I have a confession...I kinda love award shows. I don’t do anything fancy or social (which really works these days) - I just sit and watch. My entire house knows it’s my “me” time. So, on Sunday, I was one of a handful of people who actually knew the Golden Globes were being televised, and I took my usual position on the couch. This year was special. I would witness the opportunities, complexities, and chaos of a pandemic-era award show. Turns out that “Stars are just like us!” Honorees hopped on Zoom with their pets and kids, one in a hoodie (yay for Ted Lasso!) and others in more traditional evening wear. Amy Poehler and Tina Fey hosted the event on opposite coasts, with live-audiences consisting of first responders from cities hit hardest by Covid. Yes, there were tech issues, awkward silences and delays, but this is the reality of the emerging hybrid environment. And it turns out an award show isn’t the outlier. In 2021 corporate life will indeed be imitating art.
“Hybridity” will bring significant new challenges to businesses. This Harvard Business Review article highlights how individual and team power shifts based on where they are located. It digs deep into the obstacles around communication, productivity, and fairness companies will face in making the hybrid work environment supportive of everyone, as part of your team returns to the office and the other remains remote.
Throughout our work with our clients, we’ve seen four trends that are front and center for this new way of working. Here’s some food for thought as you begin to tackle these challenges:
The seismic shift to remote work has slowed companies down. Decision-making, engagement, and managing productivity have become even more difficult in the virtual world. Yet research shows that for organizations that make a special effort to gain speed, the rewards are significant. Fast organizations outperform their competition across almost every significant performance indicator. Achieving speed in a virtual or hybrid environment requires you to rethink the way you communicate, collaborate and connect - with a completely new set of tools. The key to success will be for organizations to address the slowdown in productivity through stronger alignment and decision-making speed in the remote environment.
The challenges of selling through remote communications channels continue to confound many sales organizations. Buyers have become harder to reach, budgets have shrunk, and well-established sales processes have been turned upside down. The balance of power has shifted even further into the hands of the buyers, who have access to increasingly endless amounts of data and information. The main obstacle cited by most remote sellers is access: how do I maximize the often-brief window to quickly connect and influence, and then how do I coordinate the best possible experience? To overcome these obstacles sellers will need to choreograph the meeting and customer experience and differentiate themselves to gain the right access.
Lack of Empathy to Engage
Of all the challenges created by the new world of virtual work, perhaps none is more pressing than the need for greater empathy in leadership and managerial communications. The stresses and strains that employees are experiencing when working remotely amidst pandemic challenges are unfamiliar and formidable. Leaders across the entire organization must adopt a more listener-focused and personal style of communicating – one based on empathy that is practiced and purposefully cultivated in every conversation and meeting.
Return-to-work initiatives range from never returning to the office (for Remote First companies) to coordinated office times for company-wide meetings and everything in between. As organizations begin these transitions, team interactions require new practices to keep the speed of the business and ensure inclusion from all participants - whether they are all in the same room, or participating remotely. Navigate the communications challenges of the coming hybrid workspace and corporate culture through trust, and space where all feel connected and heard.
Let’s get this right. Communicating is tough on a good day. We may be getting close to the end of the never-ending groundhog day, but we need to be ready for the next evolution of the new way to work. We’d love to help!