. The choice is clear: evolve or become obsolete.
Trust and transparency are essential for productivity in hybrid teams. Embrace outcomes-focused management and avoid surveillance tools...>Click to tweet
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Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on May 30, 2023