Written by Andy Sin and Alex Eggington, Myers-Briggs Company
With research showing that the number of jobs offering flexibility between remote, hybrid and on-site work has increased 8.6-fold, organizations have had to reassess their approach to managing a mix of remote, hybrid, and on-site work arrangements.
Furthermore, Microsoft‘s research highlights just how dynamic the modern work model has become: more than half of employees working remotely plan to switch to hybrid, while half of the employees who work in a hybrid model intend to move to completely remote work. With the work environment in a constant state of flux, managers and leaders will need to be highly adaptable.
There is evidence, however, that leaders may largely view remote and hybrid work in a negative light. Microsoft also reports that only one in ten leaders express confidence in the ability of their team members to maintain productivity levels while working remotely.
When it comes to managing hybrid and remote workers, training industry professionals must recognize that leaders may require more support in developing new mindsets and leadership approaches. Furthermore, employees need training that caters to the demands of agile teams where they switch frequently between remote, hybrid, and physical work settings.
Organizations, therefore, must develop training that improves workers’ ability to remain productive while transitioning between remote and in-person working environments and also helps to allay leaders’ worries about a performance decline in remote work.
The Importance of Fostering Strong Relationships
Work relationships have suffered in the wake of the pandemic, with as many as 50 percent of remote workers reporting that their workplace relationships are lacking.
One reason for this may be that people are wired to connect with one another on mental, physical, and emotional levels based on their interactions. With the exception of the past few decades, this has occurred almost entirely based on in-person interaction, and there’s good reason to think that we don’t bond with each other to the same degree when our interaction is entirely virtual.
As organizations continue to shift the roles of various employees between remote and physical environments, it becomes crucial to integrate social networking and engagement into training programs.
When designing training initiatives, ensure that they foster environments that facilitate relationships and connections among participants. You can do this by:
- Allowing more time in the agenda for team members to connect during face-to-face meetings.
- In sessions that combine in-person and virtual participation, paying special attention to remote participants who may feel disconnected from their team
Strategies for Effective Virtual and Hybrid Training
Training in virtual or hybrid scenarios comes with a set of distinct challenges that require unique solutions to keep the content engaging and impactful. One such challenge is that virtual participants need to make a greater conscious effort to stay mentally engaged during training sessions. You can help them by:
- In hybrid scenarios, checking yourself to ensure you’re equally engaged with both in-person and virtual participants.
- Be sure to announce who you’re talking to when you’re speaking to someone. This is particularly relevant for hybrid scenarios when those joining virtually may not be able to tell otherwise, and this can leave them feeling out of the loop.
- When someone who is physically present has a comment, ensure that those joining remotely can hear that comment–repeat it if necessary.
- Likewise, remember to invite virtual participants to share or ask questions as it may be harder for them to easily jump into the discussion happening face-to-face. Be vigilant in ensuring their attempts to participate aren’t stifled.
In-Person Training Tips
For many training professionals, the transition back to in-person training can be an adjustment. You can mitigate some of the challenges if you:
- Take the time to review and practice your presentation and facilitation skills so that you feel confident leading the session without relying too heavily on screen notes.
- Plan for slightly longer breakout sessions, as participants can no longer form groups or return to the main room simply by pressing a key on their computer.
- Prepare to memorize participants’ names and faces as they will not be on a screen
- Leverage personality type to understand and leverage the dynamics in the room. Based on preferences for either Introversion or Extraversion, some participants may like to think out loud, while others may not speak up until they have fully formed ideas. Based on preferences for Judging or Perceiving, some may prefer a high degree of structure, while others prefer a loose and adaptable format. Be sure to balance your approach to the needs of the personality diversity in your group so that everyone gains maximum benefit from your training.
While the cumulative effect of the shifting of employee status back and forth between remote, hybrid, and in-person remains unclear, companies that prioritize employee needs and provide effective leadership in managing these dynamic work environments will be better equipped to avoid potential hazards. All of this starts with better training.
By following these tips, you can ensure that your training not only engages both remote and in-person participants, but also enables the formation of stronger relationships, and other aspects that will enable productivity in virtual and hybrid work environments.
About the authors
Andy Sin is a Senior Consultant at The Myers-Briggs Company. He is an experienced facilitator designing and delivering various team development solutions to teams at all levels across various industries. Andy has expertise in supporting leaders and teams to reach their potential and achieve greater effectiveness with rich exposure in both consultancy and in-house HR and L&D experience. His key skills are team development, coaching, leadership development, cultural transformation and talent management.
Alex Eggington is a Consultant at The Myers-Briggs Company. She is an expert in designing and facilitating both individual and team development solutions. She has experience working across all levels and sectors, from the civil service and NHS to global financial services and energy companies. Her key skills are team development, leadership development and assessment.