Future of work

How to adapt to a hybrid workplace

If you’ve been following the developments about the future of work, you’ve probably come across the term hybrid work. Since moving into our home offices during the pandemic, many of us realized the benefits of remote working and the flexibility that it can bring. Some of us even feel so strongly about working from home that we would rather quit our jobs than go back to the office full-time.

But how do you make the switch from everyone in the office, to everyone in home office, and now a mix of both? Or, if you’re already working hybrid, how do you make the transition as smooth as possible? Keep reading for our tips on how to adapt to the new way of working.

(If you want to know what hybrid work is, check out our blog post on the topic).

Be open with your team about hybrid work and get feedback

The first step of adapting to hybrid work would be to discuss hybrid working with your team. The most important thing to discuss is why you’re going hybrid and what the benefits are. Your team needs to be on the same wavelength so that there’s no radical resistance to hybrid working. Once you have everyone on board, it’s important to establish good feedback channels. Efficient feedback channels mean that your team can provide input concerning what they like and don’t like about the hybrid work model. 

Survey tools such as 15Five and OfficeVibe are a simple and intuitive way to gain feedback from colleagues. Scheduling a weekly survey can help you to improve your hybrid work model over time to suit your colleagues’ needs. Voice messaging can also be a powerful way for team members to send feedback. Through voice messaging, team members can easily share ‘in the moment’ thoughts without having to painfully type them out.

Establish clear guidelines for video meetings

You probably don’t need to be told that video meetings are not the easiest way to communicate with your team. Video calls take time to schedule and easily go over their agreed time frame. They even disrupt our focus time. In fact, it takes more than 25 minutes after a video meeting for someone to return to the level of concentration they had prior to it. Furthermore, spending too much time in video meetings can result in so-called ‘Zoom fatigue’, a phenomenon documented by Stanford researchers. 

One way to make sure video calls don’t become a burden is to establish clear guidelines on how many video meetings take place and how long they last. This can be done by reserving video calls only for when they would be most beneficial. Video conferencing is great when used for topics that need to be explored thoroughly and have immediate input from participants. But most of us can probably agree that not every discussion needs to happen live on camera.

Adopt asynchronous communication as an alternative to video calls

One compelling option for easing the burden of back-to-back video conferencing is adopting asynchronous communication. There is no doubt that when team members are distributed and working from home, it’s crucial to implement proper communication channels that can bridge the location gap and keep all team members on the same page. But being live on camera is not the only way to achieve this goal. 

Asynchronous communication, or communication that doesn’t happen in real time, is an ideal addition to the workplace communication tech stack for distributed teams. Asynchronous messages can be sent from anywhere, as well as received from anywhere. An added benefit is that asynchronous communication eliminates the need for scheduling catch-ups.

Asynchronous communication is especially helpful for quickly updating colleagues. Threads in work messaging platforms can be used to instantly post updates to the whole team. They leave a log of changes that can be accessed later and let teams leave comments on these changes. Leaving comments and tagging colleagues can be a good way to draw their attention to alterations, or to explain them. Voice messaging is also an incredibly useful asynchronous communication tool because it lets you send personal messages without scheduling a meeting, even when you’re working remote. Voice messaging can be used as an alternative to video calls for daily stand-ups and check-ins with team members, since it’s fast and still quite personal.

Use asynchronous communication for planning and collaborating

Collaborating with team members and planning projects doesn’t always have to be done in real-time. Asynchronous communication also works well for distance collaboration and for planning out tasks with your team. 

Collaboration platforms such as Google Docs can be useful for editing shared team documents either live together or at different times. They allow group collaboration to occur between distributed team members, without everyone needing to continuously attend back-to-back video meetings.

Planning calendars and project management portals are also great asynchronous communication tools for managing tasks and projects. With such tools, everyone in the team is aware of what their co-workers are currently working on. Each team member can also track the progress of current projects.

Take Away

Workers want a hybrid model more than ever. In order to adjust we need to bring our communication methods and the tools that we use in line with this new future of work. It’s important to make sure that all our team members are included and able to effectively collaborate from wherever they’re working.

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