Traditionally professional "face-to-face" time in the office was considered crucial for performance and productivity. Team bonds were built carefully over time based on proximity and capability; the closer, the better. Those who showed up early and stayed put for 10 hours a day – under the perimetrical oversight of the boss – were viewed as committed and hardworking.
This is preSEATeeism – visibly fossilising in the office on ergonomic meeting chairs – was rudely disrupted by the pandemic. "Action, observation, reaction" no longer worked, as bosses were forced to trust their teams to work out of sight, mostly with surprisingly good results. Moreover, employees overwhelmingly enjoyed their newfound autonomy and flexibility.
Today many CEOs and organisations struggling with the question: do we flip back to the old school type of presence or explore a new "hybrid" work model? We firmly believe that the "face-to-face time only" has been on its way out since the 1980s and was finally handed a death blow by COVID 19. The unstoppable asynchronicity and virtualisation of the modern workplace are here to stay but will need a deliberate redefinition of "presence" based on trust, not continuous proximity or seat warming.
Distrust is too slow for modern hybrid work environments
.The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.”
― Ernest Hemingway (Worked From Anywhere)
Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, or ability of someone else. How you get it and how you lose it depends on your personal beliefs. Do people fundamentally have good intentions, or will they naturally take advantage of you or the situation? If you have a negative view of human nature, you protect yourself by carefully and closely monitoring others over time so they can earn your trust and companionship. This “control” was easier to exercise when you had people physically around you. Now you are stuck at home, unable to “check” if and how everybody is behaving. The perfect storm for any control freak.
If you believe people generally want to do the right thing – at least until the opposite is demonstrated– you can build relationships much faster and typically have a more pleasant life, even if you will occasionally be fooled. In a hybrid work setup, you will trust people to do their jobs and look for ways to build safety and predictability into a more complex work environment.
Beliefs are hard to change, and both the negative and positive mindsets regarding trust have risks and advantages. However, in an increasingly virtual and fast-paced world where “real” face time is becoming a scarce commodity, biases and natural distrust slows everything down to a level where performance, innovation and engagement eventually grind to a halt. Holding on to hard-fought talent highly controlled environments will be a competitive nightmare, even in the most attractive locations. Silicon Valley is already on a aggressive treasure hunt offering flexibility AND the big bucks.
Building trust: The Hybrid Reset 8
How do you set up a hybrid environment where we have the technical skills, setup and trust needed for success in a hybrid environment?
From our research and experience we found 13 questions – 8 trust + 5 logistics – important for success in hybrid environments. They are built on a reset of the most popular motivational theories* and lots of experience working in and with remote teams.
8 out of 13 focus on trust. We believe trust is a prerequisite, the glue allowing all the tough conversations but also enabling a genuine alignment and commitment from all stakeholders.
As much as we need to address basic logistic issues and organize ourselves as a team, in HyWo any arrangement or agreement would be worthless if not sealed through trust.
Opening up about our self: HyRe 8 vulnerability
We found that the best way to start building the hybrid trust is openly discussing the HyRe 8 items: it's a good way to open up about our “unique selves” and discover others. The higher our level of interpersonal awareness the higher the amount of interpersonal trust: the virtual "breakfast of champions" in complex and hybrid settings.
Testing Our Own Medicine
Experimenting on ourselves we decided to have a team-of-two session to extend the OPEN area using our HyRe 8 questions. We assumed we had the logistics under control: we had the will, the type of job, and the setup to work hybrid.
We both learned a lot by unboxing ourselves and going beyond the usual superficial pleasantries. Below you can find the results.
While discussing these questions we gradually opened up more. Check out the results in profiles you will not be seeing on LinkedIn any time soon
Let's get to work!
Why not give vulnerability a first try and reflect on & discuss the HyRe 8 trust questions in your team; it might be the most important step you can take towards getting prepared for a hybrid work environment.