The COVID-19 pandemic forced a massive shift to remote and hybrid work. Even as organizations bring workers back to the office, most are adopting a hybrid model where employees split time between the office and working from home. This new way of working presents managers with a major challenge - how to ensure productivity when they can't physically see their employees. Studies by Microsoft found over 85% of managers have trouble trusting workers are productive when working remotely. So how can managers build trust in hybrid teams?
That’s a question I discuss regularly with clients who I help figure out their hybrid work models. And to get more clarity, I spoke with Andrew Filev, founder of Wrike, a collaborative work management platform, to get his perspective. Filev highlighted the importance of shifting how managers evaluate work and define success. He explained that traditionally, managers often unconsciously judge work effort by physical presence and casual interactions. But with hybrid work that's not possible.
Focusing on Outcomes
Instead, Filev emphasized focusing on outcomes by setting clear expectations and metrics for success. Tie goals directly to broader business objectives and have open communication. With concrete goal setting and visibility into progress, managers can accurately gauge productivity without physical oversight.
Filev warned against using surveillance software that monitors keystrokes and screenshots. This type of “bossware” erodes trust, encourages employees to “game the system”, and fails to provide meaningful performance insights. Trust is the currency of teamwork, so tech tools that undermine trust are counterproductive.
I agree that surveillance software is problematic. In my experience helping companies implement hybrid work, a better solution is switching to weekly performance check-ins. The employee and manager agree on 3-5 specific, measurable goals for that week tied to the employee's role and company objectives. They have a short weekly meeting to go over progress and discuss any roadblocks. This frequent feedback cycle reinforces trust and alignment.
Filev also emphasized that 50-80% of productivity loss stems from miscommunication and lack of coordination. Individual employee surveillance tools don’t solve these issues but greater transparency does. According to a Wrike report, three-quarters (76%) of knowledge workers, a single source of truth would help them reduce work-related stress.He suggested using Agile methodologies like Scrum with cross-functional teams, daily standups to unblock issues, and clear workflows and accountability.
Technology like digital collaboration platforms and AI will increasingly automate mundane tasks and communication. Filev highlighted AI's potential to summarize messages, extract action items, and provide status updates. This removes busywork and keeps the focus on meaningful high-value activities.
But he stressed that AI and technology alone can’t transform collaboration. It comes down to management practices based on trust, transparency, and team accountability towards measurable goals. With the right leadership and tools, hybrid teams can be highly engaged, collaborative, and productive. But it requires letting go of outdated command-and-control tactics like physical monitoring and embracing outcomes-focused management.
The pandemic didn't just accelerate remote and hybrid work - it necessitated a management evolution. Organizations that embrace trust, transparency, and technology will gain a competitive advantage with happy, loyal, and highly productive hybrid teams. Those relying on pre-pandemic industrial era management will get left behind. The choice is clear: evolve or become obsolete.
Trust and transparency are essential for productivity in hybrid teams. Embrace outcomes-focused management and avoid surveillance tools...>Click to tweet
Image credit: Alena Darmel/Pexels
Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on May 30, 2023
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky was lauded as “Office Whisperer” and “Hybrid Expert” by The New York Times for helping leaders use hybrid work to improve retention and productivity while cutting costs. He serves as the CEO of the boutique future-of-work consultancy Disaster Avoidance Experts. Dr. Gleb wrote the first book on returning to the office and leading hybrid teams after the pandemic, his best-seller Returning to the Office and Leading Hybrid and Remote Teams: A Manual on Benchmarking to Best Practices for Competitive Advantage (Intentional Insights, 2021). He authored seven books in total, and is best know for his global bestseller, Never Go With Your Gut: How Pioneering Leaders Make the Best Decisions and Avoid Business Disasters (Career Press, 2019). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 650 articles and 550 interviews in Harvard Business Review, Forbes, Inc. Magazine, USA Today, CBS News, Fox News, Time, Business Insider, Fortune, and elsewhere. His writing was translated into Chinese, Korean, German, Russian, Polish, Spanish, French, and other languages. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training for Fortune 500 companies from Aflac to Xerox. It also comes from over 15 years in academia as a behavioral scientist, with 8 years as a lecturer at UNC-Chapel Hill and 7 years as a professor at Ohio State. A proud Ukrainian American, Dr. Gleb lives in Columbus, Ohio. In his free time, he makes sure to spend abundant quality time with his wife to avoid his personal life turning into a disaster. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on LinkedIn @dr-gleb-tsipursky, Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, Facebook @DrGlebTsipursky, Medium @dr_gleb_tsipursky, YouTube, and RSS, and get a free copy of the Assessment on Dangerous Judgment Errors in the Workplace by signing up for the free Wise Decision Maker Course at https://disasteravoidanceexperts.com/newsletter/.
Disaster Avoidance Experts
Dr. Gleb Tsipursky is on a mission to protect leaders from dangerous judgment errors known as cognitive biases by developing the most effective decision-making strategies. A bestselling author, he wrote Never Go With Your Gut (2019), The Blindspots Between Us (2020), and The Truth Seeker’s Handbook (2017). His cutting-edge thought leadership was featured in over 400 articles and 350 interviews in Time, Fast Company, CBS News, Inc. Magazine, and CNBC. His expertise comes from over 20 years of consulting, coaching, and speaking and training experience as the CEO of Disaster Avoidance Experts, along with over 15 years in academia as a behavioral economist and cognitive neuroscientist. Contact him at Gleb[at]DisasterAvoidanceExperts[dot]com, follow him on Twitter @gleb_tsipursky, on Instagram @dr_gleb_tsipursky, and visit https://DisasterAvoidanceExperts.com/GlebTsipursky to learn more.