The Hybrid Work & Hybrid Meetings Guide
Guide Audience: C-Suite, Founders, HR Leads, Operation Directors & Digital Transformation leads
We are about to embark on a brand new journey, a hybrid journey.
July 1st was a landmark date for the business epicentre New York, July 19th is a landmark date in England, many other businesses in Asia, Australia and New Zealand have moved back to the office and are working in the hybrid model.
The tech giants have suggested 3 days a week, Apple’s 3 days a week in the office has come under fire from their employees, Google has experienced similar feedback and smaller companies are wrestling with how to make hybrid office work for their business.
Other large brands have stayed consistent in their messaging Facebook and Salesforce have been clear that Hybrid is in their long term future and Slack have moved to a digital first mentality.
We are re-entering the world of work where businesses will be experiencing the previously hotly discussed topics such as:
- Who ate my avocado?
- Are you using my cup?
- Did you really book this meeting room?
- And are you using my iPhone charger?
Will businesses be prepared to handle these micro-moments where these silly annoyances didn’t happen for so long.
Throughout this Hybrid workplace guide, you will see Hybrid Tip: to help you act upon important lessons and learnings from other businesses to help you and your business win Hybrid.
Many businesses will look for the ‘magic moment’ in the new Hybrid set-up, it is important you celebrate small wins along the journey and micro moments as a company, this will ensure you make a celebrated and smoother transition to Hybrid.
The magic moment will be a journey, however, you have likely made good progress while in lockdown/quarantine periods.
Many businesses who made the Hybrid switch pre-2020 celebrated small wins such as product releases, Hybrid offsites and Hybrid training sessions that develop teams collectiveness and delivery.
In every work environment from in-person in-office, to fully remote (aka distributed work), to Hybrid, trust is the most important factor for workplaces to succeed. Trust is earnt and built and it is important there are intentional steps to develop trust and if there are any issues that occur people and teams work together to rebuild and reconnect.
Hybrid Tip: Trust is fundamental in the Hybrid environment and has to be something you and your teams deliberately work on and feedback on regularly.
Psychological safety is essential in any work environment, ensuring colleagues are not called out or punished for mistakes, questions or raising concerns will be imperative to win Hybrid and ensuring in the office or working remote has the same understandings and guidelines.
Internal Battles To Acknowledge & Overcome
Hybrid for many businesses will be the two conflicting stories, for many, it will be the best of both worlds, and for others, it will be the worst of both worlds.
It is important in the Hybrid office to enable this to be flexible and encourage colleagues to understand what works for them and their situation safely. To bring the best of both worlds teams will need to support those who struggle in this environment and are not receiving the support they require and for those who thrive in Hybrid workforces, it is important they help to support and coach those around them on the tips that work for them and how colleagues can implement similar setups and processes.
HR departments, Managers and leadership teams should be ready to help their teams understand what will be right for their people and help teams and departments work through how they can work and collaborate in the best and most effective methods.
It is important to remember that for Hybrid to work it does require a fundamental mindset shift from always based in the office vs always being based at home or working remotely to understanding that your colleagues will be in many locations with many different backgrounds completing their work from where ‘work works for them’.
Hybrid Tip: Hybrid works best when the location of colleagues is not a hot topic of conversation.
Noise vs Signal will be a continued hurdle to overcome in Hybrid, you will need to cut through the noise and understand what are important signals and indicators for change and review.
Hybrid workplaces can feel noisy without principles and guidelines.
The common complaints around Hybrid work are Meeting Fatigue, Zoom (& Being on video) fatigue, keeping alignment and being able to deep work. These are all factors to consider in Hybrid and reducing the noise and communicating more clearly will help you reduce fatigue and develop better connections.
Hybrid Tip: Reducing noise, demand for meetings to align on work and removing notifications will be a key win in Hybrid.
