A concern many leaders have of the virtual world of work is will some of their employees fly under the radar, not put in the additional effort often required and work to simply get the “job” done.
Will a shift online mean there will be a lack of or minimum interaction and participation by employees who have no real connection with the vision, values, or culture of the business?
The issue with this concern is that it is not just exclusive to a virtual environment; it happens just as frequently in a non-virtual one.
What we need to aim for is a world where your people feel energised, there is a high level of collaboration, and everyone is on the same page and connected to the business ambitions knowing they are contributing in a positive way.
Collaboration is the new buzzword or “secret sauce” — a term a colleague of mine loves to use. In this current hybrid paradigm, we have the opportunity to be creative and innovative around collaboration.
The hybrid world of work is very much about virtual collaboration, and one of the key learnings we had as leaders during the pandemic was that we didn’t need to be in the same room as each other to collaborate. It had much more to do with how our people showed up.
We were working in crisis mode, and the virtual world provided an opportunity to remove the silos between property management and sales.
We also connected with and bought our customers closer. I know many agents and property managers spent a lot of their time calling clients simply to ask if they were okay, did the shopping for them and dropped off care packs.
Perhaps the most important piece was that the veil between home and work life had been lifted.
We saw each other at our worst and our best; with our kids who were being homeschooled, pets, and grandparents; we had dinners on zoom, celebrated special occasions and shared the grief of loss many went through.
We moved from independent in-house teams, often working in silos coming together a few times a year, to online virtual teams coming together almost daily. We connected at a human level first and business second.
As we come back into the offices and move towards the hybrid world of work, collaboration for the success of this world still remains critical. Perhaps now, when we do come into the office, it needs to coincide with a collaboration day that includes team activities and business planning — rather than everyday meetings that can be held virtually.
Through the pandemic, how we fundamentally did business changed, and we all needed to be agile and nimble. We became bolder in our thinking — and for many businesses, the new ways of doing business have remained.
Can we train for collaboration? I believe we can.
What if we spent time improving our communication skills, focused on working better as a team, assessing our emotional intelligence capabilities and working on improving these? It would develop a better place for collaboration.
Sadhana Smiles is the chief executive of Real Estate Industry Partners and the director of Harcourts Move.