Some colleagues thrive on the partial return to the office. Others in this new situation may need more support to find their voice, maintain meaningful relationships with colleagues, and make the most of their team. How do you support different work styles?
According to our recent research, most employees in hybrid work environments have one of these 3 signature collaboration styles:
Employees belonging to these three groups work best under different circumstances. But regardless of your collaboration style… As long as we think about how the digital tools we use to stay connected to everyone’s needs, everyone can feel at home in a hybrid work environment.
Three collaboration styles
The hybrid workplace offers several opportunities and challenges for employees with different communication and collaboration styles:
According to the research this group takes a more thoughtful collaborative approach. They are more likely than their peers to say that virtual meetings are all about colleagues talking, rather than getting things done (65 percent versus 59 percent of all respondents).
These employees feel more comfortable working from home where virtual contact predominates, rather than an open office environment and crowded meeting rooms.
A hybrid environment presents employees with an introspective collaboration style with new challenges. Home workers are more likely to be overlooked during meetings if the organizer is physically in the office. This applies twice as much to employees who communicate more thoughtfully. It is important to ensure that even their input is included in virtual group meetings, even if they are less likely to come to the fore.
At the other end of the spectrum are the relational employees. These highly interactive employees thrive on meaningful connections with colleagues. They prefer software that enables direct collaboration between colleagues. They are more likely than their peers to say that attending virtual meetings costs energy because they feel less engaged (56 percent versus 44 percent).
During the corona crisis, these employees struggled with the lack of personal interaction with colleagues. The return to the office was a breath of fresh air for many of them. But according to 90 percent of the respondents, digital collaboration is here to stay. So the challenge in a hybrid environment is to keep relational employees engaged both physically and online.
This group strongly feels the need to outline their thought processes. They are more likely than their peers to say that gifs and emojis help them express themselves (69 percent versus 58 percent). The move to work from home meant they could no longer use whiteboards and sticky notes. Collaboration tools with support for interactive charts, drawings, and graphics more than compensated, however.
56 percent of all respondents believe that virtual meetings are dominated by the loudest, most active participants. It is important for expressive employees that their visual way of expressing themselves is not forgotten. And that they are expressly given the space to communicate in their own way during meetings.
An inclusive workplace
Organizations can immediately take a number of simple measures to support all collaboration styles within hybrid work environments.
The first is to set a clear agenda in the run-up to meetings and ensure that all participants at home and in the office receive a copy. During the meeting, ask for input from all participants. This is especially important during unstructured discussions. Spontaneous conversations are great for generating ideas, but it’s important that everyone stays engaged. It is important to note all important (action) points and to ensure that all participants receive a copy of these as well.
Diverse Collaboration Styles
Optimal digital collaboration requires the availability of flexible tools that lend themselves to diverse working styles. For example, introspective team members will prefer not to be in the picture during video meetings, but will be happy to type comments. In that case, they will still want their input to be included. Expressive team members will want to discuss topics using images and graphs.
Providing employees with tools that support various collaboration styles does not guarantee successful collaboration. You cannot underestimate the role of effective training. Without good training and implementation processes, you run the risk that not everyone knows the guidelines for collaboration or makes good use of the applications. That way you still work in silos.
Managers would therefore do well to apply a similar perspective to their employees as they would to a potential customer or business associate. Consider what their problems are and what systems they already have in use. Think about the interactions that new applications can have with existing collaboration processes and communications.
Also during the implementation process and the impact of your new system, it is important to take into account that employees have different collaboration styles. Does each type of employee use the solutions equally and in the same way, and how does this work? To become more aware of this, it can be helpful to keep documentation of this. This awareness of how everyone handles the solution can also help employees collaborate among themselves. That is why it is important to make this documentation accessible to everyone.
Finally, appointing a team member as a content expert and internal ambassador for a tool can contribute to the implementation of new solutions. This team member can take on the role of permanent point of contact for colleagues. This can help make the solution accessible to every person, regardless of their way of working.
Taking work styles into account
Whatever course organizations take, it’s important that they adopt an inclusive collaborative approach that supports the diverse needs of their employees. To what extent do you already take this into account?
Source: Frankwatching by www.frankwatching.com.
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