17 March 2021|Latest Posts, Resources
By Ingrid Ødegaard, co-founder & Chief Product and Technology Officer at Whereby
Humans are social beings. We’re at our best when we feel connected with each other and can work together effectively. As the world looks ahead to the future of work, many businesses are considering a move towards a hybrid office model, allowing many to continue to work from home if they prefer. .
Hybrid offices have the potential to bring huge work-life-balance benefits, giving employees greater flexibility with when and where they work while retaining the social element of the office.
For the hybrid office to work, the most important quality founders need is trust. Trust that colleagues can work equally effectively at home or in the office, and trust that each employee knows how to plan their day to get the most out of it.
Beyond trust, I’ve shared four practical pieces of advice you can adopt to get the best out of your team, wherever they’re working.
Give employees flexibility
It’s crucial employees know that their wellbeing is important to you. Working from home indefinitely can sometimes cause feelings of isolation. To combat this, founders can champion individual freedom by giving employees the space to set up their work days in a way that works for them. This might mean setting aside time for colleagues to exercise or help their children with homeschooling.
There’s a danger that, as workplaces transition to a hybrid system, businesses will start to go backwards. It’s crucial that working from the office and at home are treated with equal importance. Key information needs to be shared, and important meetings take place, wherever employees are located for working from the office or at home to be weighted equally . Now is a great time to adopt a long-term approach and introduce flexible working policies to ensure your hybrid office will be a success.
Mental wellbeing is also super important. As a founder, you want to establish a culture where employees feel comfortable sharing tips and advice on non-work topics like books or meditation. Little touches such as encouraging managers to regularly check in with their teams and be generous with allocating time off for training or personal matters can go a long way.
Video meetings are there to help you reach a desired outcome faster. They won’t always be necessary – but features like Whereby’s screen sharing help to remotely recreate some aspects of in-person meetings.
Screen sharing is a great tool for ensuring effective remote collaboration. Colleagues or clients can see the same information you are viewing, meaning online documents can be worked on together whether team members are at home or in the office.
Each participant can control the window the team sees and display pages or slides to focus the meeting. With screen sharing, presentations are more engaging and discussions are more illuminating as everyone is able to easily access the same information.
On Whereby, meetings can also be recorded and shared later with anyone not present. YouTube, Miro, Google Docs, and Trello integrations allow everyone to collaborate in the same window within the room. As a meeting host, you can open the Miro board or a shared Google Doc so everyone is looking at the same thing – ideal for sharing ideas and quickly resolving questions.
Hold engaging meetings
Before scheduling a meeting, ask yourself if you actually need it. If the answer is ‘no’, think about alternative communication channels your team can use. If the answer is ‘yes’, then there are many ways to make meetings enjoyable and productive for everyone.
The fundamentals of running an engaging in-person meeting are still valid. Circulate an agenda before so everyone shares a desired outcome. Ensuring time is correctly allocated to each item on the agenda will mean you start and finish on time.
Ideally, everyone other than the speaker should be muted to minimise background noise. You can still show your appreciation for a great point from a colleague with an emoji reaction or supportive chat messages.
Ask the right questions
Have you ever really got an insightful response from just asking someone how they are? Usually people will deflect with a ‘fine’ or ‘not too bad’ – which doesn’t really give you any idea what is actually going on in their world. Instead, here are three questions you can use at the start to foster a positive team spirit.
What did you learn this weekend?
This could be something as simple as a shortcut to the supermarket or the recipe for a Thai green curry. It’s a great way to share knowledge and also to instill a growth mindset in your team where everyone is eager to take on new information.
What are you proud that you achieved last week?
Getting your colleagues to think positively about their work not only reminds them their jobs have purpose and meaning, it allows you as a founder to keep up with their individual achievements and how they are adding to the business. Win-win.
What are you looking forward to this week?
This absolutely doesn’t have to be work-focused. It could be anything from a walk in the park to a weekend bike ride. What’s important is facilitating discussions over video meetings which enable your colleagues to approach their discussions and tasks with optimism.
About the Author
Ingrid is the founder & Chief Product and Technology Officer of Whereby, a browser-based video meeting service founded in Norway. Since 2013, she has taken on the global tech giants and incumbent video conferencing companies with her team by building a product around their vision of making work more flexible and human. The team – spread across 12 locations – lives and breathes remote collaboration. Ingrid has been listed as one of the Top Women in Tech in Norway, and in 2018 was named “Future Thinker of the Year” in Norway.