Today’s video blog post is Strategy #5 in our series on what you can do to better lead your hybrid or virtual team. Back in Strategy #1, I told you that one of four specific areas you should focus on is setting clear expectations. Whether it is goals, timelines, milestones, or your staff’s availability, your people should know what you and their co-workers expect of them. So in today’s strategy, I want to focus specifically on the importance of defining clear working hours.
Establish expectations about working hours
Teams cannot be cohesive unless they collaborate. So your team members need to know when they can expect to find each other available and responsive? Now I don’t mean available for every minute of the hour, but more when are they “at work”? Team members need to know when they can reach each other. For that matter, so do you, so do your clients. If you don’t set this expectation with your hybrid or virtual team, you are setting them (and you) up to fail. So make sure you establish this expectation up front.
There should be at least some common working hours
By the way, I am not suggesting that all your staff work exactly the same schedules. Indeed, one of the benefits of working virtually is that staff can work flexible schedules. But I am saying that it’s important to establish common working hours for at least a fraction of the day. If all your staff are in the same time zone, then even with flexible schedules, this will be fairly easy. If they’re in different time zones, then you’ll have to put more effort into finding a common time period that works for everyone. But this is important, so if necessary, pull rank and regiment a period during the day when everyone is expected to be at work.
Make it a point to set expectations about working hours with your hybrid or virtual team up front, and you’ll avoid all kinds of issues later.
In my experience, this issue of availability (or lack thereof) is often the source of problems in a virtual team. But I’d love to know more about what it happening in your organization. Have you set these expectations out or not? And if so, are they working? Please add your perspectives in a comment below.