3 Thought Leadership and Communication Tips for Hybrid-Era Leaders
As hybrid work becomes more popular, business leaders need to establish new communication and thought leadership practices. Start with these tips.
Welcome to the new normal: some employees in the office and others working from home. Some team members on-site certain days and then remote on other days. How do you balance communication among these disparate teams? How do you ensure every employee is on the same wavelength when it comes to processes and operations?
Hybrid work has seen a pronounced surge, particularly amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and it's only going to continue growing. Today, 63% of high-growth companies use hybrid work models. Also, workers generally prefer a hybrid work model 83% of the time. As hybrid work expands, so do the complexities of managing a distributed workforce.
This brings new challenges for leaders to connect and build relationships. If you're unsure about how to navigate a hybrid work environment and make the transition easier for everyone involved, here are some basic communication tips.
Level up your resources
The very first step to take is to upgrade your digital toolkit and skill set, as hybrid work isn't going anywhere. When deciding which tools and skills to utilize, keep in mind that two of the biggest challenges remote workers face include communication (17%) and loneliness (19%). With the right tools, you can facilitate effective communication while making remote employees feel like they're right there in the office with you.
To effectively manage a hybrid environment, you need to make use of the right tech platforms, including Slack, Zoom, Google Workspace and others. You also need to invest in high-quality AV equipment, including mics and cameras that facilitate remote work. Equally important is knowing how to use the equipment and ensuring teams have adequate training. Ideally, these platforms would be location agnostic. That means they can be used just as effectively in the office as they can in remote locations.
Equalize communications between remote and in-office employees
Although many business leaders favor in-person communication, hybrid work demands a new paradigm. Ask yourself how you can ensure all voices are being heard within your organization. How can you structure hybrid meetings so that remote and in-person team members can participate equally? Also, how do you ensure that remote and in-person employees get equal face time? You should also figure out how to avoid overlooking people for projects or promotions because they're not physically in the office. Finally, consider whether you should require employees to come to the office at least one day a week for meetings or other occasions or not.
Ultimately, there are plenty of ways to go about making your remote employees feel like part of the team. For instance, one Harvard Business Review article recommends building buffer time into meetings, which gives employees a chance to ease into the meeting before it begins. During this time, employees can talk with each other and bond before the meeting starts, facilitating casual communications between remote and in-office teams.
Related: What Exactly Is Thought Leadership?
Build your thought leadership platform
As a hybrid leader, you need to maximize your thought leadership footprint. Going forward, leaders will enjoy far less physical face time with employees, customers and key stakeholders. In the virtual context, sharing the right messaging through social platforms, through traditional media and on company channels is critical.
Thought leadership is crucial here: carving out your executive brand and platform, then disseminating it on digital channels for maximum impact. It's important not to underestimate the value of thought leadership and its influence, either. One Edelman-LinkedIn study found that 55% of decision-makers use thought leadership content to help vet business. Additionally, the same study discovered that 50% of decision-makers spend a minimum of an hour per week consuming thought leadership content.
One of the best ways to build your platform is to have a thoughtful, sustained presence on social networking channels like LinkedIn. The fact is that 77% of consumers prefer to purchase from companies with socially active executives. You also need to share views about your company culture or your industry in thoughtful, long-form blog posts and op-eds.
There are many leaders out there who have built a name and reputation for themselves as dependable thought leaders. As an example, entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk has managed to become internationally recognizable due to his presence on social media, blogs and other platforms. He regularly produces video content when he isn't blogging or sharing his thoughts on social media.
At the end of the day, the right remote work solutions, effective communications planning and a strong thought leadership presence can all help overcome the hurdles that might otherwise hold you back in a hybrid context. Whatever challenges lie ahead, hybrid work is poised to be a permanent fixture in office culture — and one that can work to leaders' advantage with the right preparation.
Entrepreneur Leadership Network Contributor