The recent pandemic has undoubtedly brought about a permanent shift in the way we work in office environments. Gone are the days when everyone commuted together to work every day. Instead, we find ourselves in a hybrid work setting, where some team members rarely meet in person, while others have the opportunity to see each other one or two days a week, all while not working remotely from their home offices.
This transformation poses a significant challenge for business owners and leaders, as it raises concerns and fears for all those involved. How will work productivity and quality be affected? What impact will it have on personal careers, job satisfaction, and work-life balance? As a business coach, I understand the struggle to anticipate and find answers to these questions, just like you.
In this context, I am delighted to have come across a valuable resource: “Thrive With A Hybrid Workplace” by Felice Ekelman and Julie Kantor. In this book, the authors provide insightful guidance from real experts. Allow me to summarise their seven recommendations for navigating this new work environment, while also sharing my own perspective:
- Culture – Foster a culture that bridges the gap between the office and remote work. Clearly define and communicate your values and mission, while also respecting the personal values of each team member. Empower both local and remote employees to make decisions and meet deliverables independently. Additionally, prioritise work-life balance for all team members.
- Change – Approach the journey of change with a unified process. Recognise that any change can be challenging and ensure that the process applies equally to both local and remote team members. Avoid micromanagement and overcompensation, establish clear roles and responsibilities, and minimize unnecessary meetings. Take incremental steps toward the hybrid work process.
- Connection – Foster strong interpersonal connections with each team member. In hybrid work environments, it’s crucial for leaders to schedule regular office hours and conduct virtual and live interactions. Encourage team rituals and facilitate networking opportunities. Implement mentorship programs and organize positive team-building activities both on and off-site.
- Communication – Demonstrate intentional and consistent communication. Clear and consistent communication is essential for building trust among team members and with leaders. Recognise that team members cannot read your mind when they are shifting between in-office and remote work. Be proactive in considering time factors in advance.
- Collaboration – Facilitate hybrid action meetings. Redefine and standardise modes of collaboration. Utilise shared-document platforms, in-house messaging systems, and online whiteboards to maximize information sharing and minimise miscommunication. Schedule video meetings thoughtfully to avoid wasting time.
- Compassion – Show care for each team member. Sharing someone else’s emotions requires active listening and making them feel heard. Actively inquire about their concerns without being critical. Respond to mistakes in a calm and respectful manner, and provide support to prevent physical and mental burnout.
- Coaching – Practice active listening and provide feedback. Every team member desires growth and views their job as an opportunity for development, regardless of whether they work locally or remotely. Be accessible to them on both planned and unplanned occasions. Help them set goals and provide the necessary resources and access to training.
We all recognise the importance of engaged employees, but it is not enough to maximise growth and thrive in a world of global competition and constant change. To achieve individual and company-wide success, it is crucial to become an employer of choice, attracting and retaining the right employees while maximising productivity. Start adapting to this change today, acknowledging that you are already behind.