How to fit into a hybrid office 'environment'
Top tips on how to integrate yourself into a physical/virtual global office.
It’s no secret that the pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we (all) work. First there was the thrill of WFH, and the work-life balance it promised to bring with it. Now it’s the drone of WFH and the complete work-life imbalance that has stemmed from it.
For Because, the past year highlighted the fact that there isn’t really a need for an office. It also highlighted the fact that our Because family wants one. We want to have the option of connecting and working with our colleagues face-to-face, but we also want to work in our pj's every now and again. So, as lockdowns begin to lift in various phases across the globe and people start stepping out into the world, we’re once again adapting our ways of working, but this time, it’s going to be a hybrid model.
We’re in a fortunate position where we’re once again staffing up most of our offices, and as we’re truly working without boarders (people in South Africa servicing the UK, people in Singapore servicing Australia... ) we’ve had to create a hybrid model that works for our global team taking different country’s holidays, time zones etc. into account. But as good as our model may be, we recognise how daunting it must be for our new Because family members to integrate themselves into a physical/virtual global team. To help them with this, in their induction packs we include some useful pointers to consider when they join us. And as we’re not the only agency staffing up and moving into a hybrid way of working, we thought it would be helpful to share some of them with you too in the event they could help your new employees, or you if you are the new employee, settle in.
GET TO KNOW YOUR COMPANY'S CULTURE.
Culture isn’t just about after-work drinks and end-of-year parties (made evident in lockdown). It ranges from how people dress, talk and sign off their emails, to reward structures and your managers’ leadership style. To get a feel for your new company’s culture, ask to see their guidelines (if they aren’t provided at your induction), read their blog if they have one (like we do), take a look at their social media accounts and pay attention to the day-to-day work environment both online and IRL. Then ‘activate’.
At Because we have a big ‘thank-you’ culture. The simple act of saying “thank you” in person or online makes people feel valued and appreciated. It’s also just a nice thing to do. As a new employee, if you ‘activate’ a small part of what makes up your company culture, you’ll find your new colleagues will warm to you and will want to make you feel part of the team.
You can also step up to a social role, join a cultural team if your company has one (Because has four Champion Teams), organise a night out (if your lockdown level allows) or host a Zoom ‘Ted Talk’ with someone interesting you know (if it doesn‘t). Doing this will give you an opportunity to engage with your colleagues in a more relaxed ‘setting‘, and speak to people outside of your working group.
COMMUNICATION REALLY IS KEY.
When an office isn’t a constant, communication really does become key. It’s easy to sit quietly during group Zoom meetings when you’re new. While internally you’re trying to wrap your head around what everyone’s talking about, try and contribute where you can, either by asking questions or sharing what you’re working on. It might not seem as relevant as everyone else’s agenda, but they will be interested to see how you’re tracking. And having a voice matters, so try think in advance how you can contribute and add real value to the call.
It can also be hard to really get to know people when you aren’t in an office daily. The likelihood of walking past someone’s desk and coincidentally establishing you both have a penchant for death metal is somewhat diminished. So, contribute to group chats. Share a playlist you like, some work inspiration or articles relevant to a project you’re on or brand you’ve worked with. Doing this will not only be helpful, but it will give your team some insight into your character and interests.
TIME IS REALLY OF THE ESSENCE.
Having a hybrid way of working means not everyone is going to be in the same place at the same time. So, if you need to meet with someone in-person, make sure you coordinate your in-office schedules.
It’s also important to use the right channel at the right time, for the right exchange. Prioritise your internal contact through a mix of mediums; the key four being video, phone, email and instant messaging. Think which works best for what purpose. Maybe have written emails, video tutorials and documents on file as learning resources, phone calls to debrief, find context and ask any initial questions, and a short message system for quick comms like questions or clarifications that pop up along the way. Think about the way in which you work best and ask your peers what works for them and the business... and then find a happy medium.
Starting a new job, meeting a new team and finding your place at the table is always exciting, but it can also be daunting - no matter how welcoming people are. Add remote working and a global office to the whole situation, and it’s enough to send stress levels soaring. Having gone through the polarising ups and downs of WFH, we’re hoping the new hybrid way of working will be the perfect balance for our Because team and other companies adopting the same approach. It may take some getting used to, and, like anything new, it’s going to have its hurdles, but the more we can help our new family members integrate themselves into the agency, the quicker they’ll become a valued (and valuable) part of the team.
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