The great movement to remote work has revealed more than a few surprising discoveries. One is that remote work can increase daily productivity for any employee who has an office and few distractions at home. Many pre-pandemic employers once assumed that any telecommute day would result in vacation activities, but really we have seen a boost in focused, head-down productivity from un-distracted professionals.
Unfortunately, a second discovery is that we are sacrificing creativity and innovation for this linear productivity. This is known as the Hybrid Work Paradox.
Microsoft Study Reveals the Hybrid Paradox
Productivity is Up, Creativity is Down
A recent study of 61,182 Microsoft employees sought to examine the real over-time impact of remote work on individuals, teams, and business performance. The study found that employees working remotely were able to put in more hours and achieve greater productivity, but the isolated nature of remote work also a profound effect on collaboration, cross-team networking, and a team’s ability to generate creative ideas through shared communication.
Reduced Synchronous Communication
Among the 61 thousand participants, synchronous communication (real time) dropped significantly while asynchronous methods like email, voicemail, and message board chat increased. At the same time, employees began talking less and less with people who were not on their direct team, and daily communication between teams tended to decrease as the effort to communicate (logging in and camming up vs chatting in the break room) increased.
Creative Teams are the Hardest Hit
Teams that rely on collaboration to come up with creative and innovative ideas have suffered the most. An increase in communication silos (isolated groups and conversations) and the difficulty threshold to meet an entire team in a real-time conversation when working remotely has negatively impacted creative teams’ ability to create.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has coined this the “Hybrid Work Paradox” where productivity and creativity are inversely affected by remote work.
Solving the Hybrid Work Paradox in Your Workplace
The hybrid work paradox raises the question: How do companies maintain the real-time, creative and collaborative conversations that lead to innovative solutions? What we are seeing is a hiccup in circumstance and technology – where solutions have not yet caught up to the problems caused by an all-new way of doing things. Zoom is clunky and the Metaverse is not yet approachable for everyone, which puts the ball in your court.
Teams Develop New Ways to Work Together
Teams need new workflows. When meeting around the coffee pot isn’t an option anymore, it’s time to build new flows for team collaboration. This means finding an easy-to-use platform, choosing a video or perhaps just voice-only for synchronous communication, and getting used to being creative under new circumstances. The key is to remove the hurdles between your team and their ability to collaborate freely.
Work with Complete and Functional Technology
Working with half-effective, outdated, and incomplete tools is a hallmark of the remote work era. But it doesn’t have to be. Remote and hybrid work require a certain set of collaboration, tracking, and professional tools to do their jobs and you can find complete technological solutions for these requirements. Better online platforms, providers, and cloud security are necessary. Tools that work together and workflows that don’t require opening five different programs will reduce remote work stress and increase productivity.
Focus on Corporate Leadership Training
One of the biggest reveals of early remote work was that managers make the difference. Teams who had someone take charge and actively keep the remote team synchronized made the transition to remote work more smoothly and thrived as cohesive online teams. However, teams with either absent or micro-managing leaders struggled to remain cohesive or productive.
Leadership matters. Make sure your managers and execs all participate in Corporate Leadership Training with a focus on how to aptly manage a remote and hybrid team.
Train Digital Interpersonal Skills
Interpersonal skills have never mattered more. Remote teams have trouble connecting, which means both the ability to reach out and politely give way are essential to an online synchronous conversation. A little interpersonal training can help everyone work together more smoothly through a video, voice, or metaverse meeting. Psychometric tests can help by guiding your employees to understand themselves and their colleagues better around the virtual meeting table.
Virtual training events and even gamified situational simulators can help your team learn interpersonal skills in a remote and online way that will also enhance their ability to communicate and collaborate remotely with team members. Interpersonal skill shave become paramount, and digital soft skills have become a new and essential variant when working with anyone indirectly at any time.
Provide Ample Support for Your Remote Teams
Many remote workers feel isolated without sufficient technical support or security services. However, remote technology also makes it possible to provide excellent technical support, corporate support, and even remote control of a workstation. This means that complete and satisfactory remote support for your at-home and hybrid teams is closer than most businesses may realize.
Innovate a Hybrid-Ready Workplace
While much of preparing for hybrid teams have focused on adapting to the remote half of the equation, workplaces are also evolving. More flexible, scalable workplace designs are a practical choice when your teams are in the office less, and take turns who is arriving to use equipment or collaborate each week. Tools like isolved by the Platnium Group make it easy to handle the intricacies of hybrid human management.
Practice New Remote/Hybrid Working Techniques
Finally, practice makes perfect. You can’t just talk about the best way to do things, it’s important for everyone put those lessons to use. You can run test and simulation scenarios even before you have a complete new workflow ready. In fact, a few practice runs with collaboration and networking skills can help your team rebuild their own new collaborative workflow using what they’ve learned.
What is the solution to the hybrid work paradox? With such a new challenge, teams today are innovating the solutions at the very moment. Each team may find its own unique set of techniques, tools, and skills that help them collaborate despite the barriers spotlighted in recent studies.
Ready to discover new collaboration methods and put those lessons to the test? Ready to provide your team with the technology and support they need to thrive as a remote and hybrid workforce? Contact us today to see how our HCM platform, isolved can support your hybrid team.
ABOUT PLATINUM GROUP
Platinum Group is a human capital management resource with solutions to help you streamline operations so you’ll have time to manage your business. No matter which division you work with: Payroll/HR or Accounting, our team is built upon a foundation of support, service, camaraderie and collaboration that we share both in-house and with our wonderful clients. For more information about Platinum Group, or to schedule a demo of iSolved, please visit our website.