The last couple of years involving the pandemic has taught employees worldwide a lot about how they communicate at work. As many transitioned into remote working when the pandemic first hit, adjusting working hours around personal life meant communicating primarily through technology and unwittingly exposing the shortcomings of our communication tools.
Addressing these shortcomings may require slight process adjustments, such as noting down reminders for absent team members or more significant behavioural changes to ensure everyone feels included. With around 97% of 1,500 executives surveyed being comfortable with a long-term hybrid working model, according to Riverbed and Aternity, it is essential to come up with the necessary solutions to make this arrangement successful.
Here, we look at the barriers to effective hybrid communication and the steps leaders can take to eliminate them in their organisation.
Obstacles to effective hybrid communication
Unconscious employee bias
A significant issue preventing effective communication in a hybrid working arrangement is the potential bias that may arise between remote and in-office workers, wherein the former may feel that they are missing out on the things that go on in the office. This could eventually lead to detrimental effects on the self-worth of remote employees and negatively affect their focus and work performance.
Dilution of company culture
Studies have shown that around 60% of employees do not know what their company stands for. Thus, having a remote workforce will likely dilute a company’s culture as these employees may often feel disconnected from their company’s mission. This can further lead to the belief that corporate culture solely focuses on the ‘office life’ and, thus, feeling disillusioned with the company.
The shift to a more hybrid working model from a conventional one means business organisations must address the issue of team silos (where teams become unwilling to engage with other departments), information loss, and communication breakdowns. Moving to remote-first and hybrid work has revealed just how reluctant remote employees can be to interact with other teams and their members.
Lack of transparency
In the traditional office setting, organisations notify their staff about formal and informal updates to company policies in person. But with the expansion of hybrid work, access to such information has changed drastically, and many employees report in a study that getting it from colleagues or superiors has become more difficult.
Steps to find the hybrid communication strategy for you
Due to the differences between companies, there is no one-size-fits-all strategy for effective hybrid communication. Here are some actionable steps to keep in mind to help companies figure out the right way to go about their communication.
1. Assess the existing communication strategy
Evaluating the organisation’s existing communication systems is the first step to finding the right strategy. To begin, leaders should ask themselves questions such as:
- How do staff communicate with each other daily?
- How much of this communication is synchronous and asynchronous?
- What are the existing policies for conducting one-on-one formal meetings and feedback sessions?
- How is company information documented and disseminated across the entire organisation?
- Does the communication strategy dynamically depend on where employees work on a given day?
2. Determine adequate hybrid policies and workflows
After examining the existing communication strategy, the next step involves evaluating which processes work and need improvement. Since hybrid teams now comprise in-office and remote employees, it is best to establish a consistent policy to ensure a good workflow for all employees.
Refrain from rushing this step, as doing so may create more problems down the line. Instead, create a hybrid work policy template that details the needs and expectations of staff members that answers the following questions:
- What are the ways in which employees can communicate during office hours?
- When should hybrid workers be expected to be available during the day?
- What standard protocol will be used for hybrid team meetings?
- What tools will be used for daily collaboration and communication?
3. Get acquainted with the hybrid workforce
Understanding one’s employees is an indispensable move when developing a holistic hybrid communication approach. No high-functioning strategy can be realised without learning more about the hybrid workers’ daily routines and behaviour, such as when they typically check emails or what is likely to engage them. There are plenty of ways to get to know employees better, such as surveys, polls, anonymous suggestion boxes, focus groups, and more.
4. Execute and tweak the communication strategy
After putting into effect the devised strategy, there is still much more to be done. Unforeseen obstacles such as misunderstandings will inevitably arise along the way, so it is essential to collect sufficient data that can help fine-tune the strategy. Continuous tweaking is expected and should be seen as a way to add further improvements and a window of opportunity to correct the mistakes made along the way. Companies determined to enable long-term success for their hybrid work model should perform this step periodically.
Managing effective communication for asynchronous teams is one of the greatest hurdles in hybrid working. However, just like the sudden switch to remote work back in the early days of the pandemic in Singapore, there will always be ways to address the difficulties posed by any new work model.
To better manage teams working remotely and prevent some of the issues of hybrid working, consider placing them together in coworking spaces instead. At GreenHub Singapore, we provide modern coworking office spaces for lease adorned by green and nature-inspired designs in addition to complete office equipment and amenities.
Have your employees work while staying connected in an environment that promotes their well-being and productivity. Give us a call at +65 6692 8000 today and arrange for a visit to experience our flexible office space for yourself.