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Stay connected to your hybrid workforce: 4 tips

Hybrid work offers many benefits to both you and your employees. To illustrate, over 7 in 10 employees claim their work-life balance has improved. But as this new way of working enters its third year, the first cracks begin to show. And they’re not always clearly visible. Fading connection is a telling example of such a covert pitfall. Here are 4 ways to turn the tide.


    of European employees claim to feel more isolated and estranged from their corporate culture, according to research by SD Worx.

      #1 Prevent proximity bias

      With the rise of hybrid work, the term proximity bias is being thrown around a lot in management circles. But what does it mean? Well, it simply means that a company ensures that its employees - whether they work in the office or at home - are on equal footing in terms of responsibility and opportunity.

      By promoting hybrid equity, business leaders aim to avoid “proximity bias”- favouritism toward employees who come to the office over those who are remote. 

      To help you build a more desirable, inclusive and future-proof company, roll out one or more of the following practices in your organisation:

      • give recognition based on 360-degree performance feedback
      • be more transparent when decisions aren’t uniform
      • plan and structure communication strategies to be more inclusive and proactive
      • provide equal work benefits and opportunities
      • make full provision for working software for all your hybrid employees

        #2 Build Trust

        Trust has always been a powerful factor in the workplace but has now become a real game changer. According to a study by SD Worx, 23.8% of European employees claim to feel controlled and monitored by their managers whenever they telework. Without appropriate action, this can lead to a trust issue in the long run. 

        To effectively cultivate a high level of trust and secure its foundation, you need to:

        • empower your people to make decisions. You can add extra responsibilities to their job description and invite them to sit in meetings they don’t usually attend.
        • provide your employees with ample chances and the necessary information and tools to be constructive and successful.
        • encourage your staff to be their authentic selves by fostering an equal, inclusive and inspiring corporate culture.
        • be open to different experiences and motivate your employees to bring their ideas to the table
        • reward, and celebrate their small and big victories.
        • create a workplace where your staff are free to be creative, make mistakes, take risks, fail, succeed and express themselves.
        • give constructive feedback - try to avoid evaluations. Gently state the facts and the first instances, and let your employees work out the implications.
        • stimulate your team to aim for quality.

        When your people feel that you fully trust them and go the extra mile to help them thrive, you make huge strides toward fostering a workplace culture of trust. In turn, this will enhance connectedness within your organisation.

          #3 Keep making personal connections

          Personal connection is the heartbeat of any business and is key to creating a strong workplace culture. When your employees are divided between office and remote environments, you must keep them engaged by creating opportunities for more conversations within the routine. But how?

          • ask your team for feedback, as miscommunication is common in a hybrid work environment.
          • be responsive to your team’s needs and desires as soon as they happen. 
          • try to have a reinforced strategy in place, both in terms of frequency and communication method – communicating more frequently with your entire team, and each team member will create an environment of psychological safety.
          • catch up with each employee individually to ensure they understood the task – this way, everyone in the team feels comfortable voicing their concerns or asking questions at any time. 
          • make a point to regularly check in on your team members – schedule face-to-face time, whether digitally or in person. While e-mails and chatting are fine for simple yes-or-no questions, having face time will give you a moment of meaningful connection with proper eye contact. It may also help you see if your staff is struggling or getting burned out.
          • Lead your team with empathy – by putting yourself into your employees’ shoes, you can create a more authentic environment for your hybrid workers.
          • Listen carefully and learn and then listen some more – if you think you’re listening too much, it’s probably the perfect amount. 

          The fear of isolation is real in hybrid work environments, so the more personal connections you make, the easier it will be to bridge the gap between computer screens and success.

            #4 Engage in both virtual and physical team-building activities

            Team building is a powerful motivator. Strong relationships between co-workers definitely enhance productivity and collaboration. It’s easy to hold team-building activities in person, but what do you do when it comes to a hybrid workplace? 

            Fortunately, you can leverage creativity and technology to develop hybrid team-building exercises that your staff will fully enjoy and want to participate in. You can build rapport and learn more about your hybrid co-workers via distributed team-building events like live video work sessions, virtual volunteerism or informal “team time” or “coffee chats”. You can also hold regular ice-breaking meetings by

            • hosting a happy hour or team meal
            • planning fun activities
            • working out together
            • bringing in a coach for interactive and fun webinars

            With these team-building techniques, both virtual and physical, you can be sure to keep your hybrid workers feeling part of the team.

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                Nazia Keenoo

                Nazia Keenoo