Invisible Vs Non Visible
Many managers are used to seeing their team members working or going into meeting rooms, this is often visible, one of the important wins for managers and teams is to make the invisible work visible.
Hybrid Tip: Encouraging to positively call out when colleagues who help each other, go over and above for each other and help to problem solve in Hybrid ways will all help to remove old conditioning and build better Hybrid connections.
While Hybrid evolves, expect to hear new phrases such as ‘Multipleplayer’, ‘presence’ and ‘avatars’.
Multiplayer is a reference to collaborating and working on the same document or working canvas at the same time across multiple locations or even within the same room. This has been happening on Google docs for over a decade, new tools such as Notion, Miro and Figma offer canvas for real-time collaboration seeing follow players live taking an action within a browser. It is not just one screen trying to capture insights and ideas.
Presence is a reference to being around your colleagues, being able to talk naturally and be in view and hearing each other like you were in the same room, many AR and VR companies are working on products that specialise in presence like in the real world / aka in the same room.
Presence is going to be really important to software and app developers in the near future and will be a win for Hybrid companies to act more organically and naturally once operating as avatars or representation of yourself in a virtual setting or environment.
Avatars are something many will wrestle with, filters are used in everyday life and will be something many choose to use, an avatar can be a ‘memoji’, it can be a filter used to turn your face into another object or something simple as adding a suntan or adding a hat etc.
Avatars are going to become a main theme in Hybrid work and it is important you respect this or look to enforce a guideline around the usage of avatars.
Hybrid Tip: Avatars can be branded, can be team based and can be designed internally. Have some fun and incorporate these into planning events, team events and create competitions to embrace the future use of Avatars.
There are many tools and software companies developing Virtual HQ programmes to offer a virtual office where you have areas and seats to replicate the office, these enhancements are in their infancy however can help colleagues adapt to a new way of work and have the ability to keep their desk.
Floating heads is a theme of work that is happening where you are a floating head in many software and apps, you will be able to float around documents, in presentations and in chat, it is important to understand this trend to continue especially with stand up meetings and campfire meetings.
Read the Focus approved:
Hybrid work software
With many businesses enforcing a return to the office in one shape or another, here are the best ways to help your company’s transition and win the Hybrid office.
The Ways To Succeed
- Exec Summary
- Chapter: Quick Fire Guidelines
- Chapter: Persona’s Ways To Think
- Chapter: Meetings
- Meetings With Digital Options As Default
- Have Break-Out Rooms
- Open Continuous Chat
- Gestures Matter
- Have Digital Owner & Physical Owner
- No Sidebar Conversations
- Digital Body Language
- No Review By Pixel
- Reading The Rooms
- Always Have Dedicated Cameras In Meeting Rooms
- Chapter: Feedback
- Asking For Feedback
- Level Of Importance On Tasks
- FOMO Vs JOMO
- Chapter: Operational Excellence
- Agreed Meeting Etiquette
- Follow Up With Notes, Decisions & Actions
- Agree Time Scales For Feedback
- Communication Principles – Default Meeting Chats
- Tools & Tech Stack
- Consider Meeting Time Blocks
- Chat Guidelines
- Remote Comms
- Copy In
- Delivering News
- Hybrid’s Golden Rule – Be Present
- Gift Of Time
- Round Up
- Develop Hybrid work around flexible guidelines (not rules) – guidelines work, hard rules are broken
- Be cautious of anxiety and nervousness around returning to an open office environment – enable those who are nervous to return safely and at their pace
- Consider how you introduce hot-desking as default vs having team banks of desks and creating ‘team cities’ of desks. This reduce friction and enables more space and more collaboration
- Many people are still grieving and require extra support, consider this before enforcing a return to the office mandate
- Build better connections – whether this is in person or virtually. Help to build connections through matching colleagues, helping them to stay in touch and connect through shared projects, experiences and social events.
- Don’t overlook connecting colleagues through the love of sports, playing as a club and passions outside of work. These are all important factors and are in colleagues’ DNA, embrace these where you can.
