5 Minute Read

Belonging and Psychological Safety Are the Keys to Healthy Hybrid Teams

By Elisa van Dam
September 28, 2022
smiling woman at laptop


For knowledge workers, the future is indeed hybrid. In our spring 2022 research survey we wanted to understand what makes a healthy team environment when team members don’t see each other at the office every day. Read on for our top findings!

It all starts with psychological safety and belonging 

We asked respondents, “What did your manager do to create a healthy team environment?” Two factors rose to the top: “Made it safe for people to take risks” and “Helped people feel they belong.” These findings support the critical need for psychological safety and belonging in all teams (for more on belonging, see our research report The Importance of Belonging in the Workplace).

So what does that mean? Here are our top findings:

  • Healthy teams benefit the organization: According to our respondents, when they are working in a healthy hybrid team, they are more productive, more effective, and more able to do their best work.
  • Flexibility in where and how work is done, effective communication, and interpersonal connection are the top qualities of healthy hybrid teams.
  • Teammates contribute to team health by communicating frequently and clearly: This is the most important behavior both for the survey respondents’ colleagues and for themselves.
  • A healthy team environment also benefits the individual: Our respondents reported that when they work in a healthy hybrid team, they are more engaged, happier, and feel better about where they work
  • Most survey respondents say their team is healthy: 81% of our respondents characterize their team as very (30%) or somewhat (51%) healthy.

Top tips for fostering a healthy hybrid team

Based on our survey results, here are our top recommendations for supporting a healthy team environment in a hybrid workplace:

  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: The most important behavior for fostering healthy hybrid teams is communication. This is true for individuals, managers, and organizations. Take advantage of all of the technology-enabled communication mechanisms, as well as meeting in person when possible.
  • Focus on psychological safety: Ensure that all team members can be heard, can make mistakes, and can raise concerns and unpopular opinions without fear of retaliation or ridicule.
  • Acknowledge and learn from those who have been working this way for years: Several of our respondents noted that they have been working on hybrid teams for many years. These groups provide helpful role models that organizations can tap for best practices that work in their specific context.
  • Intentionally create belonging: Our top tips for managers on how to foster belonging include making sure employees feel valued and being intentional about who is included in conversations, decisions, and social events. Much more information can be found in the report, The Importance of Belonging in the Workplace.

You’ll find much more information and additional tools in our report, Healthy Teams in a Hybrid Workplace.