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Keeping Hybrid Teams Engaged
Publication Date
February 23rd 2024

An article by Jennifer Haddad, GPHR, SHRM-SCP, Human Resources Manager at Urban was recently published by the Zweig Group. The Zweig Group is a leader in AEC firm management and marketing. It is a reliable source for industry data and research, known for offering personalized learning and training services.


Keeping Hybrid Teams Engaged


When leaders combine a strong company culture with workplace flexibility and employee empathy, they can create an environment where hybrid work can thrive.


In this post-pandemic era, both employers and employees are working to redefine their employment expectations and determine which pandemic practices will become the “new normal.” One area still in hot debate between C-suites and talent pools is remote versus in-person work. While fully remote and entirely in-person work arrangements each have their share of pros and cons, hybrid work has emerged as a seemingly positive middle ground within the architecture and engineering industry, offering the best of both worlds for companies and their employees.


But is hybrid work really a win-win? Two significant benefits of hybrid work include better work-life balance for employees and increased employee retention rates. At the same time, however, hybrid work environments can make it harder for employees to stay connected to the company culture, which can hurt long-term motivation and productivity. The good news is there are small steps an organization can take to mitigate this potential downside of the hybrid work environment.


To keep their hybrid employees engaged, firm leaders can work to create an environment that promotes connection with:


  • Teammates. The connections created between team members are the essential building blocks of a successful hybrid work model, as these connections can promote unity and belonging.
    Examples of tools that leaders can leverage to promote teammate connection include:
    • Online collaboration tools. Using online platforms like Teams and SharePoint can help teams maintain consistent two-way channels for communication, collaboration, and feedback, whether remote or in-person.
    • Behavioral assessments. Using a communication assessment like DiSC can help people learn more about their teammates’ work styles, which can improve team communications and promote intra-group vulnerability.
    • Casual meeting spaces. High-performing teams need strong foundations of trust, so they will need opportunities to build that trust outside of their immediate tasks. When the team is in the office, they have the chance to create connections through chitchat or “water cooler” talk, and they will need similar opportunities to keep building on those connections when working remotely. Teams can engage in virtual relationship-building in a couple of ways, including general “water cooler” chat channels and video check-ins instead of emailing.


  • Connection with tasks. Communication becomes especially important in remote and hybrid work environments, as physical isolation can create unintentional information barriers that can lead to increased task ambiguity.
    Examples of tools leaders can leverage to promote task connection include:
    • Regular check-ins. Holding regular one-on-one and group check-ins can provide leaders with a valuable opportunity to listen to employee feedback, reinforce the group’s mission and vision, share project updates, and check on task progress. These meetings do not need to be long but should be held at regular intervals.
    • Clear expectations. Setting clear expectations for work progress and outcomes can help prevent ambiguity. When employees know what is expected of them, they can feel confident they are working toward the right goals. Leaders can communicate and reinforce expectations through multi-modal communication channels, job descriptions, remote work plans, and job aids/process documents.
    • Celebration of individual and team progress. Tracking and communicating team accomplishments and showing employee appreciation becomes even more essential when teammates are not in the same place. Leaders can help employees feel more connected to their tasks by celebrating team and project wins.


  • The organization. In a remote work arrangement, connection to the company culture becomes the only distinguishing factor that keeps a talented individual as an employee of Company A instead of Company B. Companies should, therefore, aim to leverage whatever tools or resources are necessary to promote a strong company culture to keep their offsite employees engaged.
    In a hybrid work arrangement, the company has the added opportunity to engage with employees on the days they are in the office, so it would behoove business leaders to try to make the most of those in-office days as well.


  • Examples of tools leaders can leverage to promote organizational connection include:
    • Onboarding experience. Paying special attention to the onboarding process can set new hires up with a positive connection to the company from day one. Virtual or in-person onboarding is an excellent chance for the company to welcome new hires into the culture and ensure they know where to go with questions. Carefully crafting a meaningful onboarding experience for hybrid workers has been shown to lead to increased retention rates (by more than 69 percent in some cases), especially when the company’s senior leadership gets involved with the onboarding process.
    • Mentorship programs. Mentoring programs can offer a host of benefits for a company, such as keeping employees engaged with the company culture and providing employees with development opportunities. While benefits afforded to mentees may be more apparent, mentoring programs also benefit the mentors, who can gain hands-on leadership and coaching experience.
    • Hybrid events. Offering employees the option to attend events virtually or in person with other employees promotes the company’s commitment to flexibility. The events could be related to professional development, industry networking, specialty work teams, or social affairs. While various opportunities for employee engagement exist, company social events, in particular, have been shown to lead to increased engagement and productivity.


As more firms adopt a long-term hybrid approach, the volume of best practices and methods for engaging with the hybrid workforce will continue to grow. Whichever methods an organization chooses, the key to those initiatives being successful may hinge upon the company’s willingness to listen to the needs of its workers. When a company seeks and responds to employee feedback, those interactions can positively impact the employee experience and create a culture of feedback and trust. When leaders combine a strong company culture rooted in trust with workplace flexibility and employee empathy, they can create an environment where hybrid work can thrive. 


Jennifer Haddad, GPHR, SHRM-SCP , is the human resources manager at Urban Engineers. Contact her at