- Compassion led leadership – help to build empathic and compassionate leadership throughout management teams, lead with compassion and emotional intelligence, IQ is always a factor, however better EQ improves IQ and will develop from the deliberate culture and community building
- Look to hire external coaches and mentors to help you and your colleagues with EQ and IQ skills development
- It is important to understand in the Hybrid workplace there will be teams and departments that will lose some connections and this will be ok. The WorkGraph is something many companies neglect to develop or help their employees to be successful in setting up the right peer to peer connections. There are many connections and networks that will reduce in size from the number of interactions and the number of interactions will drop. This will be an occurrence in all businesses, smaller businesses will want to keep on top of this as it has seem a bigger problem that it is
- Build a ‘learning and knowledge sharing culture’: Knowledge hoarding is one of the core issues within businesses, build-out knowledge centres and wiki’s to help share important pieces of information
- Co-build knowledge and learning, shaped around key operating principles, with a focus on improving internal connections and building networks cross-functionally
- Build hybrid communities around co-development – implement a champions system that will be proactive in holding lunch and learns and internal training programmes.
- Build a sense of collectiveness around projects, celebrating formally around work-related goals, including breaking traffic records, sales records and more formalised OKR’s.
Hybrid Tip: Build collectiveness alongside informal goals, for example; external events, colleagues being recognised within their areas of expertise, birthdays, anniversaries and births are all key drivers for celebration and connection.
- Build a sense of collectiveness around projects, celebrating formally around work-related goals, including breaking traffic records, sales records and more formalised OKR’s.
- Think about how to use Culture Community Managers and key employees to act as the connecting glue and building bridges between business units and departments.
- Work Responsibilities – there will still be occasions where colleagues will have to work from home, look after their children and have to self isolate. Consider how you provide guidance around work responsibilities and show flexibility around these key occurrences and help colleagues to know these will be events that happen from time to time and the way they react and act flexibility will be the difference between winning and losing.
Being able to connect and collaborate in person and remotely at the same time on the same page will be vitally important in the Hybrid workplace.
Chapter: Quick Fire Guidelines
- No distractions in meetings, everyone has to be present in the meeting, call out good and bad behaviours
- Hybrid for most colleagues provides more freedom and choice – allow freedom and choice to actually be a choice and encourages deep work and flexibility around work
- No judgement on colleagues backgrounds (review by pixel is alienating particularly for many introverted personality types)
- “Statuses” act as important guiding steps – if someone is on ‘do not disturb’ or ‘away’ they will not be contactable to have ‘real time’ communication or a conversation.
- 5 pre defined set statuses help to keep it simple and enables everyone to select from, from new starters to the most senior (or even the HiPPO)
- Telephone calls have their place in Hybrid, fewer inputs and outputs, phone calls do help colleagues to concentrate.
Hybrid Tip: Be mindful of disabilities, deaf and hard of hearing require video, blind colleagues require high quality audio.
- Introduce ‘ice breakers’ with colleagues who do not work regularly together and build out profiles (accessible across the business on your wiki) that can be shared and digested easily. Creating a ‘60 seconds with’, with a set of questions colleagues complete helps to connect colleagues together and for colleagues to get a feel for their colleagues
- Hybrid allows options – Approval of recording of meetings by audio or with video enables meetings so can be listened back to, transcribe and optimise.
- There are a large number of tools that are being developed and built currently and worth considering investing in a recommended tool.
