Collaboration equity in your hybrid workplace ensures an environment that minimizes conflict and disputes while maximizing engagement, customer service, and profitability. This article addresses how to have a flexible, compassionate, and meaningful workplace where the best and brightest want to work and stay. Many businesses including Google are trying to figure out how to do this right. As firms consider how to address collaboration with an ever changing environment it is clear that collaboration equity where everyone feels valued, the entire team gels and performs much better.
What does equity collaboration look like?
When everyone feels heard and listened to, they are more apt to listen to you and align themselves with your work going forward. This means regardless of their location, position, role, experience, primary language, preference for technology, or relationship to others, everyone has the ability to communicate and contribute to the cause. New, junior, and disempowered employees may be reluctant to contribute without being explicitly invited to participate. Reach out to them to make sure they know they are valued and that you want to hear their ideas.
To ensure collaboration it is necessary to build relationships with individual team members. What are their interests? What do they like to do outside of work? How can you relate to them? Apply team building techniques so that the team can bond as a unit. Tell stories, use humor, share about yourself, have them share about themselves, do actives together, celebrate successes, eat together, spend time with each other. By working with the team and providing networking opportunities with employees up and down the organization, and with co-workers, team members begin to see each other in an enhanced light. With a hybrid workforce this requires some thought and consideration.
Various forms of equity
Given in person, virtual, and geographic dispersion this required some thought on how to bring everyone on board with team building and networking. The intention is to bring everyone on board. Google has addressed this issue in part with changing technology focusing on three key elements. These are to have representative equity, participation equity, and information equity. Let’s take a look at each area.
Whether on site or off site all employees need to be seen, heard, and accepted on what is viewed as fair. With bias everyone has preferences based on experiences that shape who you prefer to associate with. Knowing this it is important that you recognize your underlying biases and make every effort to reach out to all your team members initially on an equal bases, and then adjust your interactions based on individual needs and preferences. You will be able to better assess this over time.
When you have meetings with a hybrid model it is necessary for everyone to be heard. It is a good idea to have someone identified as a facilitator to make sure this happens and to make sure that those not in person are able to be fully heard. This can be an issue with quality of the internet connection, ability to listen, and ability to offer insights remotely. Given time zone restrictions, be especially sensitive to time of day and week considering cultural and behavioral differences. Here is an article that addressees how to make hybrid meetings more inclusive. Regardless of the technology (Zoom, Go to Meetings, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet, Google Hangout, Skype, Facetime and many more) it is important to have a system that works for everyone involved. It may initially be necessary to work with participants to explain the system to ensure understanding Do not assume everyone is on board.
There may be differences with new work place norms that result of these hybrid processes. Be flexible and adapt to the needs and concerns of participants. The key is for everyone to feel that they are all represented fairly considering equity and equality.
Asking others to help with the agenda, provide ideas, offer presentations, and to participate regardless of location ensures buy in. Not everyone may participate the same way every time. Leadership should ensure everyone is given opportunities on an equal basis over time. Give everyone the opportunity to host and make presentations so that everyone has the ability to experience the full range of your system.
As indicated earlier having a facilitator or a meeting moderator can ensure focus on the purpose of the interaction and not having one person dominate the meeting. When some are virtual and others are in person, there can be a tendency for some individuals to dominate. This gives everyone an opportunity to be heard. For those that can be distracted by their own image they can always turn off their image.
Knowledge is power. Being as transparent as possible by sharing what you can legally, morally , and ethically with others to ensure equal access demonstrates information equity. What do others need and want to know? When in doubt overcommunicate. When overcommunication becomes an issue, others will let you know. Not everyone has the same needs. Listen to your people. Free flowing information helps team members feel inclusion and have a sense of autonomy. This will enhance creativity, cooperation, and innovation with your team.
Sharing work product
This requires you actively prioritizing keeping everyone informed. If others cannot attend the meeting, ensure the meeting is recorded so that it can be viewed by those not able to attend. Sharing accessible files on line and allowing for group editing and reviewing in real time can significantly speed up the process with a higher quality product.
Today many employees work remotely from home. However, they still want to progress in their careers. By promoting flexibility, offering opportunities regardless of location, and promoting individuals regardless of location demonstrates a commitment to those working remotely. By being enthusiastic with everyone and especially those working remotely, this will ensure engagement and team building.
Build hybrid equity collaboration with your team
Here are seven key elements to build hybrid collaboration with your team from this article.
- Make sure everyone has a voice and that everyone can be heard. Ensure everyone is heard via an appointed facilitator in meetings and that you contact them individually weekly.
- Make sure that they have the resources they need from their perspective including technology, software, training, and devices.
- Make sure everyone has various forums to be heard. This may be individually, with meetings, with chats, or with other hybrid alternatives. Be sure to acknowledge and take proper actions to affirm and appreciate actions taken by team members.
- Make sure to be transparent and share information that you can legally, morally, and ethically to those with the need or even want to know. Knowledge is power. Sharing knowledge to everyone that has a need to know goes a long way towards building trust.
- Make flexible scheduling by team members permissible as much as possible. Working with each team member individually and then determining what works for the team given different jobs requirements promotes a creative, collaborative environment. Perhaps having specific on site days or core hours of team availability others can address individual needs and maximize their own creativity and productivity. Having off site concentrating time may result in much better work products.
- Make individual acknowledgement, recognition, and rewards for results will instill that a flexible work environment is indeed encouraged and reinforced by the organization.
- Make team acknowledgment, recognition, and rewards a shared process. By appreciating team results this sends a clear signal that collaboration is at least as important or more important depending on how you emphasize this within your organization. Recognizing individual accomplishment as indicated above is important, but when that can be part of the group recognition process this reinforces the collaboration process.
About the author
Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at email@example.com and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, NSA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]