hybrid working

Over the coming weeks, we’re going to be helping you to answer questions around some of the biggest challenges that we see our clients facing. Primarily, that’s all about hybrid working, and how to communicate with colleagues as you adjust to a permanent split between home and office.

The hybrid working model is gaining popularity as companies adjust to the new normal, but it also presents challenges to the typical internal comms calendar, such as: how we ensure equity in engagement (and if we need to), how we run successful events in a hybrid world, how we harness available technology and avoid over-loading our channel mix, and what on earth do we do with new starters?

We’ll tackle all that and more while providing simple, practical, and evidence-based advice drawing on our experience with clients, thought leadership and examples from trusted sources.

But first up, we turned the lens inwards (fittingly for an internal comms agency). We’ve been hybrid working at 44 for a while now and it’s been a learning experience for us all.

Here’s some advice from our IC experts about how they’ve learned to maximise their productivity and engagement during our transition to hybrid working – and what they’d pass on to others…

Corin Ashby, 44 Communications’ founder

“It’s so important that conversations are done with cameras on when working remotely – so you can talk properly with non-verbal as well as verbal communication. It’s a simple change that makes a massive difference. According to Zoom’s research, switching on the camera creates more trust with clients and teams, and more than two-thirds of professionals say turning their camera on helps them perform better, even in a remote setup with several distractions.”

Jo Williams, Senior Communications Specialist and Account Director

“It’s easy while working from home to forget it’s still a working day. Remember to schedule your day so it’s not eight hours of video calls. Make meetings 45-minutes long instead of an hour to allow for a break in between. Or, if you have an informal meeting, take it on the phone while on a walk. The HSE advice is to take a 10-minute break every hour if possible.”

Alan Coates, Partner – Digital

“Not all communication tools are created equal, and you should think about how and when you’re using the different options within Teams. If it’s just a quick, non-timely message, then Teams chat is your friend. If you need to know something now, it’s probably a Teams call. If they don’t answer, you can right click and choose ‘Notify when available’ to catch them later. And if it’s something more important, put it in the diary as a Teams meeting. This gives you extra tools in case you want to record or auto transcribe the call. Don’t forget, if you need to quickly edit a message you’ve just sent in Teams chat, just double-tap your up arrow. That one definitely comes in handy.”

Hannah Moss, Accounts Manager

“When working from home, I like to spend my lunch break wisely – it can be too easy to lose track of time and work through. Instead, I make sure I schedule time away from screens, by either getting out in the fresh air and going for a walk or relaxing with a coffee and listening to a crime podcast. That’s backed up by this pre-pandemic research, which showed people weren’t great at taking breaks, even before the ‘new normal’ hit! For me, stepping away helps to reset my mind, ready to focus for the afternoon.”

Nick Robbins, Account Director

“If you can, try not to create a rigid schedule for when you’ll be in the office or at home. Flexibility is the order of the day. Look at your tasks and meetings, then decide which ones might benefit from face-to-face collaboration, or which might need the additional focus available when distractions are limited (which might be at home or in the office depending on your circumstances!).”

Bryan Jones, Senior Editor

“I’d been working with an older and trusted laptop for some time. I’ve just taken delivery of a new one and it’s made my working day so much more effective and efficient. I do feel a bit stupid not getting it sorted earlier. So, my advice is don’t be like me – make sure you get all the latest hardware and software as soon as you can.”

Looking to learn more?

What hard-earned hybrid working advice would you pass on to others? Or what areas of hybrid working comms would you like some help with? We’re always available for a chat or to discuss your plans. Drop us a line and arrange time for a cuppa (virtual or not!).