- Have deep work times where people know they can get their heads down and concentrate on completing their work
- Hybrid Meetings require a chairperson, someone to keep the meeting on track and on topic
- Have ‘check-ins’ to align people on the meeting objective and agenda items and importantly to check in on colleagues
- Have ‘wrap ups’, so everyone is on the same page and gain feedback from attendees
- Pre meeting have an objective for every meeting, what are we trying to achieve
- Pre meeting agendas – have an agenda people can add items onto the agenda and discuss, the chair can help work through why the agenda item is important
- During the meeting have a meeting chair and meeting notes taker who will share the important notes, the important decisions made and important actions required with deadlines associated
- Post meeting the chair and note taker will share the notes, decisions and actions
- Respect time of the group – time is the only level we all have, if wasting time or removing other people’s time be respectful to give back time or reclaim their own time
- Headphones and Mute: If working remotely wear headphones and use mute to ensure meetings and collaboration sessions flow smoothly. No Hybrid tool is perfect and poor discussion manifests from people talking over each or being distracted by background noise and disruptions
- Create a decision document where the key decisions have been made, explain how and why the decision was made, when the decision was made and how you can ask questions.
- Documents work best for this as you can have a record of change and create FAQ’s around making the best questions. If you have an internal wiki, decision documents should live here for security purposes.
- Have a set of gestures to help meetings have better conversation
- Use a notes, decisions and actions framework to centralise remote sessions have rigour and have an agreed plan moving forward
- Create communication principles, x comms channel (email, slack, teams etc) for y reason. Company wide principles help all hybrid collaborations work, so junior to most senior understand it’s the same rule
- Use project management tools to keep up to date on progress of projects – reduce status update meetings
- Use asynchronous communications where possible – centralise updates and create more deliberate
- Invest in better software, Hybrid wins by investing in software for specific tasks and items.
- Colleague setups are essential, enable the best sound with mics, headphones with mics and high-quality video enables the best experiences. Look to invest in good set ups for all of your employees, standard computer set up’s still are not built for Hybrid environments (yet).
Chapter: Persona’s Ways To Think
Here are five persona’s to consider with your Hybrid workforce and how to consider each persona while planning a Hybrid workplace.
It is important to help the most senior down to your entry-level colleagues in training and onboarding to Hybrid and how to succeed in Hybrid.
Particularly training for those with proximity bias and conditioned to office only work.
Meetings With Digital Options As Default
The major tech providers such as Google and Microsoft have recently rolled out by default the ability to join remotely or digitally. These steps are important, however, ensuring teams know how this works and encouraging digital-enabled meetings will be key to Hybrid meeting inclusion and success.
Have Break-Out Rooms
Always ensure you enable break out rooms for open discussions, group work and brainstorms enabling everyone to be part of the conversation and allowing those working from home to join in as an equal in the meeting.
Breakout rooms offer an ability to collaborate, tools like Mural, Miro and Lucidspark enable you to openly collaborate on the same screen at the same time. This is known as multiplayer.
Tools have improved greatly over the last year, it is important you review your tools and tech stack to enable the best environment for collaboration (in a spreadsheet, slide deck or text based document) and brainstorming.
Open Continuous Chat
One issue we all face is using the chat function across different tools and different access levels.
Chat is often used to share the most valuable pieces of information and very often to clarify points or reference an important article, document or worksheet that others need to look at or review at the moment and post-meeting.
Zoom chat only works in the meeting and is often forgotten about post-meeting. Slack channels can become noisy and workspace tools are not always easily accessed.
Ensuring you select the best chat tool to centralise meeting chatter and ensure these are readable and accessible post meetings is essential.
Finding the best tools and answering the jobs to be done is imperative in 2021 especially for the hybrid workplace.
With my clients I tend to recommend around.co which has built-in echo filtering, sends notes to slack and to email straight after the meeting to all attendees. This helps to centralise notes and actions to those who work in their inboxes and those who work out of tools like slack.
This methodology also creates a fair playing field for those who join for some of the meetings, have to leave early or enables those attendees to forward to colleagues who could not attend all works for open and deliberate communication.
Internal wiki’s are great to have open notes and provide a home for all information. Access privileges and open spaces will be important factors in succeeding.
Very often in virtual and Hybrid meetings, it is who shouts loudest wins the attention, this is not helping to collaborate and often alienates those outside of the physical meeting room.
