Creating, Restoring Lost Connections in a Hybrid World

The new employee roaming empty halls eager to find someone – anyone—to talk to

The CEO who publicly boasts about inclusion before dismantling the DEI team

The employee whose manager cancels their 1:1 meetings

The team whose members constantly can’t agree on their primary communications channel

The remote worker who’s always left out of important conversations

Employees who roll their eyes at the company’s latest mission statement

The global team whose members are constantly tripping over cross-cultural tripwires

What do these all of these have in common?

Missed and missing connections, whether we’re connecting people to each other, connecting organizations to a shared sense of purpose, connecting people to important information, or helping people understand the connections between their decisions and their consequences.

Why is it so hard to make and maintain connections?

  • We have fewer opportunities for meaningful conversations – completing deliverables is often seen as more important than building relationships
  • Leaders make decisions in a vacuum without involving affected stakeholders so they can move ahead more quickly, even if it’s in the wrong direction
  • Teams have few explicit principles and norms about when, where and how often people will meet, and why, causing chaotic, inconsistent and unpredictable communications
  • Leaders are overwhelmed by the challenges of an increasingly complex, hybrid workplace, leaving team members to their own devices
  • Global teams working across time, distance and cultures ignore cultural their differences that impede collaboration and communication

 

What steps can you take to build (or rebuild) important connections?

  • You can join my next Insights Roundtable, Making Connections in a Hybrid World, on Wednesday, March 13, from 9 – 10:15 AM Eastern Time to learn and share ideas and tips for helping people feel more connected to their shared purpose, their organization, as well as their team and members and leaders.

Just complete this short form or send me an email with “Making Connections” in the subject line, and I’ll send you a meeting invite and Zoom link. Feel free to invite others in your organization.

Interested but can’t join this one? Please complete this short form and suggest topics you’d most like to explore.

  • You can check out the links below to past Communiques for dozens of timeless tips about building, maintaining and restoring lost connections in a world of distributed work.

Here are a few of my favorites:

  • Set up “office hours” at a predictable time and day each week or so. Some may come by for a quick hello, while others will want to stay and chat. There’s no set agenda, and people can talk about whatever they want, or nothing at all. Some may come in person, and others will be remote.
  • Ensure that remote employees have access to perks that others enjoy. For example, if your HQ folks have access to a gym, fun social outings, and free food, consider how you can extend similar benefits to remote workers, within reason. Even a small gesture, like a gift certificate to a local restaurant or hotel, can help remote workers feel remembered and valued.
  • Be a connector. Introduce your remote colleagues to others who live and work nearby, even if they’re not in the same department. Think about people who might enjoy each other’s company, learn from each other or have something in common. Offer to make a mutual introduction and encourage them to meet for breakfast, coffee, lunch or a walk-and-talk and see where that takes them.
  • Try metaphors to get everyone moving in the same direction. Pick one that’s appropriate for your team and its journey, such as white-water rafting or designing a new rocketship. Find relevant photos or other images to evoke the same sense of place for everyone. Get team members talking about what each must do to prepare for this adventure together, what help they need from others, and the inherent risks and rewards. Capture ideas and reflect on the implications for your team.
  • Set up community conversations to encourage cross-team connections. Consider which teams, functions, or other organizational entities would benefit from cross-pollinating knowledge, sharing challenges or opportunities, or brainstorming ideas. Start with a topic that most people would likely benefit from discussing with people from other teams, and keep groups small to allow for greater depth of connection. This can be a great way to make people feel good about coming into the office. Of course, these conversations can also be held remotely.

Even though some have returned to in-person work, the feeling of disconnection is still palpable for many. And it’s not just because of our physical isolation, but also because many of us don’t make the time, or have the inclination, for deep conversations, especially when the topic has the potential to be polarizing or make us feel vulnerable.

When the Sesame Street character Elmo recently asked “How is everybody doing?” on social media, he got thousands of responses from people expressing their anxiety and existential dread. Maybe Elmo had something there.

Links

Downloadable PDF documents from Guided Insights:

Links to past Communiques:

My articles appearing in external publications:

LinkedIn Live session:

YouTube Link for my LinkedIn Live with Penny Pullan – Real Inclusion in a Hybrid World

Wondering how I can help?

Let’s schedule a 30-minute meeting so we can explore how to work together to address your most pressing challenges.

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