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Fixing communication in a hybrid world

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Post-pandemic, the working day looks a little different. It’s likely you’re now flexing your time between work and home — you may even have a new ‘rota’ in place. It’s fair to say what we would have called ‘working from home’ is very much outdated, and a new ‘hybrid working’ model has stepped in. But how does this work if you’re to ensure your team members are all on the same page, all heard, and all feeling like they’re valued just the same?

The pandemic has seen a huge shift in the way employers and employees view the world of work, with up to 53% of people now planning to divide their time between work and the office, while a few companies out there are leaving it solely up to staff as to where they’d prefer to be based. But for the majority of us, how is this hybrid set-up going to work long-term if we’re to ensure there’s no miscommunication among team members if we’re all not under the same roof? And exactly what should leadership teams be focussing on?

Feedback is key

It can be innocently overlooked, but let’s be honest, the majority of CEOs, HRDs, MDs etc are busy. Running at 100mph and relying on the people around them to be able to double as interpreters and anticipate their needs without having the time to provide clarity or context. Worse still, the big wigs are often the ones least likely to dish out praise, because they’re focusing their attention on big budgets, bigger ideas and striving for company-wide success.

Here lies the issue. Your team aren’t mind-readers. You also can’t expect your people to hone their communication skills between one another if it’s not being demonstrated from the top. If something isn’t done right, say it (constructively, if you’re planning to see productive results), and likewise if something is done well, show your appreciation. Particularly in a more remote world, you’re going to need to be more willing to give feedback if you want your team to feel encouraged, valued and to also ensure effective communication.

Understand the new mindset

The majority of people have been more isolated the past 18 months and, like it or not, are feeling more vulnerable. What may have been taken on the chin before, people might be more sensitive to now. Encourage your team to carry out a Myers Briggs test so you can decipher the introverts among your organisation, who might perhaps interpret communication differently. Hold regular 1-2-1s with people so you can prioritise their wellbeing and develop a deeper understanding of how to get the best out of them. You could even carry out a feedback survey. There’s plenty you can do, and be seen to be doing, that will encourage a positive response.

Define guidelines

The successful businesses of the future are those that are willing to be agile. In order to meet the needs of employees whilst maintaining the requirements of your organisation, the easiest way to begin is by determining how your new hybrid model looks, set out realistic expectations, and communicate this via multiple channels, from intranets to emails, your company handbook and verbally in reviews and 1-2-1s. Let your people know what’s expected of them, and what they can expect from you.

Separately, ensure those on the leadership team set their own guidelines for team management, including what praise looks like, the delivery of feedback, how often they need to keep in contact with remote workers, how meetings can be held across office/home workers where everyone is given a voice, and even how daily information is communicated.

If we are to embrace the hybrid work model, we must first be able to outline how this can work most efficiently for our team, and how to ensure a happy and productive workforce. Do you agree? Let me know by finding me on LinkedIn or Twitter .

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