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7 Tactics for Creating a Culture of Psychological Safety in a Hybrid Team

In the contemporary workspace, the emergence of hybrid teams – a blend of remote and in-office employees – marks a significant shift in organizational dynamics. This arrangement offers unparalleled flexibility and a real opportunity to allow more diversity of thought and experience to flourish. However, it also introduces complex challenges, particularly in nurturing an environment of psychological safety. 

This concept, essential for a thriving work culture, involves creating a space where team members feel comfortable and safe to express their thoughts and ideas, and take risks without fear of negative consequences. According to McKinsey research, 89% of employees deem psychological safety to be an essential component of any business. And this echoes Google’s comprehensive study which found that psychological safety is the most important dynamic in building successful teams. But in a hybrid environment, it can be tough to foster these environments given the changeable nature of this style.

This article offers seven comprehensive tactics for team leaders and managers to foster psychological safety in their hybrid teams.

Psychological safety

Tactic 1: Establish Clear Communication Channels

Effective communication acts as the lifeblood of hybrid teams, bridging the physical and digital divide. In such teams, the absence of consistent face-to-face interactions can lead to misunderstandings and a sense of isolation. To combat this, it’s crucial to establish robust communication channels that promote transparency and inclusivity. Ensuring that all team members, regardless of their location, feel connected and informed, is key to maintaining team cohesion and trust. 

Pro tips:

  • Regular Virtual Check-ins: Implement a routine of daily or weekly virtual meetings. Use these sessions not just for project updates but also for casual interactions and team building.
  • Diverse Communication Tools: Utilize various tools for different communication needs. For example, instant messaging for quick queries, video calls for more in-depth discussions, and collaborative platforms for project management.
  • Inclusive Meeting Practices: Ensure remote employees are equally heard in meetings. Use round-robin techniques to give everyone a chance to speak, and consider rotating meeting times to accommodate different time zones.

As Jason Lauritsen and Linda Jonas, SocialTalent’s resident hybrid work experts, state: “uncertainty kills engagement.” Clear communication builds an atmosphere of trust and accountability that’s essential for psychological safety to thrive.

Learn more: 9 Ways to Communicate as a Leader of Hybrid Teams

Tactic 2: Lead by Example

In any team, leaders are not just managers but role models. Their behavior, attitude, and communication style are closely observed and often emulated by team members. This is particularly true in a hybrid setting where direct interactions are less frequent, making every action and communication from the leader that bit more impactful. Leaders who demonstrate openness, admit their own mistakes, and show genuine interest in their team’s ideas and well-being can create a ripple effect, leading to a more open and trusting team culture.

Pro tips:

  • Personal Anecdotes: Regularly share stories of your own mistakes and lessons learned. This humanizes you and shows that errors are part of the learning process.
  • Encouraging Curiosity: Create an environment where asking questions is encouraged. This not only fosters learning but also opens the floor for innovative ideas.

Renowned CPO, Pat Wadors, was a speaker at our SocialTalent Live event and she reiterated the importance of this. Taking accountability and sharing mistakes allowed her direct reports to mirror this skill and feel comfortable to do the same. The vulnerability created a more trusting, high-performing team. As Pat said: “We made less, bigger mistakes because we shared more in the moment. I think that’s a huge gift. And mental health wise, oh my goodness, not having to be perfect anymore. I am so much happier!

Learn more: The Vital Role of Leadership in Today’s Workplace

Tactic 3: Foster a Non-Judgmental Environment

The fear of being judged or ridiculed can significantly stifle creativity and openness in team members. In a hybrid team, where physical cues are missing, and digital communication can often be misinterpreted, it becomes even more crucial to consciously cultivate an environment that is accepting and respectful. Creating such a space encourages team members to share their unique perspectives and ideas, which are vital for innovation and problem-solving.

Pro tips:

  • Active Listening: Show genuine interest in what others have to say. This involves not just hearing but understanding their perspective.
  • Constructive Feedback: Frame feedback in a way that focuses on improvement and learning, rather than criticism.