Agreed upon gestures work well, hold up your hand to raise a point, two hands to vote etc.
Gestures mattered before the forced work from home experiment, we often gestured to look at the screen, to provide thumbs up, thumbs down motions and enabled quieter, more introverted members to have their say.
Gestures will be vital in ensuring you win this phase of Hybrid work.
Hybrid Tip: Build your own set of gestures to win.
Have Digital Owner & Physical Owner
Rotate roles and ownership of meeting owners.
A meeting owner is vital particularly in meetings with more than three people, very often away from workshops, meetings with more than four people become lectures and requires an owner to keep to the agenda, keep the meeting on track and take and share the valuable notes, actions and decisions.
Hybrid Tip: Always have a ‘meeting captain’ that rotates, the captain is responsible for the flow of the meeting and keeping you on track, the captain is respected and runs the meeting. This works well across all levels and ensures all personalities can own meetings regardless of their personality type or “rank”. Respecting the captain as the leader of the meeting helps colleagues understand it is a team activity and you all win by rotating responsibility.
No Sidebar Conversations
The temptation for many is to continue the conversation in person and indirectly exclude remote and hybrid teammates, this can happen while all in the office but if there are sidebar chats or let’s continue this chat in a breakout area. Where possible remember your remote colleagues and see if they are available, if not and there are burning topics or you are in flow, ensure you share the session afterwards.
It is essential you share insights and notes from the follow-on conversation.
This has often happened while others are busy or had to rush to another meeting so sidebar chats are not unique to Hybrid workplaces but it is vitally important you keep on top of sharing the valuable pieces of information and connecting to those who are working outside of the office.
Documentation and asynchronous conversation around docs or wiki’s are going to be critical for teams to win the Hybrid office, particularly when meeting rooms will become a challenge to book again and the requirements for more in-person events will take over if there is not deliberate operational guidance.
Digital Body Language
Digital body language is harder to read than in person, it is important those in-person consider how they are positioned and their reactions whilst in Hybrid meetings. Digital body language is particularly important when attempting to read the room, understand any colleagues who are not fully brought in or require gestures to grab attention.
Digital body language is also particularly important in offsites, workshops and collective brainstorms. Consider how you reposition the setup of your rooms and engage with your colleagues.
No Review By Pixel
The temptation for many is to review the background of those working remotely, often commenting on a change, a haircut or wearing the zoom shirt again.
There is very often no malice or any ill intent, this can alienate those working remotely and often can create unnecessary friction.
Create a principle that you all sign up for to not review by pixel especially in group settings.
Being observant is not bad but can make others conscious.
Reading The Rooms
When you are working with a hybrid set-up, you will experience difficulties reading the room you are physically in and then the rooms your remote colleagues and collaborators are in.
Being deliberate in asking for feedback, insights and asking your remote colleagues directly for reactions is key.
If you are struggling with reading the rooms, encourage check-ins and wrap ups, Hybrid Tip: Set up a document with three to five-set emoji’s to ask for feedback and your colleague’s sentiment.
Be mindful colleagues may want to be anonymous or appear to be anonymous in answering these questions. Anonymous is fine until everyone is reporting to be sad or unhappy, encouraging open and name based feedback will help you to improve feedback and time dynamics.
Always Have Dedicated Cameras In Meeting Rooms
An element of winning the Hybrid office battle is having dedicated cameras for specific meetings rooms, there are many inexpensive HD webcams that you can add onto tripods or mount on walls per meeting room to ensure you have a crystal clear stream of the room and of your colleague at home.
Cameras are essential for your colleagues who are hard of hearing, who have hearing difficulties and need to lipread.
Do not rely on one laptop and seeing one colleague face or ear in meetings, seeing the whole room and multiple attendees is important. Collaborate with your IT provider or tech team to set up conference room style conferencing tools and kit.
