Remote and Hybrid work

1 October 2021

10 min.

10 practical tips for a better experience in hybrid work mode

If there was one topic that was much talked about when many people were forced to transition to remote work, it was the question of productivity. Would our colleagues and employees perform as well at home? Many studies and surveys show that people at home generally worked longer hours, leading to burnout for some.

With the advent of new hybrid work modes, it’s time to take back control of our schedule to ensure healthy productivity. According to a survey of our community, nearly 65% of people will generally work from home, while 19% will work more frequently in the office; only 2% plan to return to 100% in-person work, while 9% will work remotely full-time. The way hybrid work happens will vary from one organization to another.

However, regardless of how you work, implementing good practices will help make hybrid mode a success for you and your organization. In this article, we give you 10 of them!

Tip #1: Make the most of the workplace

When you’re in the office, it’s a great time to get together with your colleagues. The interaction is always a little different in person, so these are good times to brainstorm, resolve outstanding issues, get an update on a project, and also spend time with your team. Don’t hesitate to go to lunch together or simply take a break around the coffee machine to get to know each other better.

In the office, collaboration and socializing should be at the forefront of your mind. If you’re working solo all day in the office, chances are good that you’ll ask yourself at the end of the day: Why did I waste time commuting today?

On the other hand, when you’re working remotely, take the opportunity to schedule tasks that require more concentration. This is the time to focus on work that is best done alone. Try to minimize the number of meetings during these days and use the time to move your deliverables forward.

If you don’t have all the flexibility and freedom to choose your work dates and locations, you could propose some internal code to let the team know when everyone is focused and when they are more likely to collaborate.

Tip #2: Reduce the digital load

Working in a hybrid mode can have a significant impact on our digital workload. In fact, we have become very dependent on technology to keep in touch with our colleagues. As a result, the amount of messages sent to talk to those in the office or at home has increased tenfold. It is therefore more important than ever to find tactics to manage this flow of information and thus preserve your concentration time and productivity.

A good practice would therefore be to automate as much as possible certain rules or filters in your inbox in order to receive only the essential messages in real-time, and the rest at the appropriate time. This way, you will avoid the temptation (sometimes very strong) to fall into emails at any moment.

To make this work well, it’s important to let your colleagues know or indicate in your signature that you’re responding to emails late in the morning, for example.

If you are physically at work, rather than sending an email, get up and see your colleague in person! It sounds very simple, but it can greatly reduce the number of virtual exchanges and boost your sense of belonging!

Tip #3: Review team standards

With the hybrid mode, you will once again have to adapt your way of working, your rhythm, your schedules, your way of collaborating, of serving your clients, etc. To put all the chances on your side to make this new transition a positive one, think about reviewing your team standards… as a team! The first step is the following.

How will you know when your colleague is in the middle of a concentration period and it’s best not to disturb them? Through a color code on your Teams or Slack? Via your shared calendar?

If you are in the office, what code will you adopt? One suggestion is to use small colored flags to hang on your screen: green for I am open to collaboration and red for Please do not disturb me.

The important thing is that the standard is discussed and shared as a team.

Tip #4: Become aware of your biases

One of the most important factors related to demobilization is the feeling of inequity. In a hybrid work environment, it is important to consider whether everyone will be treated the same when some are in the office and others are remote. Team dynamics – where everyone feels contributing and included – must remain a focus at all times.

The first thing to do is to become aware of your own biases, those that may favor some colleagues at the expense of others.

First of all, there is the proximity bias, where we think that people we see working are more productive than those at a distance. Such a bias could have the impact of assigning a job to someone you have more contact with than someone you see less often, for example.

A second common bias is confirmation bias, which is the risk of interpreting new information in order to confirm what you already think about a person. From a distance, you might therefore continue to like people you already like or continue to avoid people you like less. While this reflects human nature, it is not desirable in a team setting: the less interaction you have with certain colleagues, the less chance you have to change your opinion of them.

Being aware of your biases is the first thing to do to foster a good team atmosphere.

