Organizations are currently challenged to rethink how they organize the working hours and location of their employees. During the Covid pandemic, many employees worked in a home office and the majority would like to continue to do so (Bundesministerium für Arbeit, 2021). As a result, so-called hybrid teams are emerging in organizations. These are work teams in which some or all team members work both on-site at the office and from home. To a certain extent, members can decide for themselves when and where they want to work. While this new form of working brings opportunities (e.g., autonomy through flexibility or elimination of commuting time), it also poses challenges, for example, in terms of coordination within the team (e.g.: Reduction of exchange with colleagues, exhaustion due to required accessibility outside working hours). Studies show that a certain degree of local flexibility is positively related to job satisfaction, but there are also limits to flexibility. But how much home office is enough and at what point is it too much? To what extent is this related to the practices of colleagues?
Although a hybrid solution seems to be the preferred form for individual employees, it causes ambiguity at the team level, which is experienced as an additional challenge and brings communication strategies within teams into focus. The nature of collaboration in teams has changed significantly as a result of the rapid transition to the home office. Colleagues with whom one regularly exchanged ideas in the office before Covid-19 are suddenly no longer so easily accessible. Agreements between colleagues have become more difficult, which can also affect team relations in the long term. Therefore, this project aims to improve the quality of communication and relationships in hybrid teams, which may have been affected due to the lack of on-site collaboration during the Covid-19 pandemic. To achieve this goal, the web-based assessment tool "Flex-Team" is developed. This tool is based on a questionnaire that is completed by all members of the team. The aggregated team data is finally compared with other teams. This gives the work teams feedback on their own communication strategies compared to other teams and helps them to better understand their strengths and weaknesses. Based on these results, the team can then jointly derive improvement measures. The tool supports the development of the measures and guides through this team development process. Within the scope of this project, Flex-Team will also be validated in three Lower Austrian organizations. This will ensure the immediate benefit.
This project is supported by the Projektfonds Arbeit 4.0 of the Chamber of Labor of Lower Austria