Today, many of us are working in very different environments than two years ago. A lot of people are permanently working from home (“remote”). Others are going to the office a couple of days per week. Still others are doing the same job, at the same place, as they have always done (truck drivers, hospitality workers, factory and assembly plant personnel).
Learning to work in a new way can be stressful, but we are also living in a time when technology helps to bridge gaps. With video conferencing, we have face-to-face conversations with our coworkers and can easily share documents or files. While some of us might be in a shared space looking at the hard copy, others participate equally from remote locations looking at the same electronic document.
What Does Hybrid Mean?
Hybrid, therefore, means a blend of geographical working environments, facilitated by technology. But what does hybrid mean culturally or for our work processes?
Unfortunately, as “Zoom fatigue” is a real symptom of work burnout, we know that our hybrid work cultures must adapt. It is a very different atmosphere to welcome a new employee to your campus and to show him around the office building than it is to dive into work tasks as the new employee logs onto her first meeting. Trust, especially emotional trust, is critical to tackling higher risk tasks and projects. And, trust is hard to build in a hybrid culture.
Consider converting five minutes of each meeting to team-building. Use the time to create social relationships with your hybrid teams. Talk about sports, hobbies, or travel. You want to generate a culture that shares openly and will lead to trust. Sharing personal life interests alongside our professional engagements supports relationships among team members.
Our processes change in a hybrid work environment, too. We no longer have quick hallway conversations. Instead, we hold scheduled meetings and discussions (lots of them!). Hand-offs and transfers of tasks between functions and departments are more complicated, especially if the receiver does not have the appropriate project background (why, how, when). Shared files and chats can help to facilitate processes. Even better, document your workflows, roles and responsibilities, and follow the agreed-upon processes.
Creativity in a Hybrid World
While relationships, culture, and processes are manageable in remote and dispersed work environments, creativity becomes even more challenging. Again, tools are available for us to use technology, to share ideas, to capture concepts and activities, and to interact with fellow team members and customers. I recommend using a facilitator to help your team focus on the work instead of the ever-changing technology. A group like MAFN (Mid-Atlantic Facilitators Network) can help you find a skilled technical facilitator. In that way, you can capture creative ideas, without interrupting ideation.
Finally, our approaches to creativity in a hybrid world must take advantage of all we have learned to generate ideas within teams over the years – regardless of technology. Join me starting on 11 February for a special-request, three-part Creativity Master Class. Register here.
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