Tip #5: Pay particular attention to meetings

The first thing to realize about hybrid meetings is that they’re not easy. It’s hard to prevent side conversations and innuendo, to make sure the sound is good and that everyone feels included. In fact, a hybrid meeting should be a last resort!

However, when you have no choice, the first piece of advice is to put all participants on the same videoconference tool as soon as one person is remote! This way, everyone is equal. The same goes for the speaking time: try to make it equal for everyone. So, don’t hesitate to appoint a person responsible for speaking time in order to see to it.

Otherwise, the facilitator plays a crucial role in maintaining engagement and momentum in a meeting. By starting the rounds with people who are remote or less frequent speakers or by prompting them frequently to engage them, the facilitator can really make a difference. Better yet, split the facilitation between one person in the office and one at home!

Finally, the end of the meeting should correspond to the end of the discussion. Otherwise, if choices are made informally after the fact, people at a distance may not feel comfortable with this and may not be motivated to participate again.

Tip #6: Aim for a fair interaction time

To keep track of your interactions and make sure you are nurturing your various relationships at work, keep an Excel file or list nearby to list the connections you have with your colleagues. This way, you’ll thwart proximity bias and avoid thinking only about those you see more regularly.

On this grid, write down the times when you have had a one-on-one meeting, the projects you have in common, the feedback you have exchanged, their strengths, etc. Having this list in front of you allows you to have a more objective view of your relationships and to ensure a team dynamic where everyone feels included.

If you don’t feel like using a tool or a list, you can simply do a mental check-in once a week: Who have I not interacted with in a long time?


How can you facilitate your organization’s transition to hybrid mode?

Transition to Hybrid Mode

Tip #7: The spider web

Another trick to ensure that everyone uses their speaking rights fairly is the spider web exercise.

Imagine yourself in a meeting. The facilitator draws a circle and connects people according to their interactions as the meeting progresses. At the end of the discussion, you will have a visual representation of your interactions. You will see who is overused in a meeting and who is underused. This will allow you to easily optimize your next team meeting!

Tip #8: Reduce the amount of digital information

Many of us have found a great use for the time freed up by the commute! We work out, we sleep more, we have a little more time to take care of the kids and get them off to school.

With hybrid work, we are forced to rethink everything. If hybrid meetings are a last resort, virtual meetings are here to stay.

Studies show that the amount of information gathered by our brains during multiple videoconference meetings is beyond natural. Normally, in face-to-face meetings, we listen to and decode the non-verbal language of only the person speaking. In videoconferencing, everyone looks each other in the eye and decodes each other’s non-verbal language at the same time, including ourselves. This makes for an information overload that can be tiring in the long run!

Here are some simple solutions that can be put in place to remedy the situation:

  • Exit full-screen mode to reduce the size of the faces and the amount of information to process
  • Hide the self display

This way, you spend more time listening to your colleagues than analyzing or judging yourself.

Tip #9: Implement blank periods of time

Blank time is the time we allow our mind to wander without a specific goal. For the brain, it is an extremely refreshing and invigorating activity. Admit it, you’ve come up with some brilliant ideas while taking a shower or on a country road, right?

Here are some tips for making more room for blank time:

  • Have 50-minute meetings instead of a full hour
  • On your way to the office, look at the scenery on the train or bus, or listen to music while clearing your mind in traffic
  • Use your lunch hour to eat away from your computer

For the brain, periods of inaction are rejuvenating. Although it is not easy to do nothing, try it! You will see that it is good for you.

Tip #10: Train your skills

Even before the pandemic, your team certainly had skills to develop in order for its members to thrive. But in hybrid mode, you will need skills in communication, empathy, psychological safety, kindness, feedback, recognition, and courage more than ever. Few people are prepared for this challenge.

To ensure that everyone evolves in a positive way, don’t hesitate to implement practices to develop as a team: co-development, team challenges or development paths can be good solutions.

In conclusion, it is by taking care of the productivity of each person, by protecting the team dynamics, and by taking care of ourselves that the transition to hybrid mode will be smooth.