Despite current uncertainties, one trend everyone recognizes is the rise in remote working.
What’s equally clear is that some employees will remain remote, even after offices reopen, while others may return to the office full time, creating a hybrid working model.
Although this evolving hybrid work paradigm comes with benefits, such as hiring the best talent regardless of their physical location, it also requires marketing leaders to build workplace culture in new ways. Here are five steps marketers can take to successfully reimagine and evolve their teams in a hybrid work paradigm.
Effectively Address Personal Safety
Getting the most from your team is directly related to how much they trust that you’re putting their wellbeing first. Whether for employees returning to the office during this pandemic, or for circumstances yet to come, you need to ensure that appropriate distancing and other personal safety strategies are enforced.
Here’s where technology can help.
Available innovations include contact and location tracing, where your Wi-Fi network monitors interactions, distancing and group sizes. In addition, your company can conduct advanced health monitoring via video, AI, or both, to proactively identify infected individuals.
Although your IT department will determine the specifics, those of us sitting at the executive table must take the lead in requesting and supporting technologies that boost employee confidence.
Establish Secure, Productive Digital Environments
We’re all familiar with the struggles that came with the sudden pandemic-induced work from home (WFH) transition. Some of the major challenges have included insufficient bandwidth and data security, for keeping everyone working productively while also safeguarding sensitive information.
Moving forward, it’s critical to tackle both.
This is another task for technology.
For a plug-and-play option, companies are distributing portable, palm-sized equipment that securely extends their corporate network to wherever an employee works. Known as a remote access point (RAP), such units enable plugging desktop devices and other gear, like a VoIP phone, to establish a secure connection and deliver the same overall experience as workers enjoy at the office. RAPs also enable wireless access by laptops or any other permitted mobile device.
The benefit of a RAP is eliminating the traditional VPN connection that typically has various experience and productivity disadvantages.
Adopt Robust Collaboration Tools and Spaces
Although video calls are now table stakes, marketers also require effective tools for instant messaging, document sharing, and project tracking.
Most effective are unified solutions that reduce fatigue from jumping between multiple tools and eliminate risks from improper document version control. Common collaboration platforms include Microsoft Teams and Slack, each of which help ensure everyone is on the same page as interpersonal communications occur and documents get created, edited and shared in real-time.
Additionally, re-think your conference and meeting spaces to ensure multiple off-site team members can effectively collaborate with those in the office. This could range from allocating more meeting rooms to installing larger-format displays that life-size all participants. Multiple displays in meeting rooms can even be configured to prevent remote team members from becoming tiny squares on a screen.
Build in Digital Downtime
With everyone experiencing some level of collaboration exhaustion, it’s your role to combat this inclination by authorizing and honoring, digital downtime.
Whether it’s an hour every day or a specific day of the week, meetings are banned and teams are tasked with using their time for brainstorming or doing other creative tasks. In other words, digital downtime doesn’t mean detaching from work. Instead, it’s about restructuring workdays to provide highly creative individuals with the space to do what marketers do best.
Do Oversee, Don’t Micromanage
We all have some self-directed superstars and others, especially younger individuals, who require regular interaction, mentoring, direction, and encouragement.
In the new hybrid work environment, consider which team members need thirty minutes of one-on-one mentoring every morning and which only need to chat weekly or monthly. Group sessions can also work, if the individuals are assertive enough to ensure each person receives the needed interaction.
Regardless, to prevent team members from disengaging, it’s critical that you actively solicit feedback and then listen and observe. In addition to traditional cues, modern group polling tools are increasingly common.
Especially effective are multiple-choice polls that include whimsical responses, such as “this is great, but let’s move on” or “help! I’m feeling like a deer in the headlights.”
Bottom line, creating the marketing culture you desire requires more deliberateness and intentionality than ever.
As you can no longer rely on organic mechanisms, like impromptu breakroom discussions or hallway conversations, use some of your own digital downtime to create effective strategies for nurturing your team in the new hybrid paradigm.