As we continue navigating our “new normal” in the workforce, we must constantly adapt to the changing professional landscapes. Anyplace workplaces are becoming more and more common. 

NEWaukee’s latest fireside chat saw a discussion between CEO Angela Damiani and Newance CEO Amanda Daering on the New Normal: Hybrid Pitfalls – Anyplace Workplace Update. Being aware of the different layers of hybrid work will be how you can create a successful anyplace hybrid workforce. The following are some of the discoveries, challenges, and successes from anyplace workplaces. 

Fad or Trend? 

Remote work, and specifically remote hybrid work, is becoming more and more common across industries. Instead of writing off this change as either a fad or a trend, it’s important to identify the nuances of this work style. Amanda says, “People think of remote [work] as a real binary…but there’s a lot of middle ground there. Like working remotely but from certain hub locations and having people still near/accessible to each other even if they’re working remotely.” Work is happening in a way that indicates hybrid models might be here to stay. 

Succeeding Despite Distance 

The idea of remote work happening at different times in different locations can feel daunting, but there are ways to get around the challenges of distributed work. For example, Angela suggests clearly stating your team or organization’s mission: “As leaders, in order for people to feel like they belong, you must over-communicate what your ultimate purpose is.” This doesn’t mean micro-managing, just being extremely clear about those boundaries and expectations. 

Another key practice is expressing gratitude towards coworkers and employees. Angela adds, “People want to feel appreciated and seen.” Being able to acknowledge contributions, especially in public ways, can really improve remote productivity. 

Other ways to deal with distance include:

  • Focusing on belonging/connectedness 
  • Giving space for your team to have a voice
  • Creating trust with a clear agreement on how things get done
  • Finding new ways to be together

Less, Not More Meetings

There can be an impulse to schedule a lot more virtual meetings and events within anyplace workplaces, but that is often not the best way to go. “You don’t need to have more and more and more meetings,” Angela says, mentioning that even adding mandatory “fun-tivities” is not going to improve employee wellness. Amanda agrees, adding, “The temptation is to add more, but another way to think about this is: What’s a way to change what we already have?” 

If you happen to have a culture where everyone genuinely likes meetings and online get-togethers, that is fine, but as Amanda points out, “Giving people the space to opt in to what refreshes them is very important.” Not everyone is going to get energy from multiple meetings.

Multimodal Communication 

So, then, instead of virtual meetings, what can companies and leaders do for their team to improve communication? The answer is to get creative with the ways you relate to employees. At NEWaukee and Newance, employees write User Manuals that detail their quirks, working styles, and the ways they like to be communicated with. Angela says,“It’s really helpful for direct management and inter-team dynamics.” Other examples of multimodal communication include:

  • Having team members pick a Word of the Year to reflect on
  • “Facts of the Day” – email chains of status updates to keep everyone in the loop
  • Taking advantage of group chats, direct messages, and memes/gifs 
  • Physical gifts or resources when appropriate

Team Building

One of the most challenging aspects of anyplace workplaces is team building. It’s a common pitfall, but there are some engaging ways to get around this issue. The Newance team does virtual “office hours” where they can digitally work together once a week. This improves team growth. As Angela says, learning as a team is about “growing together outside of the mandated training.” There are also employee-led interest groups – several members of the NEWaukee team enjoy rock climbing and do that activity together before work.

Another way to improve team building might sound counterintuitive: more time off, versus more time together. Amanda explains that, “We added a few holidays [to the calendar year] with the goal of having at least one 3 day weekend every month of the year.” This works because, as Angela states, “We have to structurally support people in resting and recharging.” 

Finally, team shout-outs and highlights can do wonders for employee connection. “Orienting the whole team towards what is going well and what are the wins can be super motivating,” Angela says. 

But the most important thing is to really listen to your team – what are they saying they want to do? Don’t shoehorn your organization into a style or culture that doesn’t work for your employees. 

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