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How to embrace blended working: the communications revolution

‘This is the professional opportunity of a lifetime to curate and create new ways of working’.

On 21 September 2021, Company Matters welcomed Paul Weedon back to our screens for our latest Ahead programme webcast: ‘The future is bright: the future is blended’.

Paul is a video communications expert with over four years of experience leading teams in a blended environment. His session set out to tell our audience of governance professionals how they can experiment with powerful and positive tools to find what work best for them, their teams and their clients in the new working world.

Watch the webcast

Perspective

What is the new normal? Paul tells us it’s anything we want it to be, within reason. We are being offered the professional opportunity of a lifetime to curate and create new ways of working.

Our nine-to-five framework was fit-for-purpose during the industrial revolution over 200 years ago, but remote working has initiated the communications revolution. It’s time to look inwards as individuals and teams so we embrace start controlled, intelligent and considered experiments.

Paul asks us to consider – why do we like going to the office? There are many reasons from social interaction and commutes to structure and routines. But what might the wrong reasons be?

Balance of power

Blended means some people work from home and some from the office. Paul reminds us that we behave slightly differently even if we don’t know it; we might be more relaxed and personal at home but more authoritative in the office. This contrast could create a feeling of unbalanced power on a video call between a group of office-workers and home-workers.

Home-workers could also feel isolated on a call alone facing a group onscreen in the office. This can be intimidating and could emotionally disconnect people at home, leaving them less confident to contribute.

We don’t want anyone to think, ‘I should have gone to the office for that’.

Renowned tech companies have the budgets to experiment – e.g. life-size screens scattered around the meeting room – but most organisations don’t, so what can we do?

If you have the right office space, experiment with callers in different rooms so everyone is in a similar environment.

Big news should be communicated in a way that gives employees the opportunity to reflect with each other – whether they’re at home or in the office. For example, try delivering your big news through a video call regardless of where everyone is. Then ensure you are available after the call to discuss, or allow your employees to stay on to reflect.

Foundations

Paul recommends we erase bad habits before they begin.

The language we have started to use to differentiate between the office and home can leave confusion and alter good decision-making. For example, ‘face-to-face’ is a misused phrase as video calls are no different.

We should also be honest about our hesitations. Many will still feel uneasy about physical contact in the office and it’s important to be open and respect others.

In terms of freedom, try to set a structure that isn’t too narrow for returning to the office: if you set strict guidelines for when employees come in, there’s no room for experimenting.

Hygiene factors

Paul explores a new way of looking at the well-known Herzberg two-factor theory, created over 60 years ago to measure job satisfaction.

For example, company policies should now include redefined office space to accommodate for blended working and blocked out diaries for Zoom/Team-free hours.

People don’t need to be supervised from within the same room, and we should ensure we are taking the micro-breaks at home that would naturally take place in the office.

To increase physical activity at home, try walking around more and getting fresh air outside. Even try standing during a call (but ensure the camera is still positioned straight ahead so you aren’t intimidating).

We all remember ‘the game’: getting to the office early and working overtime to be more visible to  seniors team members. The game still exists but the rules have changed; to make a good impression, be present and focused on your video calls and work on your personal branding such as LinkedIn.

Motivators

Achievements and recognition are still key drivers at work.

Make sure you recognise your group wins regularly and to everyone regardless of their location. Try not isolate anyone by communicating these with people physically around you before those at home.

In the office, we are more likely to ask for advice from those nearby. But at home we can embrace a broader range of options and expertise as we can ask anyone in our organisation.

Paul reminds us that early interviews taking place over video call might make the interviewee less nervous and more comfortable, and therefore more honest.

And finally – when it comes to growth, who can prosper in this new era? You can! Experiment with blended working to find what works for you; the opportunities are endless.

Watch the webcast

Download the presentation slides

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