Prior to the global pandemic, the idea of working remotely was reserved either for the eccentric who refused to conform to numerous societal norms, which included the workplace (the mad scientist in his lab upon the hill), or the elite figurehead who wields enough power and influence that they don’t need to conform (Tony Stark from the Marvel Universe). In both cases, we view these characters as different to the rest of us. Their contribution to the bigger picture is great enough that they are afforded the luxury of minimal or no oversight, their methods are not questioned, and they are given the freedom to work on their own terms.
Media that portrays remote workers in such a fashion therefore implies the opposite of everyone else. That the rest of us do not make meaningful contributions and therefore do not deserve the freedom to work remotely. But why not?
Much akin to union-busting, corporations press the idea that if they don’t have direct supervision over the vast majority of its working population, that society will fall apart. They do this because ultimately, up until now, the status quo has worked for them, and they believe that relinquishing control of their workforce could result in a drop in productivity that will affect their bottom line. The human cost in the pursuit of profit is once again overlooked.
But 2020 forced us en masse into that very situation. The deepest fears of the upper management was realised as they had to relinquish complete control over their subordinates, and give them a degree of trust. The result was not the global fallout that corporate soothsayers prophesied. In fact, two years on, the stigma of remote working is rapidly changing to become more normalized. And terms like Hybrid Competence will quickly become a desirable trait to possess.
If you can juggle communication channels on slack or teams, answer emails, attend zoom meetings, complete assigned tasks on Asana, fill out information on airtable, and still meet deadlines, then you have essentially mastered the fundamentals of Hybrid Competence.
As someone who has been remotely working for the past few years, the bedrock of this new buzz term is essentially proving your ability to act as if you are in the office, while at home. Yes, the occasional lie in, or extra long lunch hour, is inevitable, and in my humble opinion, encouraged, but for the most part, you go toe-to-toe with your office based compatriots in terms of output and quality.
So how can you discipline yourself to become competent as a hybrid or remote worker?
(1) First, familiarize yourself with numerous online organizational tools like slack, google spaces, zoom, asana, aantala, and so on. If you know how to navigate them, then you can jump in and start contributing straight away online, much to the benefit of the team.
(2) Second, take firm control of your time management. Small lapses are acceptable and a major perk of remote working, but turning up late to meetings, or missing deadlines is a sure fire way to find yourself back in a cubicle where your line manager can keep an eye on you.
(3) Third, maintain clear lines of communication. While working from the comfort of your own home, you are able to work without anyone physically checking in on you, which is great, but you never want to be seen as absent. Therefore, ensuring you stay on top of messages, chatrooms, and work channels is a clear way of being visible. This also further demonstrates your ability to collaborate with others and work well as part of a team.
(4) Fourth, manage expectations with your manager, or team. In an increasingly connected world, time zone differences and role specific quirks can often result in miscommunications. For example, a product manager told me that when his team of coders are “online” they are present for team meetings and catch-ups and brainstorming sessions, but it is only when they are offline are they likely to be doing the work of actually coding. To most managers, seeing an employee present themselves as “offline” for a large portion of the day would ring alarm bells. So leaning on the previous point of communicating, it is important to let those who need to be in the know about your situation in a timely manner.
(5) Finally, if you are moving into remote or hybrid working for the first time, be willing to present your working day via a logbook during a probation period. Probation periods usually have a higher amount of oversight, which might feel stifling, but it could be an important tool to prove to your team that you are working. You are creating a timeline of your day and allowing others to hold you accountable for it. After a while, trust should develop, and you will be left alone to perform your duties.
Ultimately, as long as you are providing the same or more value to a company than an office counterpart, then it is in their best interest to maintain it.
Certain industries will always require in-person roles to be filled, but for Ivory Hill, we see that the tech industry is on the cusp of a new age of hybrid working, and the figures look very positive for the average worker. Research done by online firm Owl Labs stated that 22% of people were happier remote working that their counterparts who always attended the office. Building on that, a study from the University of Warwick in 2021 stated that happier employees were up to 12% more proactive, a far cry from the slackers’ corporations tried to convince us we were. Conclusively, it is very probable that companies will continue to operate via the hybrid working model, so mastering the fundamental skills listed in this article can only be beneficial for all.
This article was originally published on LinkedIn on the Ivory Hill page: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hybrid-competence-newest-soft-skill-your-resume-ivory-hill-global/?trackingId=TAe%2BcWbQwOHC0FlNPmfL2g%3D%3D
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