March 25, 2021

Centering inclusion in the hybrid workforce

The events of the past year have brought out our teams’ most resilient traits and highlighted our adaptability as we quickly adjusted to new work-from-home conditions. We didn’t know we’d have to make this rapid adaptation a year ago, yet we pulled it off. Now, on the precipice of wide vaccine distribution, the return to the workplace begins. As we push forward into the next phase of building a new normal, the hybrid workforce appears to be a logical next step for many organizations. 

How can we set ourselves up for success as we continue to navigate and adapt to new workspace dynamics? It’s imperative to build DEI initiatives into the fabric of whatever phase comes next for your company.

A panel of our Bravely Pros recently came together to discuss the last 12 months of coaching and cultivating a sense of belonging. This post summarizes that conversation and offers advice on how to center inclusion in our new models of work.

Coaching is for YOU 

This moment of transition is sure to bring a dose of chaos with it. Coaching and manager training can help your teammates feel supported and seen in this tough moment following a year of tough moments. Historically, coaching has been reserved for the top tier of leaders, often reactively or punitively (think, the CEO of a poorly-performing company getting executive coaching). Bravely is dedicated to democratizing coaching and providing access to employees at every level.  

Bravely coaches see employees at every level utilizing coaching to:

  • Cultivate new relationship and nurture current relationships
  • Build communication and leadership skills (88% of Bravely users report gaining a skill they can apply to their work, in areas like managing up, stress reduction, and self-awareness.)
  • Hone agility and ability to adapt 
  • Brainstorm self-care and time management 
  • As a safe space to vent and seek reflection

Flexibility is key 

A hybrid model can provide an unprecedented level of flexibility to employees. By allowing employees to choose how, where, and when they work, we create a more personalized approach to an employee’s needs. More options mean more self-determination, which leads to higher engagement and productivity and is an act of inclusion. 

Flexibility depends on leadership based in trust, not control. Rather than stressing a team’s input, trust-based leadership focuses on the team’s overall output; this holistic emphasis takes employees’ needs into account and adjusts accordingly. 

Reflection Question: How can you harness the collective momentum in this moment of cultural change to evolve your company culture and emphasize the necessity for diversity and inclusion? 

Shift the culture

While the hybrid model provides exciting changes to the traditional workspace, it offers a significant obstacle and fear: one company, two distinctly different cultures. To avoid this, consider asking: How can we actively work to reflect our company culture both in the office and remotely?

Just as DEI has become non-negotiable, understanding what it means to be a human in the workplace has become an imperative for leaders seeking to establish inclusion as a fundamental aspect of any and every work environment.

Three ways to combat hybrid workplace disconnection 

  • Be explicit in your communication
    •  “Because we are virtual, communication gets dropped. Be intentional and explicit to give the best understanding of what’s happening,” says Bravely Pro Justin Shaddix.
  • Thoughtful onboarding 
    •  “The first 90 days is the moment we capture and retain [new employees]. That experience informs their tenure at the company. Managers should be cognizant of setting up one-on-one meetings with all core team members that a new hire should be interacting with,” says Michelle Yu. 
  • Leadership sets the example 
    • Ensure that leaders are modeling the behaviors they wish to see in their employees. For example, if your organization truly hopes to see a 50/50 mix of in-person and remote team members, aim for the same split in your leadership and hold yourselves accountable to the same best practices you’re holding the rest of the team to.

Pro Tip: Identify your support team 

Professional coaching can provide a sounding board to your people as they navigate challenges in uniquely difficult times. Bravely Pros offer a safe space for employees to vent, get feedback, workshop an idea, roleplay a conversation, learn to advocate for themselves or others, and identify the skills and areas that might need improvement in their professional lives.

In our conversation, Dion Bullock, Bravely DEIB strategist and Pro, shared that “the backdrop of dramatic shifts has forced us to bring our whole selves to work.” As we grow in the ability to bring our authentic selves to work, whether at home or the office, we actively ensure that we reflect our company culture within the hybrid model.

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