Hybrid Work Nudges to Easily Make The New Way of Work Work
With offices reopening and more companies recognizing that the future of work is hybrid, this new work model enjoys widespread acceptance.
But adoption of hybrid work also means dealing with a fresh set of challenges—work-life integration, poor employee experience, and ineffective collaboration between hybrid and remote teams.
Well, we might not have to look too hard for the solution. An old concept in the corporate workplace, nudging or “work nudges” are designed to influence positive behavior. Think about how Facebook nudges you via email to view a photo your friend posted if you haven’t logged in recently. While work nudges are nowhere near as nefarious as nudges from social platforms, they’re just as effective.
Adapting the idea to deal with hybrid work environment challenges, we’d like to introduce you to “hybrid work nudges”—small but effective messages or rituals that help people cope better.
4 Hybrid Work Challenges: How to Use Hybrid Work Nudges
to Solve them
We’re taking on 4 of the most common hybrid work challenges that plague companies across industries and showing you how to set up work nudges to make hybrid work successful.
Poor Employee wellbeing: Switch off from work
Scalable, IT operations & employee usage data analytics provider for SaaS, surveyed 2,000 UK hybrid workers for its Digital Experience Report 2021. 31% of employees reported struggling with turning off the work mode. The knock-on effect could be employee burnout.
1. Regular check-ins
Encourage managers to create recurring invites on their calendars to chat with team members and do a wellbeing check-in.
Get together with colleagues to have conversations below the surface level and make meaningful human connections at work. During the check-in, use questions from the list below to look out for signs of poor wellbeing markers:
- What were this week’s highs and lows?
- Share 1 thing that’s a priority for you at work or personal life.
- What went well yesterday?
- What’s something you’re grateful for right now?
- What are you going to do for yourself after work today?
- What’s something that happened yesterday that you found hilarious?
- What’s something you want to remind yourself during the workday today?
- What’s 1 thing we can do to make your experience better?
2. Nudges via workplace messaging apps
Whether you use Slack, Teams, or Basecamp, you can send messages reminding employees to take a break, engage in team-building activities, or prioritize mental health.
While you can schedule messages to go out, you’ll still have to make time to write and individually send them which is hard to do at scale. Employee enablement platforms like Zavvy allow you to automate these nudges. With Zavvy’s Wellbeing Booster, you can support your employees and enable positive outcomes.
Employee disengagement: Get leadership involved
An experiment by Inverse found that a common personality trait among leaders is a higher level of extraversion. Neuroscience studies have shown that extroverts are less sensitive to dopamine and thus need more stimulation to thrive whereas introverts are far more sensitive and overstimulation can make them weary fast. This is why introverts are more likely to choose remote/hybrid work options.
If that divide weren’t enough, the matrix to define a high-performing employee flipped during the pandemic. In an interview with Bloomberg, Patty McCord, former head of HR at Netflix, referenced a senior exec at a Fortune 100 company who used a “matrix of skills” to identify a great salesperson but found that it didn’t hold up anymore. “Suddenly that company’s best employees were the quiet ones who would just get on a call with a client and listen.”
This had led to leaders losing touch with their people which resulted in greater levels of employee disengagement and subsequently decreased productivity.
1. Use nudges to help leaders increase touchpoints
All employees crave recognition from leaders. But for remote workers that have never had any face time with leaders, it is crucial. As leadership walks the tightrope between getting work done and making sure employees are doing their best work, nudges can help create multiple touchpoints for leaders to reach out to employees.
Think check-in messages at regular intervals during remote onboarding of new hires, Slack reminders to join a group activity, or a gentle nudge to share feedback about the employee experience.
Automate the process with Zavvy’s Manager Companion to support leaders boost employee morale and strengthen work relationships.
2. Send leaders nudges to help them re-orient to the new model
Leaders switching to hybrid work with no prior experience need more than just support—they need retraining.
But creating a training routine isn’t enough. Even at a company like Freeletics where creating effective training routines is the whole business model, people managers were still struggling to maintain the hype after a leadership training.
Senior People Ops Manager at Freeletics, Patrizia, recalls, “The biggest challenge was that our people managers have a lot on their plate and they are always short in time,” and how frustrating it was to see no results from ad-hoc training.
What finally helped them was using Zavvy to facilitate micro-learning through microlessons sent via Slack or Teams.
These short weekly nudges are easy to consume, motivate ongoing behavioral change and since every lesson is based on a practical framework, it’s easy to implement.
The 3 custom initiatives for 40 people managers resulted in 100% of them reporting they felt supported in their growth and development.
Ineffective Team Collaboration: Build connections
Distributed teams allow employees to enjoy a greater degree of autonomy and flexibility but it can dampen collaboration between in-office and remote workers.
[Use these Hybrid Work Schedules to design a model that suits your org’s needs]
It’s hard to replace or recreate the water cooler moments in a hybrid work environment but not impossible.
1. Nudge people to hang out at the virtual watercooler
Prezly, a PR software and a remote-first company, has an open Slack channel called #watercooler which is connected to an always-open Zoom call where anyone can hop on to have a quick chat.
When someone joins the Zoom link, a notification is sent to the Slack channel nudging others to join.
2. Automatically connect and nudge people
Take the automation approach and use connection programs like Zavvy’s to automatically connect coworkers for casual meetups, meaningful conversations, or even walking meetings.
Zavvy helps you do two things - connect people based on criteria or coincidence and nudge them to meet and bond.
Proximity bias: Practice empathy and have difficult conversations
Unconscious workplace biases aren’t new but with hybrid work, we’re witnessing a new kind of disparity—proximity bias.
In a recent New York Times article, Sonja Gittens Ottley, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at Asana, explained, “Employees who are working in-person could get more visibility with leadership. They might have more opportunities for mentorship and sponsorship.”
That divide gets deeper at companies that treat remote workers as an afterthought or believe they don’t have the “hustle.”
Practising empathy by trying to put yourself in remote workers’ shoes is the best way forward. A Fast Company article recommends leading by example and working remotely to remove the unconscious biases that inevitably creep in.
It’s equally important to have difficult conversations about diversity and inclusion and which company policies are helping or hurting.
Zavvy’s connection program, Conversations That Matter, allows you to connect people to openly discuss failure and success, increasing transparency and giving everyone a fair chance to voice their perspective.
Getting people back to work: Nudging your way to a successful workplace return
Perhaps the biggest challenge of them all is actually enticing workers to adopt this new operating model as we navigate uncertainty.
It’s clear that employers want people back at work. Over 75% of C-suite executives surveyed by McKinsey expect the typical “core” employee to be back in the office 3 or more days a week.
Most employees prefer a flexible working model in the future. Of the 5,000 employees McKinsey surveyed, 52% stated hybrid work was their desired model.
But this data out of context has led employers astray. Employers falsely believe that a return to the workplace is a return to normalcy. In reality, employers are not clear what workers really want because a lot has happened—personal losses, long periods of isolation, and new family obligations. This has led to employees re-evaluating their relationship with employers and work.
Tone-deaf messages from employers about how the finish line is in sight may be speeding up the attrition in 2022 and even 2023.
[Read Next: Employee Retention Strategy | Expert Advice]
Instead of denying the disconnect, use nudges to get employees to exhibit the desired behavior. Nudges can help re-board employees, break down information into bite-sized messages, send microlessons, and most importantly, make the transition smooth.
Need help getting more done at work? Chat with Zavvy’s experts to find out how you can use work nudges in your hybrid workplace.