We are all getting accustomed to an ever-changing work world. One day leaders are being asked to commit to a routine of a few days in-person office work and then the next week they are being asked to work completely remotely. Announcements of how and where they should be working often happen at the very last minute. These weekly or even daily changes can cause an incredible amount of uncertainty in our jobs as well as our personal lives. Many leaders are wondering how to navigate these constant pivots without impacting their workflow.
One thing is for sure- our hybrid workplaces can be very challenging to navigate. Some of the frustrations I’ve heard include:
“This is such a confusing work schedule and impossible to plan for.”
“I am feeling so isolated from my team members.”
“Virtual brainstorming is so challenging. I have such a hard time sharing my ideas with the group.”
Recently, Microsoft conducted a global employee survey about the best way to thrive in a hybrid work environment. In this report they cited impactful ways that they have found worked for their teams in hybrid workplaces. Most importantly, it is critical to create a culture of trust and flexibility.
Five Insights To Fortifying Our Hybrid Workplaces
1. Power of Inclusion
Teams are made up of many different personalities, backgrounds and work styles. The most successful and high performing teams stay openminded and welcome different perspectives. The truth is that there is no personality or work style that is better than any other. The key is to identify an individual team member’s style and understand how it might be different from yours. Then, take time to flex to the best way they can receive information and make decisions. Don’t automatically assume your way of working is the only direction to go.
2. Manager Support Matters
Don’t underestimate the importance of a manager’s support in a hybrid team. Managers need to lead by modeling how they want their teams to work. Especially when team members are working remotely, it is important for managers to:
- Be clear on their expectations.
- Reach out with concerns or areas that team members are not fulfilling goals.
- Be overly kind with expressing praise and gratitude.
3. Understand The Paradox of Flexibility and The Need To Connect In-Person
This paradox is impacting everyone on some level. One big takeaway from this pandemic is that from senior leadership to entry level leaders, there is a strong need for flexibility in our jobs. Whether it is due to balancing a family, an illness or even a focusing challenge, team members are multi-faceted human beings. Spending our entire lives in a workspace outside our homes may be over. On the other hand of the paradox, leaders are social beings and sometimes need to have face-to-face interactions with their colleagues. So perhaps, the future of work will be a hybrid balance between in-person and remote work. If there is a need for collaboration and brainstorming, it might be best to head to the office to meet face-to-face. Other days we may find our work performance higher WFH (working from home). The key is for organizations to be flexible.
4. Employees Want Different Things
Another fascinating piece to hybrid workplaces is that each person is unique in what they want out of their careers. Organizations are made up of human beings with different strengths and blind spots. What excites one person may end up being overwhelming for another. Leaders will create higher performing and happier hybrid work teams if they understand the true needs of others.
5. One-On-One Coaching Is Essential
According to the Microsoft report: “A one-on-one conversation between manager and employee creates trust, allows a shared understanding, and empowers people to embrace their own versions of flexible, hybrid work.” It is up to each team leader to reach out to their colleagues and ask some critical questions:
- What 2 words would describe how you are feeling today?
- How would you like the balance of WFH and in-person to look?
- How can I best support your work style?
How are you fortifying your hybrid workplaces to run smoothly?