Asking For Feedback
Meeting recovery syndrome (MRS) is a bigger part of our day than we realise, MRS can have a knock-on effect from minutes to hours and often leads to friction.
Asking for feedback will be important, whether this in the meeting, post-meeting or kept as a record for improving meetings.
Asking for feedback from your colleagues can be undertaken in many ways, often the best is having centralised open notes for colleagues to feed into with words, emojis or open feedback.
Hybrid Tip: Ask for silence when feedback is written down and recommend for everyone to spend time completing asynchronously, this creates a fair system for everyone to have the same chance to complete feedback. Introverts and shy colleagues find this less intimidating, especially those who struggle with conflict.
Level Of Importance On Tasks
When working in different setups, the importance of tasks can vary, when creating tasks it is greatly important to agree and assign a level of importance to each task, especially when delegating tasks to colleagues.
Create a scale of importance that everyone understands and signs up to.
- A working scale from 1 to 5 can seem simple but is 1 highest importance or is 5?
- A traffic light system can seem straightforward but without deadlines or agreement, these can be ambiguous.
Hybrid Tip: Remove ambiguity by creating a 1-5 scale everyone understands and create guideline deadlines, if the expert of that topic is not in the meeting or chain, ask for their feedback on deadlines and set realistic expectations.
FOMO Vs JOMO
FOMO: Working in a Hybrid work environment there will be times where many will feel a fear of missing out, working in the office can lead to spontaneous meetings and some decisions that might not involve team members working remotely or something big happens and requires an instant decision or answer, grabbing a whole team can be challenging.
Be mindful to use tools like the decision document to share decisions and enable those who have FOMO to understand the decision and why that decision team was chosen and used at that time. Speed is often of the essence and Hybrid can feel like it can slow down decisions.
It is important to note war rooms etc were in Hybrid situations, there was often a room that those in the office were in and those remote would be on video or on the phone. Remember these happened previously and can continue to happen in the future.
JOMO: The joy of missing out is often overlooked, many colleagues will want to work from home as they want to miss some of the day to day events, they may not want to go for a quick drink after work, they would happily miss a quick stand up or prefer to be deep working vs disruptions.
There will be a balance between FOMO and JOMO, the key is to invite colleagues, to keep the information flowing and offering the same opportunities. This is where communication guidelines and decision documents will help you to keep a constant understanding and a collective team.
Chapter: Operational Excellence
Agreed Meeting Etiquette
Meeting Agendas are always set before meetings, have clear objectives for the meeting, clearly explaining why you have invited people and should be clear about the interaction level required by the members of the team.
Check-ins and wrap up’s are great ways to ensure you have aligned around the meeting. Check-ins are to understand the sentiment of the meeting, align around the agenda and get a feel for the why of the meeting.
Wrap-up’s are to finalise the meetings, gain feedback and gain sentiment around the meeting, the notes and decisions made.
Each meeting should start with a quickfire check-in and a ‘check out’ aka ‘wrap up’, if required you should think about how to move to follow up conversations into asynchronous documentation.
Follow Up With Notes, Decisions & Actions
At Focus we created N(otes) D(ecision) A(ctions) format for meetings they are:
- Notes – what are the important notes from the meeting, what would those who did not attend the meeting need to know. What directions were needed.
- Decisions – what decisions were made, who will be responsible and if there were important instructions to follow these should be recorded and shared.
- Actions – anything that requires dedicated follow up work and a deadline for these follow-up items to be completed.
Actions are important to align around, where a deadline is decided you record and share the next steps. Actions often require dedicated insights or a brief to kick off work for those in the meeting so ‘notes, decisions and actions document’ should act as guidance to how you got to the decisions you made.
Agree Time Scales For Feedback
An observation while working Hybrid in a previous role and working with fully distributed teams, feedback while remote or working in Hybrid is often a more important element than those who work within the same space more regularly.
