Hybrid management

Hybrid management is a continuum between traditional attendance in person and distance management. To succeed with hybrid management, you must be aware of the advantages and pitfalls, your own biases and preferences, and the risk of asymmetry.

Introduction to hybrid management

In the video, Katrine Bastian provides an introduction to managing hybrid units. She addresses issues such as efficiency, work-life balance, work without boundaries, attention bias as a leader, feeling excluded and psychological safety.

To watch the video (in Danish), log on using AUID@uni.au.dk

Ask yourself the following questions:

  • How do I facilitate hybrid collaboration as a manager when I can't be there all the time?
  • How can I proactively initiate experiments and solicit feedback?
  • How can I become aware of my own biases and preferences?
  • How can I make sure my employees receive recognition and feedback?
  • How can I promote psychological safety in a hybrid group?

Articles and tips

Designing the hybrid office

The article "Designing the Hybrid Office" explains some of the aspects that you should consider when designing the physical workplace for hybrid work. The focus is on creating a setting that encourages good collegial relationships. The article also introduces the concept of the ‘Human Moment’, which makes it clear that when we go to the office in person, we do so not to go to meetings but rather to see each other.

”Designing the Hybrid Office” (Havard Business Review af Fayard, Anne Laure; Weeks, John; Khan, Mahwesh (2021)

Digital communication and good online meetings

Conducting and chairing meetings online is a skill in itself. Some managers at AU already have good experience with online meetings, while others are venturing into this setting for the first time. Below is some general advice on how to conduct and chair good online meetings. Note that: 

Distance management calls for more frequent, but shorter meetings than usual
This is essential in order to keep employees motivated – setting a direction, generating meaning and ensuring coordination. Online meetings should be shorter than the usual physical meetings, because screen meetings are energy-intensive. 

There will be a need for task-related meetings as well as meetings of a more social nature
When you no longer meet in the hallway or at the coffee machine, there is a need to ‘meet informally’ in other ways, in addition to the formal, professional meetings that focus on specific tasks. Informal meetings could be online coffee meetings, and they should not necessarily be initiated by you as a manager. You might encourage this by asking an employee to organise an informal coffee meeting. You could also encourage your employees to call each other, set up Skype meetings with each other etc. Try out different options and discuss the effect with your employees. 

Online meetings call for a clear structure and code of conduct
It is important that an agenda has been sent out in advance so that everyone knows the purpose of the meeting and is able to contribute valuable input. If there are several items on the agenda, each item should include purpose, preparation and form. It may also be useful to agree on an online code of conduct: What is good behaviour at online meetings? What are the rules if you want to say something? Does the camera have to be switched on, or is it OK if only the sound is on? Do you mute your microphone when you are not talking, etc. 

Make sure the technology works
Make sure the technology works - not only your own, but also others’ - before the meeting starts. If you need help with this, please contact AU IT Support.

Ask everyone to install the necessary software, log on and check their internet connection before the meeting starts. It may be a good idea that everyone logs on 2-5 minutes before the meeting starts, and that the participants are generally punctual.

If online meetings are a new setting for you, it is important that you make it clear to everyone that you are in a learning phase, and that it is OK if there are problems along the way.

Put more emphasis on non-verbal communication
Non-verbal communication at online meetings should be clearer and more compelling. Decoding people’s facial expressions, tone of voice or body language as we do at physical meetings is not possible in the same way. Therefore, good meeting participation/co-management means that the meeting participants clearly indicate whether they “follow”, “agree” or would like to take the floor.

Create good dynamic meetings by involving participants
At online meetings, contributions should be brief and to the point. People tend to lose interest more quickly online than at physical meetings. Be aware of this and make sure your contributions are brief and convey clear messages. It is a good idea to involve participants, for example by inviting comments, having group discussions, e.g. in breakout sessions, or by letting employees chair the meeting or facilitate the discussion of a specific item. For example, involve employees in co-developing initiatives to create dynamic meetings.

It is always a good idea to evaluate meetings, whether online or physical. Not least if online meetings are a new setting for you. Experiment with different methods and ideas. Do the meetings result in the outcome you were hoping for or do you need to make adjustments?

Further inspiration for online activities is available at AU Educate