Before the pandemic, most businesses adopted an operating preference for face-to-face engagement. On rare occasions when someone joined a meeting remotely, they were typically forgotten and marginalized during conversations.
Safe-at-home practices to combat the spread of COVID-19 catapulted our adoption of remote work technology. Not only did we learn to connect effectively, but most businesses also reported an increase in productivity. The combination of necessity and existing relationships made this transition seamless.
Offices are reopening, and employers are hiring, bringing a new set of challenges for hybrid workplaces. Rather than slip back into our pre-pandemic ineffectiveness, here are five essential practices to keep remote workers integrated and connected with their in-person teams.
Proximity effect is the idea from social psychology that physical and/or psychological closeness increases interpersonal liking and attraction. When workers share an office space, they have physical proximity, which facilitates collegiality. Thus, it is vital to generate psychological closeness amongst teammates by adopting intentional practices to deepen trust and interpersonal relationships.
Gallup's employee engagement survey includes several questions focused on feeling recognized and valued. Beyond job performance, it is essential to know the person and care about who they are and what matters to them. Regular and consistent feedback, acknowledgment, and listening communicate authentic seeing, caring, and valuing.
No one wants to be the redheaded stepchild. It requires focused effort to give equal consideration to everyone on the team regardless of their location. Structure and facilitate meetings so that everyone has the same participation opportunity. And avoid defaulting to those who share physical proximity.
Throw out all of your paint-by-numbers management tools. To inspire and engage, you need to know each individual and modify to match their needs. Replace one-size-fits-all prizes and praises with genuine appreciation that fully leverages the strengths of each team member. Get curious and invite generative dialogue that grows mutual understanding and respect.
Can't take the crew to lunch or gather in the conference room for a celebration—no problem. In The Power of Moments (2017), the authors share how to craft positive, memorable moments using four elements: elevation, insight, pride, and connection. To engender true engagement and connection, employees need to experience these types of moments, which spark intrinsic motivation and fuel positive self-esteem.
To learn more about the challenges of hybrid teams, check out this recent article I published on LinkedIn.
If you'd like help crafting your new leadership approach, hop on my schedule for a free coaching conversation.