As vaccinations take hold and we begin to turn the corner on Covid-19, more employees will be returning to the office. Most of us are still working remotely; a recent survey from Mercer shows that 75% of American firms are still doing so. But the return to the office will likely begin over the next few months. The specifics will vary—some team members may be working entirely in the office, some will still work remotely part of the time—but many team members will still be working remotely. Hybrid teams—a mix of remote and office-based workers—will be the norm. Hybrid represents a new way of working, so just as we did with the shift to fully remote, we also need to learn how to make the shift to a hybrid work environment. Building trust and psychological safety will be critical in ensuring that shift succeeds.
While trust and psychological safety are vital for any team—Google’s Project Aristotle found that psychological safety was the top factor driving high-performing teams—hybrid teams have some unique considerations. Because team members are working in very differing situations, with differing levels of autonomy, ability to socialize and access to the team leader, we need to ensure that all team members are treated equally and fairly, regardless of their work arrangement.
There are many possible ways to configure hybrid teams, but the most common situation will be a mix of schedules and working arrangements, with not everyone in the office at the same time or on the same days. Here are five steps to help build and maintain high levels of trust and psychological safety in such situations.