Fostering collaboration and teamwork in a hybrid team is at the forefront of leaders concerns today. In today’s episode we interview Phil Simon, author of Reimagining Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and the Post-COVID World of Work. While many leaders are focused on how to go back to the office, Phil cautions that instead of focusing on when or how to go back, we should instead focus on how best to collaborate.
It is possible to collaborate in a hybrid environment effectively and efficiently, but it will require curiosity and experimentation. Leaders will focus on culture and priorities first, and then choose their collaboration tools to design the best ways of working. The winners in the future will build engagement and grow profits through maximizing collaboration to Team Anywhere.
What is Hybrid Collaboration?
Success begins with a common understanding of terms. What do we mean by collaborating on a hybrid team? Is it the same as productivity? Having these kinds of conversations with your teams is going to open up opportunities to see new perspectives and expectations as to collaboration.
Collaboration vs. Productivity
Collaboration and productivity are not the same. An independent team member can work alone and be very productive. Alternatively, several team members can collaborate poorly and thus hinder productivity. Consequently, it is important to clearly define both concepts—what does collaboration look like for us? What does productivity look like? Let’s make both happen.
In Terms of Collaboration, We’re Never Going Back
Before the COVID pandemic, collaboration was different. There was much more synchronous and in-person collaboration. The pandemic taught leaders and teams that remote work and collaboration was possible. Many employees have liked the ability to work from home and they want to continue their remote work. After a year and a half of learning to collaborate remotely— many teams and companies have realized that there really won’t be going back to the way collaboration was before the pandemic.
Benefits of Leaning into Hybrid Teams
Benefits leaders would do well to lean into the hybrid team model. Companies can reduce real estate costs, have a larger labor pool of talent to hire, and possibly have cost savings on payroll. If you’re paying an engineer $120,000 in San Francisco, you might only have to pay that engineer $90,000 in Dubuque, Iowa. Even though certain companies or certain jobs may return to a traditional office, people have spoken–and they don’t want their lives to revolve around work. They want the other way around.
Connecting Software for Collaboration with Hubs and Spokes
Technology will play a key part in how organizations reimagine collaboration and office life. Before Phil wrote his book, Reimagining Collaboration, he started thinking a lot about the ability to easily connect disparate apps (spokes) to a central entity (hubs).
Hub. Hubs are used for a company’s internal collaboration. Teams can do things like send messages, upload files, post videos, etc. The real power of hubs stems from being able to connect them to a spoke.
Spoke. Examples include ERP, CRM, project-management, productivity, content-creation applications, and more.
If you can install an app on your smartphone, you can connect the hub to the spoke.
Create Curiosity When There’s a Resistance to Change
When it comes to making changes to how you collaborate, there’s bound to be resistance to change. Sometimes it’s a team or team member, and sometimes it’s the leader. It can be hard for team members to speak up and encourage their leaders to leverage, purchase, and actively learn collaboration tools. Fortunately, when most leaders realize the benefits of company-wide collaboration tools, they can’t believe they didn’t embrace the change earlier.
Leaders can promote change by remembering that action expresses priorities. As the leader, you’re setting an example, and people mimic the actions you take. You can set an incredibly powerful example that others will emulate.
Allowing Collaboration Tools to Work for You – Not Against You
Have you ever used PowerPoint to create several different versions of a slide deck rather than used one version for your team to collaborate on a single version where you can see each other making changes? The first way isn’t very efficient. This is a classic example of people allowing collaboration tools to work against them.
We Need to Reimagine Collaboration and Teamwork in a Different Way
Much thought is needed to re-imagine collaboration and teamwork as we move into an increased hybrid environment. Leaders are asking questions, such as, “How do you evaluate employees?” “How do you look at workflow in terms of collaboration?” “What part of the performance review measures collaboration?” If collaboration is important, it should be connected to performance check-ins and used to support an entire high performance culture
Collaboration isn’t just about tools; rather, it should be the infrastructure of our emerging work world. It is the glue for business processes, organizational culture, hiring, change management, and engagement. Fostering collaboration and teamwork on a hybrid team is about finding the right mix of the resources that you have available to you.
About Phil Simon:
Phil Simon is a frequent keynote speaker, recognized collaboration and technology authority, and college professor-for-hire. He is the award-winning author of eleven books, most recently Reimagining Collaboration: Slack, Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and the Post-COVID World of Work. He helps organizations communicate, collaborate, and use technology better. Harvard Business Review, the MIT Sloan Management Review, Wired, NBC, CNBC, BusinessWeek, and The New York Times have featured his contributions. He also hosts the podcast Conversations About Collaboration.
To learn more about fostering collaboration and teamwork on a hybrid team, download this episode now.
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