LeadersEdge blog
Insights for Shaping Tomorrow’s Leaders
Effective Communication Approaches in the Hybrid Workplace
May 27, 2024

In our last blog post, we shared insights and best practices from one of our strategic partners on effective communication in the hybrid world of work. We received such great feedback and response on that piece, we decided to build on the topic again and offer some additional insights to bolster your level of effectiveness. Plus, with return-to-work strategies being revisited, it has created a lot of great discussion in the work we do with our clients, so we want to keep the momentum alive.

Communication itself is a skill. Layering technology on top of that can feel overwhelming as we are often over-stimulated with the amount of online dialogue we need to manage (online chats, email, text messaging), plus the real-time interactions of being online, in-person or both to manage our day-to-day work.

Improving communication in a hybrid work environment requires a combination of traditional communication strategies and new approaches tailored to the unique challenges of remote and in-office dynamics. Here are some additional tactics and approaches to enhance communication in this environment:

Establish Team Norms on How to Best Leverage Technology 

Decide as a team as to how you want to best leverage the various communication platforms. Unified communication platforms like Slack, Microsoft Teams, or Zoom are great to help keep all communication in one place, ensuring that team members can easily access and contribute to conversations.  

These platforms are great for group dialogue but as the leader of your respective team, you need to be clear about how you want more sensitive issues or escalations to be managed. Having a debate or allowing for unhealthy conflict or disagreements online can spiral out of control fast and create miscommunication and unnecessary drama for you to manage. 

Establishing team norms where everyone agrees on how disagreements or lack of clear communication is to be managed, will help foster more effective communication and collaboration. As an example, if I do not understand what a colleague has written in a group chat, I will call them on Teams or pick up the phone and chat with them to work through the discussion real time preventing all the back and forth. Or perhaps agree to add the topic to the next team meeting for real time discussion.

In addition to this approach, we would encourage you to be proactive and keep the lines of communication open through group meetings, regular check-ins, and updates via video calls to keep everyone aligned and informed. Address any unhealthy or unhelpful behaviors observed in online exchanges and encourage your people to talk to one another and work through issues together vs. defaulting to you to manage how they are interacting with one another online and real time.

Establish Clear Communication Channels

Clearly define which channels should be used for different types of communication (e.g., email for formal communications, chat for quick questions, video calls for meetings).

Ensure that everyone knows how and when to reach each other, considering time zones and working hours.

Promote Transparency and Inclusivity

Ensure team members receive the relevant information and resources required to do their jobs effectively and that all materials are accessible to both in-office and remote employees.

Leverage the use of videos and establish team norms or rules of engagement for your meetings and one-on-one discussions, and ensure equal opportunities are provided for everyone to participate.

Establish Expectations and Norms

Communication etiquette is key by establishing norms for response times, meeting schedules, and the use of different communication tools as previously described.

Clearly communicate expectations as a team regarding availability, breaks, and off-hours to avoid misunderstandings and respect each other's working hours.   

Foster a Collaborative Culture

Leverage collaborative tools like shared documents, project management software, and virtual whiteboards to facilitate collaboration and discussions.

Team building should consist of a variety of online and in-person (where appropriate) activities. Maintain positive momentum and organize virtual team-building activities to strengthen relationships and trust among team members based on a structure and cadence that works well for the team.

Encourage Ongoing Feedback and Continuous Improvement

Asking your team members privately, and as a group what's working, what isn’t and what needs improvement shouldn’t be a one-time event. Make it part of how you work together on an ongoing basis and leverage the notion of having postmortems or debriefing sessions as we described in the last blog.  

As the leader of the team, be open to adapting communication needs and methods based on feedback and changing needs of your people.

Role Model Clear and Concise Communication

This is going to be our blog topic for the coming weeks ahead, as communication is a critical skill not only for leaders, but for all team members in order for companies to function and perform well.  

Effective communication must start with you as leaders, as you have to role model the right behaviors for yourself and for others to follow to establish collective success in the workplace. 

As previously mentioned, establish team norms on how to best leverage technology, for your one-on-one and team meetings utilize your time well and being inclusive is all part of how high performance is achieved in the work environment.  

Optimal performance, exceeding goals and objectives doesn’t occur by happenstance. Being intentional and purposeful leaders who establish norms, lean into these best practices, and actively support your people is how we build high performing teams and individuals.

You also need to be an active listener and encourage others to do the same during meetings and discussions to ensure everyone is heard and has the opportunity to contribute.  

Organizations that focus on strengthening communication skills at all levels are no doubt high performing. A study by MIT Sloan School of Management found that a 12-month workforce training program focused on soft skills delivered a 250% return on investment (ROI) within eight months of completion.

Take care of your people and they will take care of your business; it is that simple.

By implementing these simple tactics and approaches, you will foster a more effective and harmonious work environment that bridges the gap between remote and in-office team members, where everyone feels heard, seen, and valued.

What Are Your Thoughts?

What tips and strategies do you have that are working for you?

We want to hear from you! Please get in touch by either emailing me at joanne.trotta@leadersedgeinc.ca or by calling me at 416-560-1806.

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