The hybrid work model is causing organizations to adapt and figure out what operates best while making sure to stick to an inclusive work environment as employees work from home or on-site.
To support a flexible and virtual culture in a post-pandemic hybrid workplace, Advanced Workplaces Associates, with its “Managing the Virtual Workplace” report, revealed that social cohesion, perceived supervisory support, information sharing, vision and goal clarity, external communications and trust are the six critical factors organizations must prioritize that will strengthen and motivate their workforces and drive sustained business success.
“In the old world, with water cooler moments, we spent more time with each other and learned information about each other easily,” said Advanced Workplace Associates Founder and Managing Director Andrew Mawson during a panel discussion moderated by Jon Arnold, principal at J Arnold & Associates, at ITEXPO 2022. “In a world where people work away and spend more time away, it’s important to recreate some of those things we lost.”
Social cohesion is a shared liking or team attraction that includes bonds of friendship, closeness and the enjoyment of each other’s company. Essentially, knowing more people and knowing them well will result in more generosity with knowledge to help build a picture of who knows what, within teams and workplace communities.
“We need to hire based on mindset. If you get the right mindset, it is a lot easier to build cohesion,” said Graham Bevington, executive vice president and chief sales officer at Mitel. “You want to understand the person.”
Perceived supervisory support refers to how employees feel their supervisor has helped them in times of need, praised them for a job well done or recognized them for extra effort.
“What you perceive as being supportive might not be what I perceive as being supportive,” said Mawson. “When people feel they are being supported, they go beyond.”
Information sharing will allow colleagues to share knowledge and skills with each other without the fear that the individual will experience a loss and that the team will gain as a consequence.
Vision refers to the organization's objectives and purpose – what it is trying to achieve. For people’s work to have meaning, it is important that they understand how their efforts contribute to that overall mission, referred to as goal clarity.
“People will give you more and feel more engaged with the organization’s goals if they can see the link of what the organizations want to do and what they do,” said Mawson.
External communication is the desire to seek information from outside of an inner circle. People within the organization should look outside their inner circle for new ideas and knowledge to bring back into their own knowledge to stay challenged.
“External communication is an antidote for organizational arrogance,” said Mawson. “Take the knowledge you have and expose it to other people.”
Trust is an expectation that someone else’s actions will be a benefit and not be based on self-interest. With trust, colleagues will have each other's back and they can be open, reveal true feelings and be generous with ideas and knowledge without fear that they will be disadvantaged.
“Having feedback more than once or twice a year and have coaching with peers in the normal flow of work can help build trust,” said Jamie Aitken, vice president, HR transformation at Betterworks. “When you are having those conversations, you feel like your boss and your team have your back.”
These six factors, Mawson reiterated, need to be focused on more intentionally for organizations to keep their employees motivated to drive business success.
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