If you are part of the knowledge economy, work for a corporate, and your role requires you to work on your desk all day, it is highly likely that post-pandemic, you will find yourself in a hybrid model of work, i.e., a combination of in-person and remote work model. A large number of employees cherish the flexibility of being able to work remotely. At the same time, working together in a physical office fosters collaboration and team building which are the keys to success. Technical capabilities to perform a task related to a specific job are the basic requirements of a role. They are necessary but not sufficient to be effective. If you are a manager, have you thought about what will help you succeed in a hybrid workplace when the teams are distributed? Here are a few things to keep in mind –
Fostering connection – According to Gallup, employees who report having a close friend at work are seven times more likely to be engaged in their jobs. To ensure that relationships remain at the heart of the work experience will be a big challenge in the hybrid world. When teams are distributed, the human connections need to be stronger to forge cohesiveness and productivity. Simple steps, e.g., making time for small talk, starting meetings with round robins so that everyone’s’ perspective is put forth, can mean a lot. Fostering deep relationships when the majority of communications are being channeled through mails, phones, and video chats, is important. We train ourselves to put our best foot forward when using these channels. The key is to put our authentic, courageous, vulnerable, empathetic, and compassionate selves forward and be reliable, relatable, and approachable to our teams.
Managers need to lead by example. Their behavior will leave cues for team members to follow.
Fostering clarity – The success of the team requires clarity in everyday communication. While the hybrid setup is all about flexibility, there may need to be more protocols about what is communicated through which channel. In the absence of these protocols, multiple communication channels used randomly can cause confusion, rework, and delays, not to mention fatigue and frustration. For example, conveying via email that the team needs to huddle up in 30 minutes may not work due to the asynchronous nature of the hybrid work model.
Managers also need to provide clarity on what success looks like. You need to ensure that everyone in the team is moving in the same direction. You need to build a culture that encourages team members to ask questions. You need to share clear information and context, so they can be productive rather than confused and stressed, trying to fill in the blanks, or having to redo things often. A crisis of communication can frustrate and distract employees. Under stress, people are less willing to trust, listen, cooperate, and share information. Success depends on clarity, intentionality, and openness in communication.
Fostering well-being – Technology allowed businesses to keep the lights on during the pandemic. It will continue to drive the future of work, however, the increasing reliance on it has led to the pressure to be always on. We were troubled by FOMO even before the pandemic. If we are not careful, the pressure to be always available to cater to the demands of work can wreak havoc on employee health and well-being. Here is how managers can create a humane organization –
– Do not multi-task. Set the example, your teams will follow you
– Do not schedule back-to-back calls
– Stick to the timelines of the meeting
– Only invite people necessary for the meeting
– Take frequent breaks to reset. Even a 90-second break helps
– Stop glorifying busy. Respect your own and your team members’ time away from work. Remember, you are more productive if you are well-rested.