Hybrid workplaces have come with a host of benefits, but these new methods of organization have also led to new challenges. One of the most prevalent issues faced by evolving hybrid companies is the opening of many new avenues of frequent communication. When a hybrid worker has to sort through videoconferencing, email, slack, and in-person meetings, it can easily become overwhelming. Doubly so if different information streams are delivering inconsistent information!
In-person meetings are a great way to deliver important information and boost social cohesion in the workplace, but if teams or workers that closely collaborate are in the office on different days – such as your Sales and Marketing team both choosing to come in on a different day of the week – then employees will likely experience the situation of having to fire up multiple videoconferencing meetings despite being physically available in the office.
This opens up additional unnecessary communication streams that can contribute to overwhelming an employee. Additionally, if flexibility is a key aspect of your hybrid model, you may begin to unintentionally develop a culture of workplace proximity bias, with employees who frequently come in and hold face-to-face conversations being prioritized in the flow of information and favor. These problems should not be taken lightly, because poor communication and preferential bias can easily cause inefficiency to snowball within the organization.
Hybrid Communication Solutions
So how can communication be effectively managed in a hybrid environment? The absolute most important thing to do in the evolving hybrid workplace is to act with intentionality. Pay attention to not just what employees are communicating, but also how they are communicating; especially if teams or individuals are closely collaborating, it’s vital to take the initiative and organize scheduling efforts so that closely affiliated co-workers are in the office at the same time, cutting down on the number of open communication channels.
This is also an area where Human Resources can really step in and be a big help. HR check-ins are important for taking the pulse of employees in general, but in the hybrid era they can also be used to organize collaboration between employees and coordinate what channels of communication those employees are using, helping to put a diverse workplace on the same page. This is something that sounds complicated, but in reality is as simple as asking employees what forms of communication they prefer and using that information to ensure workers are collaborating in ways that are effective for all parties. If one employee prefers acting on emails and another prefers in-person discussion, HR might serve both to remind others to communicate over e-mail when sending information digitally while encouraging relevant teams to come into the office for in-person collaboration on one specific day.
Flexibility Vs. Communicative Efficiency
One of, if not the most serious problem facing hybrid communication structures is the seemingly direct conflict of allowing employees flexible work-from-home schedules against the need to have employees in the office on the same days to cut down the number of open streams of communication. While it’s certainly more of a challenge to get relevant employees to come in at the same time when they have full control over their own schedules, it’s far from impossible.
A fantastic way to encourage employees to come in on certain dates is through hosting in-person events, either for the entire organization or just for the departments you want coming in. These can be anything from hiring an entertainer to give a live show to just a simple slated hour with beer and pizza at the end of the work day. What matters is that these special events are clearly communicated to the relevant employees as an incentive to come into the office on the days you want them in. Plus, unique events like these are a fantastic and often inexpensive way of boosting morale! It’s easy to give workers a fun incentive to build their schedule around. You’ll be able to retain a high level of individual employee flexibility while making sure collaborators are in the office at the same time.
While communication management has certainly become more challenging in the hybrid era, the new difficulties it poses are far from insurmountable. And even the challenges it does provide are significantly outweighed by the benefits, in flexibility and work-life balance among others. Through intentional action and providing incentives that direct employees into the office intelligently, you can cut down on the ballooning amount of communication channels available to employees and, in doing so, curb sensations of being overwhelmed before they even start. An easier way to provide employee stress solutions is through helping their financial security – an ask that PerkSpot can help with, if you’re interested in scheduling a demo to hear how we can save employees money and help promote positive internal culture.