You should have an agreed principle that feedback should be shared and received within a dedicated period of time, ideally within 24 hours and discussed either through digital face to face or via asynchronous documentation.
The more that is written and discussed by writing, the easier it is to create specifications, brief documents and show how you got to where you did.
Hybrid Tip: Create templates for the business to use as standard, the more templates the easier it is to discuss and have company-wide standards.
Communication Principles – Default Meeting Chats
Use teams or slack channels over external video meeting chats such as zoom “chat”. Meeting chats are often lost, even with a note-taker or meeting chair, the chat is often lost communication and becomes tricky to follow without one communication chat space. Teams is designed around meetings and work activities, slack is designed around projects and chat, understanding that creating hundreds of chat channels or semi private groups is not scalable and not easily managed when people join and leave meetings or workgroups.
Use the Focus (NDA framework) notes, decision, actions framework above to reduce any lost notes or important actions required.
If notes are shared in the chat tool like Zoom ensure the meeting owner (captain model works well here) copies and pastes into the chat tool of choice, emails around to all attendees or centralises on the knowledge centre.
Tools & Tech Stack
Project management tools & Internal knowledge centres are essential in Hybrid. Deliberate work beats chats and numerous back to back meetings.
A major shift for some organisations is being deliberate in documenting their actions, creating a record and a canonical source of truth for the whole organisation to learn from and understand the truth at a glance.
Tools such as Monday.com, Asana, Confluence, Notion all help to centralise knowledge, help to proactively update colleagues on progress and reduce the demand for status updates.
For a number of businesses these steps will feel like more work, however, it is important to understand that knowledge is hoarded (typically un-intentionally) and kept in private chats, private mailboxes and kept in one person head vs accessible to the relevant people and colleagues on working on a project, campaign or delivery phase.
By being deliberate in keeping a knowledge centre and enabling collaboration you will see the demand for pings and quick updates reduce. Think of the number of instant messages, emails and quick chats that happen because the data is not accessible or not stored in a canonical place.
Consider Meeting Time Blocks
Dropbox has recently rolled out their virtual first operations, dedicated time for meetings and collaboration and then dedicated time for deep work.
If you are in the same time zone or similar time zones this approach could be something you could adapt to your business?
- Could you implement two blocks of time around meetings and deep work.
- Could you roll out core hours for these activities, could you roll out 10.30 – 12.30 for meetings and 13.30 – 16.30 for deep work?
- Could you ensure standups take less than ten minutes at the start of the day?
- Email vs chat – This can appear to be overkill however email vs chat are private inboxes by default, these become friction points and can cause issues with what comms channels are a priority
- Emoji usage – reactions are often used with emojis, emojis are great quick-fire responses, unfortunately, some colleagues will be confused around the context of the emoji usage. It is important you help colleagues understand when to use emojis and which emojis could cause concern, fear or conflict. Consider how you offer a set of emojis that will be clearly understood. There is no perfect way of doing this, however, it is important you use guidance and principles to help shape conversations. Crying emoji to some are a laughing emoji to others.
- GIF usage – GIFs are fun and can often answer something quicker than a long typed out sentence or paragraph. It is important to have guidance around the usage of GIFs when they are fine to use and when they could cause concern or unprofessional nature. Many suggest you should not use GIFs to external partners, this is where your business requires guidance. Consider how you might suggest when they are fine to use and when they are not acceptable.
Hybrid Tip: There will have to be flex around GIF and MEME usage but important you offer guidance and show good and bad examples nonetheless.
- Exclamation points – ! can mean many things to many people, !’s can imply the speed of delivery required, it could mean the level of importance, the enthusiasm around a project or could mean someone is shouting, it is important you guide the team around the usage of the exclamation mark so there is less ambiguity.
Speed of communications: When working in a hybrid work environment, speed is often considered of the highest importance, speed in replying to “urgent” requests can be hard to judge and understand, especially with chat tools like Slack and Teams.
