The Hybrid Era - Keeping the Team Alive!

08 Mar 2022

The Hybrid Era - Keeping the Team Alive!

It was never going to be as simple as just returning to the office, was it. We have become used to the ‘new’ way of working, the shorter or non-existent commute, the endless zoom meetings, the tired-looking pot plant on our makeshift desk. While the ideal scenario may be for everyone to just return to the office, it’s simply not feasible. If we take government guidelines out of the equation there are still many variables at play from both sides, the employer and the employee, meaning the hybrid working environment could well be the future.


A global survey of company leaders and knowledge workers, conducted in September 2021, on the subject of entering the era of hybrid work found that, of those surveyed, 62% are already working from both office and remote locations and the remaining 38% indicated that they don't expect to work fulltime from the office again.

Working from home certainly does have its benefits, so why go back to the office at all?

For some of us, it will be a company mandate or for training that can't be conducted remotely but according to the survey, the top 3 reasons were for Team Building(51%), Collaborating with Colleagues(47%) and Connection to Peers(46%).


With this data in mind, it seems fairly evident that one of the main areas affected by home working is the team connection. So how can we maintain an effective team environment while operating in this hybrid era?


Everyone’s experience of hybrid working will be different and we can’t rely solely on our time in the office to give our team the boost it needs; especially as when you’re in the office some of your team will likely not be.


What works when home working.

Fortunately, the majority of us are ‘experienced’ home workers now, so let’s recap on a few things to keep in mind to help us stay connected, productive and sane while away from the office.



The ideal workspace.

You may well have a dedicated home office/workspace, seeing as you have likely spent the majority of the last 18 months in it, but if the tentative, occasional, steps back into the office have caused you to reclaim the spare bedroom, then here are a few things to remember that we know work.

Peace and quiet

One of the biggest problems with working from home is finding a place away from distractions and background noise. If you still haven't cracked it, or you have a penchant for the local cafe, then you could consider a noise-cancelling app like Krisp. They use what the less technologically-minded of us may describe as wizardry to remove any background noise present, leaving your video calls, and meetings, free from disruption. Simple to use with 240 minutes a week included as part of the free package, it's really worth checking out Krisp.

Natural light

We all know how beneficial natural light is. It's good for the mind and helps keep your circadian rhythm on track. Having your desk near a window is a great place to start and on the nicer days don't be afraid to take the office outside.

Plants

Don't forget the pot plants. Being close to nature has been proven to reduce stress, blood pressure and muscle tension, which in turn will likely have a positive effect on brain function, mood, and productivity. If you can't take the office outside then open a window and bring some outside in!


Structure your day.

Use the commute

If you're used to a long commute then why not use the time, you would be travelling, to prepare for the day ahead; a morning walk, some yoga, a quick meditation or even just an extra cup of tea. Don't fall into the trap of falling out of bed and straight to your desk.


Have a break

Take breaks… lots of breaks throughout the day. Try to coincide your breaks with a friend or colleague, if possible. Dial in and have a good old catch up, just like you’re in the office. There are plenty of video calling platforms to choose from.


Finish work

Remember to finish work. This may sound obvious but it's important to be disciplined about the end of your working day, as well as the start.


Keep the dialogue.

Make a point of checking in with fellow team members, colleagues and friends; sending voice notes are a great way to do this, not only are they easy to record and send, they can be great to receive. The sound of someone else's voice can help you feel connected and you don't need to decipher what the words were meant to be before good old autocorrect had its wicked way. They can also be far less distracting than written messages, as you don't necessarily need to stop what you are doing to send or receive them. Make a conversation last for hours and help pass the day with a smile. If you haven't tried it yet, give them a go.


Returning to the office.

Many of us have returned to the office already and are embracing the hybrid era. Others may be yet to take the plunge for varying reasons. According to the survey, only 8% of those asked didn’t have any concerns about returning to the office; the top concerns, for those who had them, were focused around safety, which comes as no surprise. When we are encouraged to stay away from people for such a long time there’s no wonder that we would want to see some measures put in place before we venture out.


Struggling with the change?

If someone in your team is struggling, this can have a negative effect on productivity as well as team morale. We all experience our own version of reality. So how do we navigate working alongside our colleagues again, when we are all experiencing things differently? If you are one of the 8% then you won’t have any problems but it does mean that the majority of your colleagues may be experiencing some form of anxiety, or have safety concerns when it comes to group interactions; these could be using shared devices, maximum room capacity and sufficient space for adequate physical distancing, and not knowing when a room was last cleaned. If this is you then here are a few steps to help make the transition easier.



Take it slow

If you haven't ventured out much in the last 2 years then don’t be afraid to phase your return. Try meeting a work colleague for a coffee or a walk outside, away from the office. Meeting up socially ensures a relaxed but controlled environment for you to ease yourself in gently and give you confidence.


Know the guidelines

Make yourself aware of the safety measures and guidelines that are in place at your office. This may give you some peace of mind if needed, as well as an opportunity to suggest other measures if you feel they would be beneficial.



Share your concerns

Don’t be afraid to share your concerns and be respectful of how others feel too. Communication is key in all areas of life. If your colleagues are aware of your concerns then they will be in a better position to help. Also, your concerns may be shared by others; so together you can come up with a collective solution.


Keep going

The more you do something, the easier it becomes; this is true for developing new skills as well as reviving old habits.

Adopting a hybrid working structure may be a choice or it may be company led; whatever the reason, we hope this has given you some useful things to think about.

Remember you are never alone, regardless of where you call ‘the office’, and with a GiftRound Collection, everyone can be included in the office whip-round wherever they are, making it easier than ever to celebrate together and show your team you care.


We'd love to hear about your hybrid working experiences, what works and what doesn't and the things you do to keep the team alive.