Welcome to skills assessment specialist Rob Williams‘ feature on assessing remote team skills.

Assessing Remote team skills and Hybrid team skills

It all seems to have gone a bit quiet on remote and hybrid working. Most companies have some kind of policy in place, but few are enforcing it. The people who do go into the office often find there is no one else there, or they spend their time there sitting in on virtual meetings with colleagues who are working remotely.

Many organisations seem to be underestimating the scale of the transformation that hybrid working should and will eventually cause. Our fear is that this will be a future case study on incomplete transformation in ways of working.


Many organisations seem to have stumbled into hybrid working with a certain degree of reluctance, remote working was wildly popular with individuals but less popular with senior leaders. Most now have some form of policy in place (even if it’s not really being followed).


Structure has rarely changed significantly as a result of hybrid working, so remote and hybrid working exists within existing structures. Most structural attention at the moment seems to be on becoming more integrated and reducing cost.


Once we have changed strategy and structure we then need to align our business processes and systems to the new reality. The pandemic led to a rapid scaling up of adoption of virtual meetings technology and remote working software. There is a tremendous amount of detailed work needed to evolve our people processes to the new reality of remote and hybrid working


In a remote and hybrid future every soft skill will be exercised in an environment where some people are physically present and others are remote, and this is different.

In most organisations, managerial and professional people are now spending 40% or more of their time working remotely, a large proportion of meetings are now hybrid meetings where some people are physically present and others are remote.

Preempt Your Team’s Work Stressors

This approach requires preempting work stressors by addressing the conditions that generate mental health issues in the first place, detecting emerging issues, and remedying identified issues.

With the rise of remote work and the erosion of work-life boundaries, employees need to disconnect. At the preemptive stage, a focus on the organizational culture is essential to promote self-care values and healthy work-life boundaries. Leaders can proactively address these issues in a number of ways.

Model wellness and balance for your team

As a leader, it’s not enough to say that you prioritize wellness and announce a few virtual wellness events or services via your intranet or in internal communications. Each manager, supervisor, and team lead has a responsibility to demonstrate the company’s commitment to well-being.
Clearly valuing your own well-being shows your team that you value theirs, too. In practice, this may mean actually using your vacation days, being open about the block on your calendar reserved for a therapy appointment, or just recommending a great personal development book you’ve read. When it comes to modeling wellness for your team, it’s all about openness and action.

Monitor workloads

This is an obvious concern if your organization has shrunk its workforce, but a more subtle — in fact, invisible — element is the workload your employees face at home. Do they have child care or elder care responsibilities? Are they serving as remote-learning classroom assistants? Do they share a living space with interrupting roommates or relatives? Under these circumstances, some employees may not be able to handle their regular workloads, which shifts the weight to colleagues. But we all need balance.

Revisit your company’s values

If we learned anything as a society in 2020, it’s that we need to take a hard look at the way we live, work, and play. It’s essential to reevaluate how you, as a leader, show up for your employees — not just your clients.

Thoroughly examine your company values and see if they still hold up in practice after a year of remote work. If practice and values align, consider how you’ll incorporate these values in your future in-person, fully remote, or hybrid workplace — and if there’s a gap between values and practice, figure out what needs to shift to bring them into alignment.

For example, many companies that considered themselves progressive in supporting employees with caregiving responsibilities — child care or elder care, or care for relatives with illnesses or disabilities — realized during the pandemic that there were significant gaps in their understanding of those employees’ challenges in balancing work and life.

Detecting Emerging WellBeing Issues

A culture of self-acceptance can help support individual employees suffering from mental health issues to overcome their reticence about disclosing their situation. Similarly, creating a culture of awareness can encourage employees to support colleagues who might be struggling.

Collect data

Anonymous pulse surveys are useful tools for detecting brewing mental health issues before they emerge.

  • Survey responses will help assess the organization’s overall mental health climate and may help to identify areas — specific functions or teams
  • For example — that require particular support.
  • Whilst pulse surveys will give you a big-picture view of how members of your organization are functioning, you’ll also need to more deliberately seek out information from individuals.

