Managing Hybrid Teams at Christmas
Managing hybrid teams requires us to do things differently to before. With our workforces spread out across multiple locations, our approach to everything from designing the office to holding meetings has to change in order to make hybrid work, work.
Much of the planning around hybrid working will be ‘evergreen’, that is, it will apply to your processes and procedures from now on. But there will be some changes only required occasionally. Though less frequent, they remain just as key when you are taking decisions about how to manage them for your hybrid teams.
Perhaps one of the most obvious examples of this is festive holidays. And as we’re on the approach now to that well-known holiday that is Christmas, we thought it timely to offer some words of advice for you when you’re looking at how to manage your hybrid teams this jolly season.
At the forefront of everything should be a solid plan. A plan to cover your ‘definites’, your ‘what ifs,’ and your ‘what abouts’ for the vacation season, considering the things you need to have in place for both the remote and physical workspaces.
Depending on what your business delivers or produces, your workplaces may remain open over the festive period or be closed for a time. For businesses that need to remain open, managers will need to consider staff rotas, holiday requests, and ensure that all cover is in place to ensure no service interruption. This can be a tricky task when you are met with multiple annual leave requests, but using a hybrid management tool, such as Team Today can help. You can see and manage staff whereabouts, holidays and holiday approvals, and use the work planner to view across multiple teams how the holiday season is looking. It also allows you to plan cover for keyholders, fire wardens, first aiders, and mental health first aiders.
For offices that have a shutdown period, managers will still need to ensure everything is in place for closing down the offices, for maintaining security of premises, and for enabling staff who wish to do so, to be able to access the premises safely during the season.
It’s important not to forget your customers in your plans. They will need to know when you’re open, how they can continue to access your service/product, and equally what to do if you won’t be fully open. You should include Christmas opening hours on your website and your socials and have a plan for the timings and types of social media posts you wish to feature over the holiday period, with any contingency built in for unexpected events, i.e. in the event of bad national news, you don’t want a jolly scheduled post going out.
Even if your company does have a period of Christmas shutdown, there will still be processes that need to continue to keep you running. And there may be some you can alter to help your teams manage over the holiday period. For example, building in flexibility around paydays, to enable your teams to budget over the extended break.
There may also be service-specific actions you can take to make the holiday period flow smoother, such as code freezing for developers to ensure teams aren’t trying to fix things over the holidays.
All faiths and none
For all the excitement about presents, trees and sleighbells, we shouldn’t forget that Christmas is a Christian festival to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and people the world over celebrate it in some shape or form, including people of other faiths and none, but of course, not everyone. Managers should be mindful of the diversity of their workforce, particularly when it comes to people’s faiths and religions. Different religions have their own festivals and celebrations, such as those close to the Christmas period, including Diwali, Hannukah, and Yule. Managers who should be aware of the religious celebrations observed by their teams, and what they need to do to ensure nobody is prevented from celebrating them.
Including religious festivals on the team calendar is a great base to begin from, and promoting acceptance of different faiths among your teams by encouraging colleagues to share how they celebrate and what their traditions are is really important. Even within Christianity, there are myriad ways people celebrate Christmas globally, based on their cultural traditions.
And for those in your team who do not follow a religion or faith, managers should take time to find out how they approach the festive season.
Responsibility to ensure positive staff wellbeing doesn’t pause for Christmas, and in fact some often find the festive period a very lonely and unhappy time. For example, staff who have few family members to call on, or those who have lost loved ones, will need extra support. Managers should be clear about communication lines over the holiday, keeping them open and responsive, and taking time to check in with colleagues, particularly those you know may be vulnerable to feeling isolated. And make sure everybody knows where they can access support if they need to.
And for remote workers who will continue to work for all or part of the holidays, managers need to ensure their workload is achievable and not too much if they are taking on others’ tasks to cover annual leave.
Whilst there are those among us who may shudder at the thought of the office Christmas party, or the secret Santa gift you might struggle to sell online afterwards, marking the festive season as team does have its place. For many businesses, Christmas and New Year mark the end of one office year and a fresh start into the next, a bit like stepping into the next chapter of your business book. So, it’s nice to reflect on the departing year, to celebrate successes, acknowledge tough times, and to look ahead at the new year and all it may bring.
With hybrid workplaces, the physical office party isn’t always practical or possible, but there are lots of options for virtual parties, provided you don’t feel too silly wearing a party hat on Zoom. With virtual parties, you can tailor them to your communication means, so think virtual quizzes, bingo, or even a good old-fashioned virtual Christmas dinner, albeit one where you bring your own food and eat it in front of the camera. Hybrid doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate with your teams; it just means you should be more creative about how you do it.
These are our tips to help you along with your hybrid Christmas workplace.
For more insights and articles about hybrid working from Team Today, visit our blog here.