Whether you’re a video creator, learning and development professional, or even a software engineer, your industry is probably embracing hybrid work in one way or another.
Hybrid work isn’t a challenge we can master overnight, but all it takes is the right information to get you moving in the right direction. Michelle Massey, VP of Community Outreach and Customer Operations at TechSmith, joins this episode of The Visual Lounge to share some practical steps and advice that make for a more wholesome hybrid work environment.
She talks about organizational culture and how it affects the hybrid work setup and doles out a few tips on communicating better in a hybrid work environment.
Watch the full interview here: https://youtu.be/z5gaL3UA9wE
Michelle is responsible for maximizing the impact of the customer experience and growing TechSmith’s philanthropic impact in K 12. education.
As well as having over 25 years of IT industry experience, she’s also well-versed in community engagement, business operations, corporate planning, and proposal development. She received the 2021 Athena Leadership Award and Downtown Lansing Inks Downtown Dreamer Award for her contributions to the Lansing community.
To listen to the full podcast episode, hit play below.
What is hybrid work?
Hybrid work is when people work from different locations — some work from home full-time, others work in the office, while the rest combine both work setups.
But that’s not all there is to consider when it comes to hybrid work.
The main challenge of hybrid work is ensuring that everyone gets the same corporate experience.
Let’s take a simple meeting as an example. How do you make that shared experience the same for the people who aren’t physically present? Their vision and ideas are still valid and need to be heard by the group.
As Michelle tells us:
“That’s where tools, norms, and practices come in.”
Why the topic of hybrid work is important
First, the world has changed drastically over the past couple of years, and there’s no going back.
Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people rely more heavily on remote tools than ever before. We are now entirely in the age of Slack, Zoom, Teams, and other similar tools.
And it’s not just that way in the business world either. We’ve had to figure out how to weave hybrid living into our world in our personal lives.
Even if you’re not working in a hybrid environment, most of us still interact virtually. And technology is key to making all that possible.
Sadly, when the topic of tech comes up, some people start to get nervous.
But in today’s world, it’s essential to know how to use technology to make our businesses and personal lives better. New software, tools, and apps will keep popping up, but we must learn how to wield them. And once you know how to use these tools effectively, your life becomes much more manageable.
Addressing organizational culture in hybrid work environments
Research shows that one of the biggest concerns companies have today is losing their culture in the hybrid environment.
Especially in the tech industry, people are always looking for ways to either:
- Differentiate themselves from the competition, or
- Just differentiate themselves from others, trying to enhance their own set of employees
With the talent drain, there are lots of jobs available and not enough people looking to fill them.
So, what do you do if you can’t bring potential hires into the office to experience how your company is different?
Michelle’s simple solution isn’t to completely change the company culture. Instead, it’s about adapting it to suit all parties involved. So, if your culture is about transparency, integrity, and honesty, don’t throw those out the window. Figure out how to enhance them in a hybrid environment.
There are various ways to think about organizational culture, but the best way to approach it in a hybrid environment is to focus on good communication.
Leaders need to make sure they’re not just communicating to people but also listening to and understanding them. Employees also need to realize that many leaders are navigating uncharted territory at this point.
“So, for both parties, a little bit of grace, a little bit of understanding, and then also being able to let each other know what’s working and what isn’t in a constructive way is what’s needed.”
Tips for enhancing meetings and communication in hybrid work environments
It’s clear that communication is key in hybrid workspaces. Michelle shares a few tips she’s gathered over Communication is critical in hybrid workspaces. Michelle shares a few tips she’s gathered over her many years of leadership.
1. The proper equipment matters
First things first, make sure that everyone has the right tools, they’re operational, and that they know how to use them. That may include looking at bandwidth, Wi-Fi connections, microphones, and even computers. Consider equipment both in and out of the office to ensure that the same experience is shared.
2. Don’t assume everyone knows how to use the tech available
Even if everyone knew the ins and outs of using specific tech before the lockdown, don’t assume they all still remember now. It’s easy enough for things to slip people’s minds, especially if they’re not regularly practicing with them.
A solution is to offer little refreshers to ensure that people understand the tools and technology at their disposal.
3. Have meeting norms
Meetings in hybrid work environments may seem pretty much the same on the surface, but there are a few nuances to consider.
In a typical meeting, people just jump in, throw up agendas, and everyone dives in. But it’s not as easy to pull off in a hybrid work environment. You need some good norms and rules of thumb so that people feel comfortable when it’s time to speak up and contribute.
A few things Michelle mentions include:
- Zoom to zoom: It’s easy for a few voices to get lost in the mix over Zoom calls. Ensure everyone has an opportunity to speak or share their thoughts during the meeting.
- Use collaboration tools: People should be able to ask questions and receive feedback, and collaboration tools are one way to go about this. It’s also great because no one feels singled out, and people feel more at ease when expressing themselves.
- Record meetings: Not everyone will attend every meeting, so if there’s a shared file or drive they can access to get the lowdown, it’ll streamline operations.
Not every meeting needs to be a meeting either! Michelle says asynchronous communication tools like Snagit that allow you to capture your screen and make quick, informal videos have opened up a whole new world of communication and employee creativity.
Michelle says asynchronous video messages can allow leadership to communicate consistently without the challenges of aligning schedules or getting everyone in the same room for a “town hall.”