Hybrid Working. A Thought Piece.

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3 Minutes Read

When the pandemic hit - it was a sharp shock to everyone. But it was clear - we all work remotely, and now we all need to gain new skills to adjust. Now, a slow and almost invisible migration into remote first and hybrid approach is taking the lead.


Hybrid-Working & Communication

Hybridity at work is easy, right? Remote first, but the office is second! Or is it the other way around? Unclarity might be the biggest challenge, and everyone makes different assumptions about what it means to work in a hybrid environment. Some teams might have a setup which ensures that teams meet face to face weekly, which might be a relatively easy solution for everyone. Other teams might be distributed over many countries or continents with different offices. Those teams will meet various challenges, and very different solutions will be needed.

Spark-Blog-Header-Team-Hybrid-WorkingOne of the biggest challenges I see is seamless communication. Over time you might notice one or other signs of communication pockets. In different situations - communication vacuum. Or, do you remember the childhood game of “broken phone”? When a message loses some information each time it is being passed until it becomes total nonsense? We must ensure that the same message and story are shared between the whole team or within the entire organisation. Encouraging team or group communication instead of one-to-one encounters is my preferred approach. Thinking twice before using a direct message to someone is a good rule of thumb.

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Humans Are Story-Loving Creatures

Some things might be perceived as clear and easy to understand. In reality, without context, it might be the opposite. One customer leaving the company might be perceived as an alarming sign of losing income and stability, or it might be a successful transition away from a tedious project. The story surrounding every message might be interpreted differently. We never make decisions generally without context - there is always a situation, constraints, different motivators and different people involved. Without the story around the fact, it can give too much space for many misinterpretations. Everyone practising good communication patterns, bringing in the whole and true story to the rest of the team is a must. The incorrect rumours must be brought up as soon as observed to align the shared understanding of the situation.

A Pool of Shared Meaning

I have found a fascinating concept called ​​Pool of Shared Meaning. It is described in the book “Crucial Conversations” by Kerry Patterson. The concept outlines how we enter every conversation with our knowledge, experience and feelings. This forms our pool of meaning. Multiple people enter a chat and share their perspectives non-threateningly, and others accept their points of view. This increases the group's amount of information in their pool of shared meaning.

The book discusses the skills needed for people to build that safe space which supports growing the collection of shared meaning, especially when conflicting approaches need to find their way to co-exist. Indeed, it is not an easier task to build that shared space when you cannot call everyone into the same uniform communication space. 

Hybridity in Power Distribution

For people managers, hybridity is not only a benefit. While it might seem easier to attract talent, you are not limited to the boundaries of your city. Harvard Business Review very well describes the effect of Hybridity on Power distribution. The challenge comes with sharing attention evenly with everyone. The people who are close to you will naturally receive more attention. It will depend on your natural preference for work style or communication style.

Office employees might become distant for fully remote managers, and vice versa. Leaders need to be very honest with themselves and acknowledge potential biases. Taking one step back to see the whole picture is highly advisable.

How you design, educate and mentor your team might affect how they perceive their experience in the company. Where is your attention already sufficient? Where you might be weak and need to put in the additional effort? How to ensure everyone gets equal attention and the proper support they need.

It’s About More Than Work

We in the Technology industry work with the best and the brightest talent who can solve very complex problems. I think finding a safe space to bring the challenges and empowering the team to solve them is the way. By trusting the team to find their solution to this new opportunity and challenge.

In the end - we all are humans. And we want to be treated like one. We all want to belong to a team and feel safe with them. Creating that feeling of belonging is not a more direct challenge when far away. How can we share a common culture? Relatable jokes? How can we tell when someone is having a bad day? These are still critical conversations with your teammates. We should not forget that we are human beings and work with others.

Have a fun time together, virtually and in person, and make sure that everyone in the team feels that they are still up to date with the rest of the group.

We are still part of the team. We belong to the tribe.

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Remote and hybrid working has always caused some controversy, but at Spark - we take it seriously and put our team first. If this article sparked your interest and you want to see what roles we have available, check out our Careers Page.