Leadership in Action – How to Prevent In and Out Groups when Half of Your Team is Out of the Office

man in blue long sleeve shirt using black laptop computer

One of the most culturally destructive artifacts within organizations is the formation of “in groups” and “out groups.” In the emerging space of the hybrid workplace, as leaders we have an increased level of concern – and accountability – to prevent these situations.

In group/out group dynamics is where a select set of individuals appear favored by you, the leader. It can also happen within the space of office politics. The out group tends to then feel ignored and marginalized as a result. Opportunities and advancement tend to favor the “in group.”

As we lead a hybrid workplace, we need to be sure that the opportunities and advancement are based on merit and not based on who you may physically see the most. While you want to create opportunities for collaboration in a variety of ways, setting up the right structure for hybrid meetings becomes important. In the past, when one or two people were off-site during a meeting, we would all be in the meeting room. The speaker phone would be on so that those off-site folks could join the conversation. We understood that they were at a disadvantage for participation. Thanks to the pandemic, we are more experienced with video conferencing utilizing software like Zoom and Teams. We now have better choices.

When you have your team meetings that include both in-office and off-site team members, hold the meeting with everyone logged in using their own screen. This creates a more balanced opportunity for full discussion and conversation. Everyone connects to the meeting in the same way, and all enjoy the same advantages.

As you start to bring back the office pools, birthday celebrations and other social events, work to schedule them around times when more people are in the office. If having regular “all hands” days at the office is not possible, work to be sure that these informal social gatherings are inclusive of all members of your team.

As you work to lead in this new hybrid workplace, focus on Nurturing Growth as you role-model inclusion. You will be well on your way to efficient and effective teamwork.