The pandemic forced employees and employers to rethink the way that work is conducted. Seugnet van den Berg, founding partner at Bizmod, believes that working virtually is here to stay. “Companies have seen over the past two years that being physically present in an office is no longer necessary to excel at one's job. Output, delivery and purposeful connection with co-workers is the priority and this can be achieved no matter where you are based.”
The transition to online working came with a host of challenges as teams across the globe learnt initially how to get things done whilst not physically being in the same location. “Just short of two years into the pandemic we have navigated these waters. But as remote working continues to be a reality, one of the main challenges employers are still contending with is how to ensure that the culture of an organisation transcends into the virtual space, especially when employing new team members. And, in the same way, new employees are grappling with being able to understand the organisational hierarchy, developing relationships and entrenching themselves within the organisations,” says van den Berg.
She has identified the below issues and solutions that both new recruits and employers grapple with when someone new starts:
- Getting a sense of the organisational culture while working virtually is difficult, as the culture is a tacit element. When working virtually, it is not so easy to get a grip on the way things are done within an organisation. It is important to be deliberate in discussions with colleagues to get an understanding of what the company culture is.
- It is important to get to know co-workers, beyond the task list, and to establish a personal connection despite the virtual environment.
- If you have a team reporting to you, set up specific time to get to know individual members.
- Have each team member, including yourself, create a short clip introducing themselves, their work setup, their daily routine, etc.
- Introduce a quick online team activity for larger team meetings on a regular basis. It could be something as simple as asking team members to post a gif in the notes to illustrate how they feel about the day or topic in question
- Get a list of key internal and external stakeholders and set up introductory meetings. Keep a record of the information gathered from the sessions as this will help to create a connection.
- In large organisations, it can be quite a daunting prospect to determine reporting lines, individuals with positional power, as well as those that may not hold a title but have referent power.
- Have a formal view of the organisational structure and hierarchy and update this with information as you meet individuals. Including a photograph of the person helps to recall details.
- Create a stakeholder analysis that highlights those who are impacted by, and influence your work. This will assist with prioritising your time on stakeholder management.
- Identify individuals who hold institutional knowledge and are willing to share it.
- Often it is a struggle to balance finding your feet, getting to know your colleagues, and delivering results.
- Clarify delivery expectations with your manager and team.
- Mitigate delivery expectations with the fact that it takes longer to get to know people in a virtual setting.
- As important as it is to show results, virtual working research has shown that making a connection with co-workers is just as important, especially when it comes to problem solving or innovation deliverables.
- Lastly, the basic virtual meeting guidelines and etiquette we have all come to know are always required.
“A new role within an organisation creates the opportunity to establish a better or different version of yourself with your employer and co-workers. A new position provides you with the platform to establish new boundaries and work practises. Practises that can ensure that you work sustainably and create that work/life balance over the long term,” says van den Berg.
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