Actively listen to your employees

  • It’s simple to host a virtual wellness event or offer employees a well-being stipend.
  • What’s less straightforward is asking your team what they need, genuinely listening, and responding accordingly.
  • In a world that feels like it’s changing by the hour, it’s critical to get a sense of how your employees’ well-being is changing, too.
  • Maybe a staff survey. Or a supervisor’s honest conversation with team members.

Embed wellness in the employee review process

  • Whether your company does reviews annually, quarterly, or monthly, make wellness a part of the process.
  • Take the opportunity to find out if your employees feel taken care of and ask for feedback on how the company is supporting your staff’s well-being.
  • A review isn’t just a moment for managers to provide team members with individualized feedback; it’s a critical moment to hear from them whether they feel valued, heard, and cared for as members of the company.


Of course everyone wants to be paid fairly but research has found that salary isn’t the main motivator for happiness at work.

If you pay somebody 5-10 per cent less than they think they’re worth, it nibbles away at contentment and becomes demotivating. But conversely, if you pay 5-10 per cent more than people think they’re worth, they don’t work any harder.

More important is being told you’re doing a good job, in a personal way, so not via an automated gift hamper. It’s about recognition for every part of the process – rewarding an individual’s performance with a thank-you, a note of congratulations or a small gift functions as a powerful motivator that helps build trust.


One of the overarching takeaways from the pandemic is the wake-up call that every employee has pressures outside of their working life, whether that’s what’s going on with their relationship, paying their rent or mortgage, or health concerns.

By addressing the physical, emotional and financial health of employees, companies will improve engagement levels and productivity.

At the heart of individuals’ wellbeing are manager relationships based on trust and mutual respect, listening to employees and responding to their anxieties. No manager should be trying to be a counsellor – there are other organisations much better equipped to do that, such as the Retail Trust, which supports wellbeing in the retail sector – but if you are actively supporting the health of your people, they will be more committed and absence rates and staff turnover will be lower, so it makes business sense.


“Purpose” has become the go-to workplace buzzword with good reason, because helping employees see that what they do every day is worthwhile – including how the business interacts with the wider world – instils a sense of pride that helps drive extra discretionary effort from people.

It’s about asking yourself, would you tell friends and family you work for a fantastic organisation, feel pride in the work you do and recommend that others come to work here?

It goes back to John F Kennedy’s 1962 Nasa space centre visit, when he asked the janitor what his role was. The man responded: “I’m helping put a man on the moon, Mr President.” Every employee should know their unique value to the company.


Personal development consistently comes out on top as the biggest driver for workplace happiness, so it is integral to the overall success of every organisation.

Is your company helping you to be better at your job and is your manager supporting this? When WorkL monitors flight risk within companies, a poor relationship with your manager is regularly cited as the number one reason for leaving a company, no matter how great the brand.

When employees feel their company really appreciates them, they exert extra discretionary effort to make their workplace an even better place to be, doing whatever is necessary to get the job done and instilling long-term loyalty. Companies that do everything they can for their people will benefit from the rewards.



Failure to authentically collaborate and share information will leave employees fumbling in the dark and feeling like they’re an unimportant part of the business, which over time erodes commitment.

Whether you’re a CEO or working on the shop floor, it’s very difficult to do your job well if you don’t have a context for your role, know how well you’re doing it or how the organisation as a whole is performing.

Do you truly know what’s going on under the bonnet of the company? And if not, why not? Transparency and ensuring that every employee has the information and training required to do their job is key to the overall success of an organisation.


Employees need to feel part of the decision-making process and that requires actively listening to their ideas and empowering them to voice suggestions in a two-way conversation.

When it is established that all experiences, voices and skills are encouraged, people have positive feelings about their job, their colleagues and their organisation. Crucially, it is only by actively seeking a diversified team and by acknowledging differences do you help to build the best outcomes and create an atmosphere for collaboration.

Trusting young people to develop and coaching them with feedback will empower teams more effectively than looking over their shoulder and telling them you “wouldn’t do it like that”.