Social interaction in the era of hybrid work

Hybrid work - Inuka Coaching

The corona-pandemic has changed the way people work and interact, allowing us to re-evaluate how we find balance between work and private life. Hybrid work, the mix of remote work and on-site activity, might be a great way to combine different working styles. However, not everyone has the possibility to work from home. We also have to see if we are getting the best of both worlds, or the disadvantages. We should not forget that organizations are mainly social networks. Humans are social animals and to be able to work well, we need good relationships, especially at work.

Hybrid work: has work become more human?

In a 2021 report, Microsoft performed an analysis of billions of emails and meetings, and their main finding confirmed the obvious: the shift to remote work has significantly shrunk our networks. Despite the pandemic creating tough conditions for workplace communication, it has also made work more human. The report shows that last year, one in 5 have met their colleagues’ pets or families virtually and one in 6 people have cried with a coworker.

On the other hand, unlike those with remote jobs, many on-site workers have had to continue to go to work and had to quickly adapt to several safety precautions. For example, if you wear a face mask all day, it makes it harder to detect smiles and it can feel stuffy. When we are unable to read facial expressions, we miss an important part of our connection with each other.

That “blah” feeling

Many of us are fed up with the pandemic. Often, we manage to get on with our daily lives, but we do not feel awesome. Not very hope- or joyful, This feeling is also called languishing and it might be the most common emotion of 2021. Languishing means not feeling well, a feeling of standing still or feeling empty. There is still a lot to learn about it. We have put together some tips for you to deal with it: by checking in with yourself and others and regularly practicing self-care, in the way that feels comfortable for you.

Hybrid work Inuka Coaching

Meaningful ways to check in

Before, you could walk around the office and get a sense of how someone was doing based on their body language, for example. But now, with sporadic online meetings and scheduled check-ins, everyone seems to be doing “good/fine”. This makes it harder to pick up on subtle cues. While most people appreciate being asked “how are you?”, that question” may not be the best way to check-in. This question is often perceived as a polite way to start a conversation, rather than a genuine question of interest.

Some check-in alternatives:

  1. Give insight into how you are first: I have been busy but good overall, how have you been doing?
  2. Ask something specific: What has been one highlight and one low point of your week?
  3. Be curious: Have you read any good books lately? What is helping you cope right now?
  4. Simply hold space: I care and think about you. No need to respond, just want you to know.

We have all had to develop new habits and skills to help us manage the way life spills into work and work pushes up against life. As we navigate post-pandemic working life, we must do our best to build meaningful connections into the DNA for the future.

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