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Durham University

Organisation Development

Communication: Engaging individuals and teams

Blended/hybrid teams require a special focus on communication as balancing workplace and remote working obstacles can be challenging for all involved.

To ensure everyone has the information they need to perform well we need to pay particular attention to open lines for feedback and troubleshooting, as well as celebrating success. Thinking about the continued use of technologies (Teams/Zoom), in facilitating team meetings, one-to-ones and informal catch ups.

In supporting and enabling your blended/hybrid team communication you will require a special focus to ensure that everyone within the team has the information they need to perform, as well as open lines for feedback, troubleshooting, celebrating success and discussing pain points. Connecting and communicating is tethered to psychological safety and trust. There are some actions that can help in building trust as well as strong sustainable relationships:

  • If you want people to trust you, you need to demonstrate trust in them. Feeling confident about being open and honest is important.
  • Being well informed will ensure your credibility, as will checking understanding of what has been shared and agreed on (Check-in Conversation Prompt could help here).
  • Listening to understand will demonstrate that you want to know. Careful listening will encourage openness and honesty.
  • Admit when you don’t know or make a mistake. Making mistakes is part of being human, we all make them and trying to project the perfect ‘super person’ image all the time will damage you and the opportunity to learn and grow.
  • Valuing relationships and showing that you do is vital in maintaining trust. Set time aside to share positive feedback and say thank you (Reward/Recognition Conversation Prompt could help here)


The Conversation Compass

Read through the following eBooks which are available within Durham University eLibrary (Bookboon): Psychologically Safe workplaces: Utopia Revisted, Communicating With Empathy and Leading Virtual Teams.

Many of us have rapidly got to grips with a variety of new technology: video calls via Zoom and Teams, collaborating and using many office 365 products etc. This has been great, as it has provided a designated online space to chat, host video meetings and share documents. But do all your team know how to get the best from the resources available? Is there a Digital Champion in your team, if not there is also a Digital remote working channel on the Help Us Help You Teams.

Some quick top tips:

  • Set up specific ‘channels’ within your Microsoft Team, specifically focusing on areas such as ‘Digital skills’, enabling knowledge and skills to be shared or ‘Social chat’, facilitating informal ‘water cooler’ conversations about kids, hobbies, pets and catch ups.
  • If your usual check-in colleagues are not in your direct work team use the ‘Chat’ function in Microsoft Teams (remember this doesn’t have to be with just one person, ‘Chat’ can happen amongst a group too!)
  • Common Room is a channel within the Help Us Help You Team. It is a space for any colleague in Durham to chat and support one another. All users have the ability to add, like and interact with posts. Every fortnight the staff network hold an informal staff network group chat on Microsoft Teams, contact When posting specific update information on your Microsoft Team, ask colleagues to acknowledge they have read the information by using the ‘like’ emoji. It will help you to follow and make sure everyone has seen the same information.


Read through the following eBooks which are available within Durham University eLibrary (Bookboon): Communicating with Technology and Leading Virtual Teams.

To support meetings in a blended/hybrid team there are things that all team members can do.

For colleagues still working remotely:

  • A meeting buddy, who is based in the office, can help to make sure everything is set up.
  • If your internet is liable to fail during meetings, turning your video off can help (but try to at least turn it on to say ‘hi’ at the start).
  • It’s more tiring to attend meetings virtually, with virtual meetings often being longer, ensure breaks are scheduled in and avoid filling your day with virtual meetings back to back.

For colleagues in the workplace/office based:

  • Use video calls rather than phone where possible and start the meeting with cameras on.
  • Book the room 15 minutes before the meeting is due to start to give yourself time to set up and test the equipment. But also have a back-up plan! (such as a dial-in number)
  • Have a lead facilitator, and a second facilitator. They can ensure remote participants are able to participate equally and to respond to any tech problems.
  • At the end gather regular feedback from remote workers on what you could be doing better.


Read through the following eBooks which are available within Durham University eLibrary (Bookboon): Leading Virtual Teams and Virtual Team Effiectiveness.