“Leaders become great not because of their power but because of their ability to empower others.”
This is the mantra that Mr. Mainak Maheshwari, Director of Talent Advisory, PeopleAsset, swears by. Presently, Mainak heads the Talent Advisory division of PeopleAsset, an organization that strives to make the right talent and leadership available to organizations. Mr. Maheshwari comes with over two decades of experience, primarily in business and HR roles. He is also a certified executive coach, a Leadership Development expert, and a Hogan personality assessor. Additionally, he holds a patent in the field of capability development.
The global shift to remote work has been one of the most prominent and defining changes in the corporate world caused by the pandemic. As we move into 2022, many industry forecasts predict that hybrid workplaces are here to stay. A recent PeopleAsset survey of leadership members across industries and functions showed that 100% of the respondents were leaning towards a hybrid working model that supports flexibility between working from home as well as office. The unanimous shift towards hybrid models is not a surprise. Since the pandemic, organizations have been trying to find ways to bring the best of both worlds for their employees. Over the last 2 years, employee priorities have changed radically. Individuals today value autonomy and flexibility; and, at the same, they also expect their employers to take their health concerns seriously. Organizations have realized that a hybrid model not only addresses the changing needs of today’s employees, but can also result in long-term benefits like increased employee safety, huge savings on both tangible and intangible resources, and reduced OPEX.
However, the road ahead puts HR leaders and managers on the front lines. Now is the time to rebuild organizational culture to drive success in a hybrid workplace and rethink organizational priorities to align them with those of the employees. It is important to know which soft skills are critical for effective remote work so that leaders can best identify and bring out those skills in their teams.
To navigate and stay ahead in the future of work, HR leaders must cultivate the following 5 skills within the organization:
Yes, the pandemic brought empathy and compassion into the global limelight. As we slowly recover from the psychological aftermath of lockdowns and isolation, HR managers must ensure that empathy remains in focus. For the organization, it is one of the most simple but effective means to increase employee engagement, helping them create consistent, positive experiences for its employee.
Prioritizing empathy every day means collectively working to create a safe environment for everyone. In a hybrid setup, it is of immense value because it helps individuals and teams understand each other’s personal struggles and boundaries, thereby fuelling better teamwork and performance.
- Communication skills
Ambiguity and uncertainty can create a hostile work environment. This is especially true in the case of hybrid workplaces. If an organization lacks honest communication, employees working remotely may feel excluded from important decisions or in-office activities. In the world of hybrid work, HR managers must encourage open communication channels in the organization for and between all employees, regardless of their location of work. Employees need to take intentional steps to reduce communication gaps. Effective communication in a hybrid setup needs to be detailed, clear, and respectful.
Remember, like everything, communication has also changed in the post-pandemic world. All employees need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to use virtual platforms of communication. When hiring new talent or training existing employees, HR managers must prioritize strong communication skills among individuals.
- Building connections
While the virtual world helped stay connected in many ways, it also made it more difficult for employees to form meaningful bonds with their organization or co-workers. With limited opportunities for informal interactions and team bonding, employees have fewer channels to cope with or share their individual struggles, leading to increased anxiety.
As companies implement a hybrid model, the social connections within the office can suffer. This is all the more important in the case of new hires, onboarded virtually. It is important to ensure that working remotely does not translate into working alone. Fortunately, networking has moved online. Whether it is through an internal collaborative space or social media, individuals working in hybrid organizations must utilize the virtual environment to build rapport and foster meaningful connections with their teams and leaders.
- Prioritizing work-life balance
Time and again, we have heard about the importance of work-life balance. The pandemic brought the discussion back into focus, forcing organizations to rethink the work environment their employees operate in.
A hybrid workplace comes with its own challenges in this regard. Blurred lines between personal and professional life can lead to mental and physical fatigue. Before anyone else, individuals must prioritize their own well-being and focus on creating a healthy work-life balance. Practicing this as a collective normalizes a work culture that respects peoples’ boundaries.
- Hunger to learn
With virtual working, learning opportunities can become restricted. There are many barriers that hold employees back, like pandemic fatigue, back-to-back video calls, and meetings that run longer than expected. For long-term success in the hybrid workplace, it is important that employees have a hunger to keep learning and it is even more important for organizations to feed this hunger.
Navigating the uncharted terrains of the future of work demands adaptability and the willingness to learn new skills. This is the only way one can expect to thrive in an ever-changing world.
The future of work calls for a shift in talent and hiring practices. In this new world, organizations must nurture and prioritize skills like adaptability, strong communication skills, and vulnerability to ensure a healthy and successful hybrid work culture.