Let's first set some context. You’re NOT hybrid if...
- Office days are mandated
- Remote work needs approval
- Culture only happens face-to-face
- Most of your team is in one location
- Information gets trapped in buildings
- Some meetings are only for the office
- Brainstorming must take place in person
- In-office workers get preferential treatment
The key to getting hybrid right is realizing these problems are solved by being...
Remote First doesn't mean the office is not valuable. Instead, it ensures that there's a level playing field across distributed, remote team members and those in the office.
Because when one person is remote, like it or not, you're a remote company.
Remote First is the key mindset shift to making hybrid work...work.
Moving from a Hybrid to Remote First Mindset
📅 MAKE ALL MEETINGS REMOTE FIRST
Everyone joins remotely, even if in a conference room. You'll need to have a tool with noise cancelation built into it like Around but even Zoom or Google Meet works.
This approaches ensures those who are remote are not isolated against a large group starring back at them. It creates a meeting where all feel their voice can be heard the same instead of isolated remote vs. groups of colocated participants.
🧠 BRAINSTORM USING INTERACTIVE TOOLS
Move whiteboarding to Miro, Mural, FigJam, or Zoom Whiteboard.
The physical whiteboard is done. Let's be honest, it wasn't ever great. Because once a brainstorming session was over, so was the value. You'd never know where the photo was afterward or you'd see the whiteboard for months with "keep" near it.
Interactive whiteboards also allow elements like timers and voting. You'll be able to reference everything going forward and add to it.
But the big hybrid win here is everyone is part of the brainstorming session regardless of location.
💧 EMBRACE "VIRTUAL" WATER COOLERS
Offer virtual spaces for recreating the proverbial "water cooler" moments. I've mentioned tools including Dive, HeyTaco, or Donut in the past. They are add-ons to existing tools like Zoom or Slack to drive fun, gratitude, and new, water cooler-like connections respectively.
You can also consider trying "virtual offices". Virtual offices recreate in-office connectivity regardless of location. Instead of linear tools like Slack and Zoom that require back and forth and scheduling, they are social in nature, fun, and encourage serendipity without prescribing it. I've detailed these differences when I shared what Zoom isn't ready for next.
ℹ KEEP INFORMATION SHARING ASYNC & TRANSPARENT
Ensure information is not 1:1 or siloed, especially in a hybrid environment. There are two places where this happens: physically and virtually.
Physically, when conversations or meetings happen only in the office, remote team members play catch up...or worse, stay completely out of the loop. Which has disastrous impacts later.
Similarly, and most don't realize this issue, the same can be true of your virtual or remote work tools. When you have private channels, group messages, and DMs, you're trapping knowledge between people and reducing transparency.
Instead, default to documents and asynchronous collaboration tools that can be shared with and consumed by your team regardless of their location.
🏢 FACILITATE OFFICE DAYS MORE INTELLIGENTLY
It's going to take some time for the office to be reinvented. And it needs to be reinvented. From layout to size, defining it's value for workers, and how it can be an experience versus about commuting and distraction.
In the short term, what drives people to the office?
But the unsophisticated methods of Slack channels, text groups, or spreadsheets noting the days you'll go in are not scalable beyond 50 or so people.
There are much better approaches, including Tactic. I had on the CEO and co-founder of Tactic on my podcast recently. Check out the episode on YouTube or your favorite platform, where we discuss how the smartest companies handle hybrid and what Tactic is doing to make hybrid better.