Bridging the Gap: Hybrid Collaboration

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Let’s start with some basics, shall we? What does hybrid collaboration even mean?

Well, it refers to a situation in which some team members are physically present in a shared location, such as an office/class/any type of setting, while others participate remotely, often using digital tools and technology to connect and collaborate.

And why should I learn about it?

Of course, you don’t HAVE to BUT collaboration is often a crucial aspect of any workplace, as it allows teams to work towards a common goal. In today’s world, with remote work becoming increasingly common, it can be challenging for team members who are scattered all over the globe to cooperate effectively. Traditional in-person collaboration tools, such as team meetings, whiteboards, and group discussions, may not be as effective in remote work environments. As a result, hybrid collaboration tools have emerged as a popular solution for businesses to facilitate both live and long-distance collaboration.

In this article, we’ll explore those tools and offer some valuable tips to enhance your hybrid collaboration experience. But we will get to it later 😄

Hybrid collaboration – for whom?

It’s true that the first thing we are thinking when it comes to “hybrid collaboration” is work-related. With more and more businesses changing their structure and offering more remote-only job positions, it’s inevitable for this association to come to mind. I know, as I was writing this article thinking mostly about the “virtual employees”. But I also wanted to share with you some examples of non-work contexts that are just as important!

  • Hybrid Learning in Education: We already published some articles about these topics but in case you missed them, in the education sector, hybrid collaboration might involve a mix of in-person classroom instruction and online learning. Students for example can attend lectures in person while accessing digital resources and assignments remotely. This approach offers flexibility and accommodates various learning styles.
  • Hybrid Family Gatherings: In family settings, hybrid collaboration could involve some family members gathering in person for a special occasion like a birthday or holiday, while others participate remotely via video calls. This allows relatives to join in the celebration and stay connected, even if they live miles away from each other.
  • Hybrid Support Groups: Support groups for various issues, such as addiction recovery or mental health, can offer both in-person and virtual meetings. This ensures accessibility for those who may be unable to attend physical meetings but still need support.
people in office collaborating with remote employee
Image: Canva.com

But what about an office?

It’s not like we have to resign from stationary work altogether, but the demand for remote or hybrid arrangements is rising and it’s not likely that this trend will change any time soon:

  • 98% of workers want to work remotely at least part of the time,
  • 65% of workers want to work remotely all of the time, 32% would prefer a hybrid schedule,
  • 57% of workers would look for a new job if their current company didn’t allow remote work.

It seems to me that if a company wants to attract and retain top talent, they will need to offer flexible work arrangements. Employees, nowadays, are more likely to switch jobs to find a company that gives them the freedom office work simply cannot offer.

And there are many benefits to hybrid collaboration:

  • flexibility –  people can choose the work arrangement that best suits their needs, whether that’s working from home, the office, or splitting their time between the two;
  • work-life balance – as in more control over the work schedule, which helps with reducing stress and improving a person’s overall well-being;
  • increased productivity – studies have shown that hybrid workers are more productive than those who work exclusively in the office or remotely.

There are, of course, some challenges:

  • managing communication – it can be difficult to keep everyone on the same page when team members are scattered around the globe;
  • building relationships – it can be harder to build relationships with remote team members;
  • technology challenges – not all team members may have access to the same equipment.

But, despite these disadvantages, hybrid collaboration can be a successful way of working for many teams. By using the right tools and strategies, teammates can overcome those challenges and reap the benefits of their not-so-traditional work model.

people in office on a meeting with remote employee
Image: Canva.com

And thankfully there are ways to make hybrid work!

Establish Clear Communication Norms: Set expectations for communication, including response times and preferred channels. Use a combination of synchronous and asynchronous communication to accommodate different work styles and time zones.

Regular Check-Ins: Schedule regular team meetings, both in-person and virtually, to ensure everyone stays connected and aligned on goals and progress.

Embrace Inclusivity: When conducting meetings, make sure remote team members have an equal opportunity to participate. Use video calls, share screens, and encourage everyone to contribute their ideas.

Document Everything: Record meeting minutes, document decisions, and share them with the team. This helps ensure everyone has access to vital information and can stay on track.

Cultivate Trust: Trust is the foundation of successful collaboration. Encourage trust by setting clear goals, delivering on commitments, and fostering a culture of openness and transparency.

Flexibility and Empathy: Things don’t always go according to plan, so be flexible and willing to adapt. You need to recognize that each team member may have unique circumstances and challenges. Be empathetic when accommodating different working hours and needs.

Training and Onboarding: Ensure all team members are proficient in the collaboration tools you use. Offer training and resources to help everyone make the most of these tools.

Data Security: Pay special attention to data security when collaborating online. Use secure channels and educate team members about best practices for safeguarding sensitive information.

Feedback Loops: Encourage feedback from team members about the collaboration process. Regularly review and refine your collaboration strategies based on this input.

Celebrate Achievements: Recognize and celebrate milestones and achievements, whether big or small. This fosters a sense of unity and motivation within the team. Keep everyone motivated and engaged.

a person working on date on a tablet

What about TOOLS?

There are a variety of tools available to help teams collaborate remotely. Be careful and choose those that are easy to use and that support the way your team works. The constant stream of notifications can lead to mental fatigue, so plan and consult with your employees what tools are absolutely needed. And remember that more doesn’t always mean better!

  1. Video Conferencing Tools

Video conferencing tools like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet have become essential for hybrid teams. They offer real-time communication, screen sharing, and virtual meeting spaces for productive discussions and presentations.

  1. Project Management Software

Tools like Trello, Asana, and Jira help teams organize tasks, set deadlines, and track progress. They’re necessary for keeping everyone on the same page, regardless of their location.

  1. Cloud Storage and File Sharing

Storing documents in the cloud with services like Dropbox, Google Drive, or OneDrive ensures that team members can access files from anywhere, collaborate on them in real time, and maintain version control.

  1. Communication Platforms

Slack and Microsoft Teams are excellent platforms for real-time chat and asynchronous communication. They help bridge the gap between team members who are in the office and those working remotely.

  1. Collaborative Document Editing

Google Workspace and Microsoft 365 allow multiple team members to collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, and presentations simultaneously. This is especially helpful for co-authoring and reviewing work.

  1. Virtual Whiteboards

Tools like Miro and Mural facilitate brainstorming and collaborative visual planning. They provide a digital canvas for team members to draw, write, and organize ideas.

  1. Hybrid collaboration tools

The best workshops and brainstorming sessions happen when they revolve around a real whiteboard. This is where tools like ShareTheBoard excel, as they’ve been built from the ground up to support a hybrid collaboration experience. Our tool identifies your handwritten content in real-time and automatically saves it to the cloud. It also helps you keep your whole team engaged, as with the help of digital notes, your remote colleagues can contribute content directly to your board!

So…

Hybrid collaboration is here to stay, whether we like it or not. It’s really a must for modern workplaces. And by leveraging the right tools and implementing a right culture for hybrid setups, your team can achieve seamless cooperation, regardless of physical location.

So, embrace the flexibility and possibilities that hybrid work offers, and watch your team shine!

Resources

https://www.forbes.com/advisor/business/remote-work-statistics/

https://buffer.com/state-of-remote-work/2023?ref=buffer.com

https://miro.com/blog/hybrid-collaboration-field-guide/

https://blog.prezi.com/collaboration-tools-for-hybrid-teams/

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