It is important you help teams understand how quickly a response is required and if there is an etiquette required with internal communications.
Have guidance across different channels, emails are often more informal whereas instant message communication can be noisy and requests can come in hard and fast.
Hybrid Tip: Build principles around comms, speed and use of channels and emails.
Mass Copy In Behaviours:
It can work in businesses to create mass mailing lists, BCC emails and sending to dedicated email addresses to keep colleagues up to date, however, these flood inboxes and often are not clear enough to make heads or tails of the desired action. It is important you consider how you manage this, particularly where there will then be a reply-all chain and clarifying questions both in-office and those remotely.
Delivery of News
Good news: Good news is always delivered better in person, however, in the hybrid world, this will have to be over a screen many times.
It is important to set up the good news and deliver it in person through the right software.
Bad news: Delivering bad news is without question done best in person, unfortunately, with some questionable internet connections, it will be a challenge to ensure connections are stable and the message is delivered well enough. You should consider how you can personally follow up in writing on email with the important information.
Presence is something we should all consider in the movement to Hybrid. It is important to remember when you are digitally interfacing your attention should not be questioned.
Be present in each meeting and ensure you are not tapping away and let those who are attending virtual events with you are aware of why you might be using your keyboard.
A guideline that Focus strongly recommends is limited to no multitasking in meetings, we are all guilty of this and under pressure to deliver and with no multitasking this can be challenging with numerous notifications however it is important to respect colleagues and be present in meetings.
Hybrid Tip: Turn Off The Following Notifications: Desktop notifications when presenting sounds from software such as Outlook, Slack, WhatsApp and Chrome notifications. Leverage the new focus mode on iOS15 to remove notifications.
Declare upfront if there are clashes, times you may need to learn of drop off for another event and allow your colleague(s) to understand looking at watches, leaving earlier or needing to check devices.
A guideline we introduce is treating meetings remotely like in the office, with no distractions or limited interruptions. While working from home and working remotely it may be tempting to put on the dishwasher, to order in and have deliveries but attempt for these updates and interruptions to not distract or derail important meetings.
Respect For Time
Time is the only leveller we all have. In other words, time matters to everyone. There is no bigger time waste feeling than thinking you have lost time or you did not have to be in a meeting, brainstorm or session for longer than you wanted to be or there was no requirement for your attendance.
If you finish the 1:2:1, meeting or workshop early, respect time for everyone, finish early or before time, this is completely acceptable. Keeping everyone in a meeting or keeping slots when they are not required forces colleagues to wear a busy badge as a badge of honour vs being effective and having the right time to complete tasks and their BAU.
Timekeeping is even more important in Hybrid work, understanding and appreciating your colleagues’ time is essential.
If colleagues have to move their meeting room, if there is a requirement for a delay, respect colleagues and inform them in writing and as quickly as possible. Waiting on remote guests or waiting to be let into a room can feel more frustrating than in real life.
I trust you found this guide useful and will be building your plan to implement a number of practices.
If you would like to discuss or your company requires help in delivering your hybrid workplace, please get in touch with me directly and best of luck with Hybrid.
Other Focus Resources To Read
Newsletter: Become a better leader: Sign up to Focus’ weekly leaders letter newsletter – https://focus.business/blog/category/leaders-letter/
Advice: Need career advice and don’t know where to turn? Our anonymous career advice helps you –
Other Important Guides To Read
- Designing The Hybrid Office – https://focus.business/blog/designing-the-hybrid-office-guide/
- Remove Proximity Bias (Removing In-Person Bias For Managers) – https://focus.business/blog/how-to-remove-proximity-bias-guide/
- The Future Of Work – https://focus.business/blog/the-future-of-work/
- What Is Company Culture? – https://www.focus.business/what-company-culture-is/
- How To Fix A Toxic Company Culture – https://focus.business/blog/how-to-fix-a-toxic-work-culture/
Or Watch My Future of Work Keynote 👇