Blogs by InnovatorsBox®

Five ways you can build effective hybrid workplace

While the future of work remains unknown, it’s unclear when we’ll be back to the office (the way we used to know it), and when exactly we will leave behind these masks, we can be sure that hybrid workplaces are here to stay. We’re in a defining moment of our careers, our work cultures, and the internet is a prominent place to be. And now, more than ever, it’s time for all of us to hone and practice our crafts to balance how to work effectively and thoughtfully online.

One lesson we learned in the year is that just simply staying busy with a big task list in front of us will lead us to quick burnout. Unlike the beginning of the pandemic when the pivots felt knee jerking, the hybrid and remote work experience has become embedded into our lives, and they can be designed with more thoughtfulness and care. But as time passes, are things feeling trickier? It’s no longer just about setting up the home office! How do we balance staying effective and not feeling isolated? How can we stay focused when there are so many distractions around us? Our bed is still just around the corner. For many, kids and fur-babies implore our surroundings. Netflix is calling and no one is watching. What do we do?

You’re not alone. Just like you are, a lot of our clients have also expressed that they are worried. Worried that people are not feeling connected. Worried that culture is harder to develop online than in-person. Worried that people don’t seem to know how to work effectively while remote. Or in other cases, working too much in survival mode and not being able to balance and set boundaries. As a leader, it’s key to set an example of how you can model being an effective team player, an empathetic leader, and also someone who can balance well-being and stress.

As many of you know, I’m a huge advocate for creating an environment that is both productive and sustainable. This is not just about your physical office space – it’s also about your mental well-being as well as how much time you spend in front of screens vs with friends/family.

In this blog post, we’ll explore five practices to help you create a workplace that welcomes the new way of working, build efficiencies while maintaining boundaries between our professional and personal lives, and allowing the shift in the way we work without jeopardising the work culture. 

Provide Clarity in How Things Are Done (in Everything)

Clear structures at work will help people feel less stressed and let them use their energy to accomplish more. If you’re not sure where your next step is, take a breath! It’s time for clarity in how decisions are made, processes are held, and how collaboration happens so that it becomes easier to make decisions without feeling lost and overworked.

From proposal writing, running a project to leading a meeting, clear structures and processes can help the team do their job without feeling like they are drowning. Without such clarity in processes, it becomes increasingly difficult to make decisions, prioritize tasks, collaborate with coworkers, etc. Clear structures – from where we save a file to who to go to ask a question –will set an easy-to-follow course. And you know that your team won’t be spending time seeking guidance and information from widely dispersed places and people when there are deadlines looming around the corner.

Make Team building A Regular Thing

In the same way that it’s essential to have a healthy diet, you also need to regularly build up on your social and team muscles, especially if you’re leading a remote team.

Set a regular touch point where people get to see each other to purposely get to know each other. Setting an intentional monthly or quarterly meeting where team members get to know each other’s projects, or where they hangout, network and do an activity together would remind everyone of the bigger team who’re collectively working on the same mission! Intentional design will help recreate the feeling of how we could bump into new colleagues – one that we’re all missing out while working at home. This will open us up to new perspectives. 

How do we do this? You have a lot of options. One would be to bring everyone together for an offsite event where the whole group can work together in one place and learn from each other while also having fun. Another option is to take advantage of regular get-togethers that your company organizes, like monthly lunch meetings or Friday afternoon get-togethers in the office. You could also set up ad-hoc sessions with colleagues who need help with the projects they’re working on, or for those who want to collaborate on something else.

It’s important to encourage such interactions by setting clear expectations in how meetings are scheduled as well as handling pre-meeting communications intentionally.

Ask what your people want

Taking the time to ask your people what they want, need or desire will help you identify their needs and how to keep them feeling productive. The new work environment is not the same as the old one, and teams may prefer to change how they interact with each other, given changing circumstances. There is not a single “right way” of doing it. Find what works for you. The options are far too many, and getting your team involved in this decision-making process will be key. From 100% remote to only having set days where you show up to work, from remote work and periodical team huddles to setting work flex days – ask what your team wants and listen. Don’t assume people want to come to the office or force them to. 

Having space to be creative and focused is important. You want people to do work in ways that they are their most productive, not in the ways that make them feel comfortable being around colleagues and/or management.

Help People Grow, And Help Them See How They Can See Themselves Growing Here

What do you have in mind when thinking of helping your team grow? How would they grow at your company, through the work that is done or by developing themselves personally and professionally? This is an important question to ponder.

We all want to be a better version of ourselves. How is working in this business, department, or team – whether online or offline – going to help your people grow into who they strive to become? What are the projects they will be involved in that they will enjoy doing, learn from, and acquire new skills? How will they grow professionally? How will it help them grow personally?

What are growth opportunities you are providing? Do you have personal development programs, courses, or communities that can help your people develop intrinsically as well as in their careers? How do you support them in developing their current skill sets, and how are you nurturing new skills? Are there opportunities for people to find mentors and/or coaches – someone who they could learn from?

Similarly, it’s also important to be sure to give people responsibilities or opportunities to continue their growth goals. It could be helping them find a leadership role within your group, such as leading a small team on a specific project, which then opens new opportunities for them to learn more about how to manage their time well, delegate tasks effectively and mentor others. Alternatively, it could be giving employees an opportunity to attend training courses outside of work through different learning institutions like Skillshare, LinkedIn Learning, Masterclass, Udemy, and many more. Beyond meeting personal goals, this can help draw connections between what people feel they should be doing with their careers.

Keep Team’s Overall Well-Being at the Crux of Your Priorities  

A good company should also keep the well-being of their team at the crux of their operations. You want to give people the space and encouragement they need so that they don’t feel stressed out. Apart from working remotely, it is essential to make sure that your employees are happy at work through initiatives such as flexible hours, healthy lunches or working in a non-competitive environment with a clear sense of purpose and/or meaning behind their day-to-day tasks. 

In addition, you can help them feel like part of an extended family by organizing activities to get everyone working on the same page as well as encourage relationships and friendships between colleagues who may not know each other very well yet. This will have opportunities to develop bonds over similar interests and hobbies, as well as develop their knowledge on a wider level.

Hybrid workplaces sound like an interesting concept as they provide employees with the opportunity to work on their own terms and yet still feel connected to a company in a way that suits them. The good thing about hybrid workplaces is that you can design them around your culture and values, providing an opportunity to be creative and stay healthy while still maximizing productivity.

A well-designed hybrid workplace will help people grow whether it’s through their work or growth personally. To ensure that this is happening, employers need to make sure that their employees are supported through initiatives such as flexible hours, good well-being programs, building a culture that fosters teamwork and collaboration, and provides safe space. Employees should also be given responsibilities or opportunities for growth outside of work.

About the Author

Picture of Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang

Monica H. Kang, Founder, and CEO of InnovatorsBox® and Author of Rethink Creativity is transforming today’s workforce through the power of creativity. She helps companies rethink culture, leadership, and team development by making creativity practical and relatable regardless of industry or job title. She has worked with clients worldwide including Fortune 500 companies, higher education, government, and nonprofits. Monica’s work has been recognized by The White House, Ashoka Changemakers, National Minority Supplier Development Council (NMSDC), and Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC). Prior to InnovatorsBox®, Monica was a nuclear nonproliferation policy expert. She holds an M.A. from SAIS Johns Hopkins University in Strategic Studies and International Economics and a B.A. from Boston University.

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