Unsaid Expectations in Hybrid or Remote Teams

Expectations are often conveyed subtly. Hybrid and virtual teams lack the indirect communication that carry these gently-stated expectations, informal feedback, and social rewards and punishments. Formal structures like meetings and one-on-ones are often contain only direct communication. Because we want to be respectful of time, focus, and Zoom-burnout, we manage remote employees use tools such as agendas and short/direct emails. Unfortunately, these tools often diminish our communication of subtle interchange elements. To be effective in a hybrid environment, we have to identify clearly what we want to communicate before we do so.


Reflect on your discussions with in-person team members as compared to virtual or remote team members.


  • What have you said to the in-person members about accomplishment, success and failure, direction, etc. when the virtual members were not present?

  • What thoughts have you had about these topics that you have not put into a formal meeting?

  • What topics come up in informal in-person conversations that have not been addressed in a formal meeting? Who else needs to know these?

  • What emotional words or statements have crossed your mind but you have not actually said?

  • What feedback or reactions have you had to the work product of virtual members that you have not put into words? Would you provide this feedback to an in-person member, and if so in what setting and manner?


Imagine yourself in the shoes of each of your remote employees.


  • How does the lack of communication affect the performance of work?

  • How does the lack of communication affect each members’ connections to others?

  • What kind of self-directed thoughts might each member be having about his or her work?

  • Are these experiences different from in-person members of the group?