The Future is Hybrid – A refocus on employee engagement

What a year last week has been…do your weeks feel like this? A whole year crammed into one week, you wake up on Monday morning and next thing it’s Friday 7pm? It’s been a rollercoaster; time has flown by and so much has changed in 2020. The corporate world had to move into working from home and the lockdown period has been a learning curve for both, businesses and professionals. As we are slowly returning to our offices, one thing is clear, we are not going back to the way things were.

The future is hybrid.

What is a hybrid workplace? It’s where employees work from the office some days and remotely on others or an organisation’s workforce will be divided between those who work in the office and those who continue to work from home. As we are moving into this hybrid mode of working, businesses need to re-think how they organise work and leaders need to change their approach on how to lead their teams. A hybrid world has changed how people work with each other being (at least partly) physically disconnected which impacts work culture.

Some of the challenges we are seeing are disconnection, loneliness, lack of motivation, lack of productivity, or increased productivity but at the cost of people’s mental health. I hear about lack of trust, overwhelm and fear of the ongoing uncertainty in the world. Everyone is experiencing this transition in their own unique way. We all have our own fears and motivators and deal with different personal situations.

The question I get asked most often by leaders facing the hybrid world is ‘How do I keep my team engaged?’ Engagement is about what connection someone has with their workplace and what they give back. When engagement is high we are seeing

  1. Happiness and Satisfaction
  2. Retention and Loyalty
  3. Productivity and Creativity
  4. Satisfied and Loyal Customers

I have created this 7 step model to help leaders to focus on the right strategies to increase engagement:

Purpose. Re-evaluate your organisations’ core values and purpose. Is it still in line with what you stand for or have they shifted? Look beyond what the organisation’s purpose is and communicate how your employees contribute to it. Connect roles to purpose. Encourage employees to examine or reconsider how their role ties back to the greater organisation but remember that it’s the company’s responsibility to make this connection crystal clear.

Inclusion. Being physically disconnected, we have to focus on inclusion of all team members. Often, we tend to forget about our quieter introverts who seem happy to work in a silo. Reach out to those more often. Be inclusive in your meetings, set clear agendas so that you can call on everyone during the meeting and give equal airtime

Clear expectations. Be clear with what is expected from people. Being physically disconnected it is hard to check in with you and throw a quick question across the office. Setting clear expectations and asking for accountability is more important than ever before. Check out my blog about this here: Also be clear about how the new office and people structure will work.

Fun. Whilst we are going through one of the toughest phases of our lives, don’t forget to keep it light and have some fun. Use fun icebreakers, create time for casual, positive chats and encourage social times with Zoom drinks or online trivia games with your teams. Don’t make them mandatory but you will notice that your people still want to connect on a personal, casual level

Flexibility. Things change faster than ever before. Have an agile mindset and be flexible with changing things when they don’t serve you and your team anymore. Your people will also ask you for flexibility going into hybrid mode. Working together on solutions that work for both, the individual and the organisation is key to make it work.

Reward and Recognition. To keep your people motivated consider introducing reward and recognition activities. Remember that recognition is intangible (shout outs by you and peers, value champions etc.) and reward is tangible (gifts, vouchers, time off etc.). Key to implement this successfully is: rewards and recognition has to be earned, there needs to be a personal value, has to be timely and not to be confused with remuneration. Make these visible and use social media channels to track and announce.

Wellbeing. Introduce wellbeing programs. Social distancing has been a new experience, which forced employers to really look at how they could help their employees overcome a sense of isolation. Encourage work-life balance and help your employees to set boundaries and introduce healthy habits. Train your leaders to look out for signs of mental health issues and have the right conversations. Not solving the issues but referring those employees to the right health professionals if necessary.

Increasing engagement and wellbeing will help you to shift you and your teams into a new world of work and stay happy and productive.

If you want to work with me, email me

Jessica Schubert

Jessica Schubert is a Leadership Expert, Executive Coach, Facilitator, Author and Speaker. She is obsessed with helping people realise their potential and unlock their inner genius.

Born in Cologne, Germany, Jessica has travelled the world and has spent more than 20 years leading cross-cultural teams in competitive markets throughout Europe and the Asia Pacific. As she worked with and coached her own diverse, cross-cultural teams, she came to realise that learning about yourself and developing interpersonal skills is the most powerful tool to lead and influence people around you.

In 2013 she launched Intact Teams, where she and her team have worked with thousands of leaders in organisations worldwide, delivering custom-designed leadership programs and workshops. These interactive and engaging programs are offered both virtually and in-person, helping leaders and their teams succeed in a complex and ever-changing business environment.

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Jessica Schubert