According to Gallup, as many as 23% of employees have experienced some form of discrimination in the workplace. Hybrid work can conceal a lot of issues, so ensuring your space is psychologically safe can help ensure everyone feels comfortable to be themselves.

Psychological safety

Tactic 4: Recognize and Celebrate Contributions

Recognition and appreciation are powerful motivators. They validate an individual’s efforts and contributions, fostering a sense of belonging and worth. In a hybrid team, where remote members might sometimes feel invisible or less appreciated, it’s especially important to acknowledge and celebrate both individual and team achievements regularly. This not only boosts morale but also reinforces the value each member brings to the team.

Pro tips:

  • Public Acknowledgment: Use team meetings to highlight individual and team achievements. This not only boosts the morale of the recognized employee but also sets a positive example for others.
  • Personalized Recognition: Understand what form of recognition each team member prefers. Some might appreciate public acknowledgment, while others might prefer a personal note.

Tactic 5: Encourage Professional Development

In an era of rapid technological and business advancements, continuous learning and skill development are crucial. By prioritizing professional development, leaders can demonstrate their commitment to their team’s growth and career progression. This not only helps in retaining talent but also ensures the team stays competent and competitive. In a hybrid setting, offering diverse and flexible learning opportunities becomes even more important to accommodate the varying schedules and locations of team members.

Pro tips:

  • Development Plans: Work with each team member to create personalized development plans. This could include skill-building, leadership training, or pursuing further education.
  • Mentorship Programs: Establish online mentorship programs where experienced employees can guide newer ones, fostering a culture of learning and knowledge sharing.

Learn more: 6 Ways to Build a Culture of Learning

Tactic 6: Prioritize Well-being

The well-being of team members is not just a personal concern but a business imperative. Teams that are mentally and physically healthy are more engaged, creative, and productive. In hybrid teams, the blurring lines between work and personal life can often lead to burnout and stress. Thus, prioritizing and actively supporting the well-being of each team member is essential in creating a psychologically safe and high-performing team.

Pro tips:

  • Mental Health Resources: Provide access to mental health resources, such as counseling services or stress management workshops.
  • Work-Life Balance: Encourage practices that promote a healthy work-life balance. This can include flexible working hours, respecting off-hours, and encouraging regular breaks.
  • Show Empathy: Empathy is a muscle and leaders need to lean into this to understand their teams and direct reports.

We recently spoke with Acacium Group CPO, Sara Andrews, about well-being in the workplace and she made the point that wellness looks different to every employee, and managers need to understand and recognize this. It’s not a one-size-fits-all situation.

Tactic 7: Implement Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Training

Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) are foundational pillars for any thriving, modern organization. Diverse teams bring a multitude of perspectives, experiences, and skills, leading to more innovative and well-rounded decision-making. However, the benefits of diversity can only be fully realized in an environment where every team member feels valued and included. This is where DEI training plays a crucial role. Such training helps in recognizing and addressing unconscious biases, promoting equitable practices, and fostering an inclusive culture where all team members feel safe and encouraged to express their unique selves. This is particularly important in hybrid teams where remote team members might feel disconnected or less visible. 

Pro tips:

  • Comprehensive DEI Training: Conduct regular, in-depth training sessions for all team members, focusing on understanding and valuing diversity, recognizing unconscious biases, and practicing inclusive communication.
  • Ongoing Conversations: Create platforms for open dialogue about diversity and inclusion. This could include discussion forums, dedicated channels in communication tools, or regular themed meetings.
  • Inclusive Policies and Practices: Review and update team policies to ensure they are equitable and inclusive. This includes equitable access to resources, opportunities for career advancement, and fair recognition practices for both remote and in-office team members.


Creating and maintaining a culture of psychological safety in a hybrid team requires thoughtful, consistent effort. It’s about building a work environment where respect, openness, and empathy are the norm. By implementing these seven tactics, leaders can pave the way for a more inclusive, innovative, and productive team. Such a culture not only benefits the organization in terms of performance and retention but also contributes significantly to the personal growth and satisfaction of each team member.

Looking to build more psychological safety into your organization? SocialTalent’s dedicated DEI Training can help you achieve this. Talk to our specialists today!

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