Hybrid Competence: harnessing the workforce of the future

What do LinkedIn, Google, Microsoft, and Apple all have in common?

They all give their employees time and space to work on their own projects, usually on company time. What did this achieve? Well, apart from numerous innovations that we all use today (Gmail anyone?) it did one very important thing. It gave their employees freedom. Freedom, it’s the thing we all crave. And when we are given it by our company, it does wonders for the headspace.

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What is important to note, is that the aforementioned company spaces were in-house. Now we are entering the era of remote working. Now workers have more freedom than ever. While some will inevitably abuse it, that percentage has been seen to be much smaller than initially feared. The general thinking behind this by industry leaders is that once employees get a taste of these freedoms, they will make more of an effort to maintain that freedom.

In my first article regarding Hybrid Competence. We discussed how Hybrid Competence will become a key soft skill for a majority of future employers as we move further and further from the traditional office environment, and how you, as a potential employee, can embrace this for the betterment of your CV. If you missed it, don’t worry! You can read it here: https://www.linkedin.com/posts/ivory-hill-global_work-power-remotework-activity-6941029948266569728-18Nq?utm_source=linkedin_share&utm_medium=member_desktop_web

As an ex-manager who has had over half a decade of both in person, and remote management experience, I want to now talk about how the employers can embrace this new wave of hybridity, and harness the remote aspects of working with remote employees to get the best out of your team.

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Tip 1: Build a comprehensive onboarding program

Remote working is still not the norm, and so new employees might not be used to it. That’s ok. Creating a thorough and well-thought-out onboarding process that introduces them not only to their role but the company culture as a whole, will help them integrate. This might include an extra meeting each morning to help them structure their day. Or let them shadow another person in their department to get a feel for the day-to-day communications.

Programs like Slack and Asana can be intimidating and overwhelming to people not used to them, so extra resources to help train people on remote working specifics like communication, updating the team, or just showing new employees how to be visible when remotely working are also excellent ways to help newcomers start contributing early.

Tip 2: Avoid Zoom meeting fatigue

Because meetings can be attended with a few clicks, there is a sense that they don’t need to be as important. I’ve worked in companies that had several meetings a day. Most of the information from those meetings could be conveyed across slack communication channels. When planning meetings with your employees, consider these two things:

1)   Can I convey this information clearly through written communication?

2)   If not, can I convey this information in 30 minutes or less?

Sticking to these two principles, and making sure other employees do so as well, means fewer bloated meetings that ultimately disrupt the flow of the working day.

 Tip 3: Trust your employees

In the previous article, it was recommended to new employees that they should consider being more proactive in tracking their time/output to present if asked. This builds trust and confidence in your ability and discipline to work without direct managerial oversight.

Once that trust is established, whether that is day one, ten, or thirty, you as an employer should respect it. I have had discussions with remote workers who told me they get their daily work done early, then use software to emulate mouse movements and clicks in a log to fool their employer into thinking they are working longer. “Why?” was my immediate question, given that they had already completed the work. The answer was simply “That’s what they want to see”. Working relationships like those built on a lack of trust, often break down.

Robert Glazer, Accelerator Partners CEO, has 15 years’ experience leading remote teams, and he says “don’t spy on your employees to ensure productivity. Instead create a workplace of transparency, where if people need to step away for an hour, they just let their manager know”.

 Tip 4: Clear communication is key

We forget that when we speak in person, our words are aided by a myriad of physical cues: body language, tone of voice, hand gestures, facial expression, etc. Phone calls and written communications lose all of that. Words have considerably more interpretative qualities than you think when read in isolation.

Being clear with your communications is extremely important, but so is being clear with your communication expectations. Making sure you are clear with employees by asking for clarification, and being open to giving clarification yourself, can make up for the deficits of non-verbal communication. As renowned poet Alexander Pope said, “To err is human, to forgive, divine” and sometimes breakdowns and miscommunications can cause bigger issues than they are worth.

This article was originally published on the Ivory Hill LinkedIn page: https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/hybrid-competence-harnessing-workforce-future-ivory-hill-global/?trackingId=e72nCF7v3Ic1vyzvJtT6kQ%3D%3D


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