Efficient Teamwork in a Hybrid Work Environment

A collaboration with TU Munich on how teamwork can be improved 

Deloitte collaborates with TU Munich on close-to-market research regarding Future Work models. In a joint study, project managers from different industries were interviewed and shared their insights on advantages, challenges, and opportunities to improve teamwork in hybrid work settings. Based on the findings, practical implications for companies were derived in three dimensions: Communication, collaboration, and equality.

As COVID-19 social distancing regulations become less restrictive, employers lift remote work-only regulations and allow their employees to return to the office. As not all employees come back to the office full-time, many companies have a mix of remote and in-presence work, known as hybrid work - this brings challenges, especially when it comes to teamwork.

In order to support companies with their challenges on the one hand and companies that want to leverage “the best of both worlds” in their work environment on the other, Deloitte collaborated with the Technical University Munich (TUM) to conduct a joint study about efficient teamwork in a hybrid work setting. In cooperation with TUM students, Deloitte interviewed product and project managers of various industries to identify and analyze implemented and desired hybrid work environments and tools. The findings of the study and practical implication derived from it are clustered into three dimensions: communication, collaboration, and equality.

Key findings of the study

Throughout the study, all experts agreed that hybrid work models increase the efficiency of the entire team compared to purely remote or only in-person work models. Additionally, most of the interviewees pointed out the importance of digital platforms to ensure barrier-free and real-time communication in a hybrid work environment. Digital tools enable easy and fast coordination and allow individuals to connect even when they experience difficulties in establishing personal relationships with co-workers or identifying with the company culture. The study identifies well-established team cohesion, trust, and a strong company culture as important drivers for equality among employees in a hybrid work environment.

Based on these results, we suggest that leaders consider the following recommendations when implementing hybrid work or improving the effectiveness of teams in a hybrid work set-up:

  • Communication: Regular team-wide in-person meetings combined with team building events provide an opportunity to socialize and network, building relationships within the team and strengthening team cohesion. One-on-one communication and individual support can be fostered by establishing an open-door policy (virtual and on-site) and regular feedback meetings. For new joiners, a buddy program can be helpful during the first orientation phase in a new company. For virtual, hybrid and in-person meetings, a common and aligned meeting etiquette can improve teamwork and ensure the active participation of all team members.
  • Collaboration: To increase team cohesion and coordination, interviewees suggested implementing an incentive program for employees to return to the office more frequently after working remotely due to COVID-19. Additionally, the need for in-person meetings was identified, especially for creative and strategic meetings. Apart from these occasions, daily stand-up meetings could take place remotely and are seen as an effective way to coordinate tasks efficiently. Finally, digital collaboration tools, such as Microsoft Teams can support to coordinate tasks easier and faster due to a variety of checklists, whiteboards, and other tools. For a high degree of project management work, experts suggested the implementation of Jira. Furthermore, a virtual whiteboard tool like Miro can be used both on-site and remotely in real time for collaboration, brainstorming, and even to coordinating tasks. When implementing new tools, trainings should be provided to ensure proper and effective usage.
  • Equality: To ensure equal treatment between remote and office employees, the hybrid work model works best in combination with flextime work models, i.e., employees manage their time independently according to a company’s core work time. In this way, all employees can choose their individual optimal work setting and hours while remaining flexibile and available.

In summary, the study shows that project and product managers consider hybrid work as a suitable working model for their field, but still see potential for improvement in efficient teamwork. Companies should always consider their own work settings when implementing the introduced measures and align these measures with the needs of their employees.

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