The world has changed and so has the way we work as we move towards a hybrid work model, switching between working from home and the office. We can use technology to run workshops, webinars and business meetings but how can we feel engaged, motivated and as part of a team when working remotely? Or still make the same impact even though we are at home and the rest of the team in the office? The ability to lead ourselves, collaborate and communicate across functions and cultures are key skills for a sustainable working life in the new normal.

Planning, taking care of yourself and maintaining a positive mindset

You need to lead yourself in a hybrid work model to a higher extent than in a traditional physical model. Research shows that employees have worked more under lockdown and that work and leisure time become blurry when working from home. Not being able to switch off can be draining in the long term and managing our day to avoid back-to-back virtual meetings will be necessary to avoid digital fatigue. Also, taking good care of yourself when you are at home without colleagues taking you to lunch or to cheer you up at the coffee machine you are reliant on yourself for good energy and a positive mindset.

Knowing how to build relations remotely and prioritizing it

Knowing when to reach out to colleagues and catching up also needs to be thought into the daily planning and something not to be overlooked in a busy day as relationships will suffer in the long-term. Especially leaders need to be aware of the potential negative effect it can have on the remote team if meetings are cancelled or re-scheduled too often.   

Professional appearance in virtual meetings

As the world has opened, our children are back in schools and daycare, some colleagues are in the office, there won´t be the same understanding for “homey” interruptions like pets and children wanting our attention. It goes for our personal appearance too, where we will have to make more of an effort than under lockdown to not appear unprofessional.

How we think we look, and sound is not always how we come across, especially not in virtual meetings. Whilst we can easier compensate for this in physical meetings by picking up on social cues and adjust our behavior accordingly it’s a challenge in the virtual space.

Interpersonal skills and multi-cultural understanding

Building relations online has a lot to do with how we come across. The difficulty in reading non-verbal signals and what seem like lack of response and feedback mean we need to maintain a high level of self-awareness to convey the message we intent to. Do we seem approachable with an open body language and good eye contact? Or do we appear closed with a downward glaze whilst answering mails?

We might think we are open and empathetic but how are we really seen? How do we come across with our peers? This can be especially tricky for remote leaders where trust and motivation are built over the screen. Often, we are driven by old habits and take our physical behavior with us online with the risk of being misunderstood.

While it may be accepted that you bring your phone to a physical 1:1 meeting it can be very distracting and insulting even in the virtual 1:1 if there are too many interruptions as connectedness requires our full attention when we meet online. The same goes for how we host and join meetings. Do we make an effort to make people feel welcome in the virtual space or are we going straight to business? While it may be ok to start the meeting late in some cultures it can seem disrespectful in others.

Communication and presentation skills

Presenting ideas, showcasing our work or pitching to potential clients in the new normal require us to be confident and engaging communicators that can present convincingly in hybrid meetings and make the most of the precious time we have to make an impact. Whilst we may have been accustomed to virtual presentations under lockdown, the hybrid work model requires us to step in and out of the virtual and physical space and our communication and presentation material will have to resonate with both a physical and virtual audience.  

Building connection and trust with your audience begins with recognizing attitudes and behaviors in oneself. Pay attention to how you show up in meetings, practice being present, resist the temptation to multitask and schedule time for relationship building and social time with your colleagues, regardless of where they are.