Working in the office was a jungle all on its own, and now with hybrid working, we as managers and people leaders are tackling a different beast. As some of us may know, a hybrid work environment is one where employees are allowed to work from home sometimes and come into the office on other days. This can be a great way to improve morale and productivity. Still, like with any working arrangement, conflict can easily be something that needs to be managed if the right frameworks are not set in place beforehand. Let’s dive deep into how we can manage team conflict in a hybrid work environment to ensure you’re creating a happy and healthy workspace.
Define The Rules Of Engagement Upfront
To manage conflict when you’re working in a hybrid environment, it’s important to set the ground rules with your team beforehand. This will help to avoid any misunderstandings or conflicts down the line. The first rule of engagement to manage conflict when working hybrid is all-around communication. When employees are working from home, it is important to have a clear and concise way of communicating with them.
- This can be done through email, instant messaging, or even video conferencing. Whatever method you choose, make sure that everyone is on the same page and knows what is expected of them. Conflict usually stems from a lack of communication or when the communication is unclear.
- Setting the expectation of the modes of communication upfront ensures everyone is on the same page and knows the tools to use when trying to reach and connect with one another.
Build Trust With One Another
We come from a workplace practice in which we equate the effort someone puts in their job by seeing what time they show up and when they leave their desk at the end of the day. Those that are in early and stay late are the ones to be seen as “putting in the work,” whereas those that stroll in or take a long lunch can come across as lazy or not pulling their weight.
- With hybrid working, all of that is out the door. In a hybrid work environment, it is important to trust that everyone on the team is pulling their weight and meeting their deadlines. Even if we do not see them getting the work done like we are used to, give them the benefit of the doubt and trust that the work is getting done and that they are attending their meetings.
- Just because someone is working from home doesn’t mean that they are not working hard. In fact, many people find that they are more productive when they are in an environment where they feel comfortable and respected. So make sure everyone is trusting one another, and if there are any work concerns or missed deadlines, they are discussed and not swept under the rug. This is important to ensure you manage any conflict ahead of time while working in a hybrid environment.
Encourage Open Communication
Different team members may have different communication styles in a hybrid work environment. Some like to be more direct and to the point; others want to give as many details as possible. Regardless of communication, you should encourage everyone on the team to be open with one another when sharing concerns or issues they encounter. This is key because since we are not together in the same space, it is easy to ignore or not prioritize issues or potential conflicts in a hybrid work environment.
- Encourage everyone to be open with each other and to share any concerns they may have. This will help build trust and understanding and prevent small issues from escalating into bigger problems.
- Conflicts that are not resolved can develop into small issues brewing under the surface, potentially leading to an outburst. Plus, since many conversations happen online vs. in person, there are not usually any witnesses, which can lead to potential accusations and finger-pointing quickly.
With different team members working in different locations, it’s important to be flexible in your approach to conflict resolution. What works for one team member may not work for another, so it’s important to be willing to try different tactics.
- One way to do this is to find common ground with the other party. For example, if you are dealing with a scheduling conflict, try to find times that work for both of you. Another way to be flexible is to be willing to compromise, which means being willing to give up something to reach an agreement.
- Finally, it is also essential to be open-minded. This means considering the other person’s perspective and finding a resolution that works for both of you. By being flexible in your conflict resolution approach, you will be more likely to find a solution that works for everyone involved.
When you bring people together for a common purpose, you can expect some heads to bump and potential friction. Working together as a team is not always sunshine and rainbows in this new hybrid world. However, managing conflict while working hybrid is vital for work production and creating a collaborative workplace culture. It takes all of us to create healthy and engaging workplaces we need to be in, so using these tips will ensure that conflict is minimum and we can all work happily.