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Step into post-pandemic hybrid work culture with more of yourself

It’s the human skills often referred to as “soft skills” such as empathy and self-awareness that enable us to successfully navigate the ever-evolving workplace, power-up collaboration, and improve wellbeing at work. An emotional quotient, also known as emotional intelligence, plays an important role in how we manage change – perceive our own and other’s emotions and respond in way that helps us thrive.

It was only last year that we were adapting to a new remote work culture. Needless to say, it was necessary to succeed in the raging pandemic–and we know how need inspires innovation! Once again, technology helped us to celebrate our work, collaborate, and stay connected across several hundred miles. Remote work was referred to as the “new normal,” and the pandemic acted as a forcing function to accelerate this type of work for many people. Remote work brings us flexibility, increased productivity, a geo-diverse workforce, and reduced costs. On the flip side, it caused digital exhaustion, network shrinkage, and shifted work-life balance. Remote work is here to stay, but for it to be most beneficial, it needs to evolve.

As we race to get vaccinated, hybrid workplaces are starting to take shape. An increasing number of organizations are reviewing studies and surveys to understand how remote work has impacted their workforce and whether they should create a hybrid model. After all, we are not ready to go back to the pre-pandemic world of work. For many, an ideal hybrid workplace is one that empowers employees to make their own choices such as when, how, and from where to work. This model helps employees maintain balance and control over their time, on their terms. A big part of adapting to any shift involves growing and leveraging emotional intelligence. Driving greater value out of the hybrid workplace will require a shift in our emotional quotient. Here’s how you can start:

    • Invest in relationships: Remote work enables organizations to bring in talent across regions, bringing much-needed diversity to the workplace. As we set sail with hybrid culture, you will have the opportunity to connect in-person again with some of your team members. However, team members who work remotely may miss out on in-person interactions which are more conducive to forming relationships at work. Bumping into co-workers in the elevator, having hallway conversations, or white boarding with your team are natural workplace activities. Some self-awareness on our part can help to break away from this pattern of only engaging informally in-person and appreciate other relationships with people working remote. Organizing virtual coffee breaks and happy hours are some of the ways to bring the groups together. Also, never underestimate the power of simple check-ins on our co-workers’ everyday life, their health and wellbeing. It will help inculcate a sense of belongingness within our remote team members which is important for voicing ideas with confidence and sharing accountability.
    • Drive collaboration with technology: Process silos, especially with remote teams, block creativity and hamper collaboration. In hybrid environments, while some will have in-person interactions which spark collaborative problem solving, others working remote may feel that they are losing out on opportunities. So, bring out your team-building skills to drive inclusiveness. Leverage collaborative tools such as Microsoft Teams and Asana to share opportunities and ideas, and to inspire transparency within your team. Encourage collective brainstorming sessions and be receptive towards diverse perspectives. Give everyone the mic!
    • Improve wellbeing at work: The concept of wellness at work has expanded beyond a list of physical healthcare benefits since the pandemic. Now, employee wellbeing encapsulates physical and mental health, awareness of self and the people around, resilience, productivity management, learning, and career development. Organizations focusing on this holistic approach towards employee wellbeing are seeing an uptick in their performance. To walk the talk, we need a shift in leadership skills. Build a more holistic workplace culture by expanding the dialogue about different dimensions of wellbeing such as emotional, mental, physical, and family health. One great way to put wellness on our minds is to put it on our work calendars. Organizing wellness weeks with sessions from area experts and virtual activities such as yoga can be helpful. You can also leverage tools such as Microsoft Teams to create groups where team members can share and celebrate their wellness goals.

Change brings opportunities. While hard skills are measurable, tangible, and often considered the focus areas for growth, an adaptive emotional quotient empowers us to be more! With shifting workplace culture in the post-pandemic world, we will need to find meaningful ways to nurture workplace relationships whether remote or in-person. Fortunately, we can leverage technology to materialize our creative ideas for building a more holistic workplace while also driving effective collaboration and increasing productivity.

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