Trust-based homeoffice and Zoom fatigue

Best practices in a hybrid work environment

On March 4th, I had the pleasure to facilitate the roundtable Leadership best practices in a hybrid work environment among cross-industry senior managers from European leading companies. In spite of the incredible positive aspects of the “new normal”, the depth and duration of the pandemic is bringing also increasingly side effects that were not really foreseeable. Leadership traits and styles have to be therefore constantly calibrated. These were the main takeaways from our discussion:

  • The sudden change to a virtual working environment has obliged us to base all working relationships on trust. This is good as such but it means also a massive cultural transformation, especially to the most traditional businesses and industries.
  • Quantity vs. quality of meetings. All peers shared the fact of being blocked in meetings throughout the whole working day. Shooting out appointments without being reflective on agenda, duration, participants and ultimately need is an area where we can really get better.
  • The working environment plays a big role and has to be managed with same degree of flexibility. While middle-age employees without kids (or these being in the nursery or school) might have plenty of space for one or two homeofficers, younger employees living in lofts or parents with homeschooling are much more limited in physical and psychological space.
  • Correlated to the last two points is the awareness around mental health. This is especially relevant linked to the continuous screen exposure -aka zoom fatigue- and the “home-everything“.
  • Over months we have learnt key behaviours to overcome some of the common traps when working in a hybrid environment, that can really help to find the right balance:
    • discipline in separation between professional and private spheres, even if everything happens under the same roof,
    • meetings can be done also without screen and chair. Walk & talk is really a good option to combine movement and creativity.
    • 1:1 interactions are still the best setup for addressing difficult situations with empathy and openness.

As long as this exceptional situation is around, we will have to run the extra mile by serving the others without forgetting that people stays at the center of every action.