No one benefits from not having difficult conversations around inclusion, but they must be carefully designed — especially in a hybrid or remote workplace where we are more likely to misunderstand each other, and where we can’t see the physical cues of discomfort and exclusion. Let’s discuss how you can strengthen your team’s engagement, productivity, and morale across differences.
Here are three tips to create closeness and inclusivity on hybrid teams:
Discuss differences. No one benefits when we pretend that our differences don’t exist. We shouldn’t be ignoring or erasing our unique backgrounds, experiences, or personalities in the name of inclusivity. Acknowledging differences can turn them from potential stumbling blocks into advantages. The key is to show up with willingness to learn and without preconceived notions of otherness.
Create varied spaces for social chatter with the goal of eliminating cliques and fostering relationship-building. Research has shown that the things people miss the most when transitioning to remote work are the social, relationship-building activities that happen when we walk by someone’s desk and say hello, meet in the break room and discuss our latest Netflix binge, or notice that someone seems distracted and ask if they’re okay. It’s the water cooler interactions. This is also where we learn from each other, become comfortable, and ultimately build trust. Water cooler moments can exist in digital spaces, too. It could be planned Zoom Hang Outs or an Ask me Anything. Ask your team what they might be interested in and go from there.
Publicly celebrate wins. Teams can’t see each other staying late at the office or having extra meetings with clients. They can’t high-five each other after wins or share a laugh in the hallway. Start conference calls with time for members to share wins or praise for colleagues. Or, start a slack channel for peer-to-peer shoutouts — #YouRock, #MVP, or #GoodJob. These moments reinforce the feeling of having a common goal and working together to reach it. Having a common goal can drive cross-boundary understanding and collaboration.