Dear Latimer: More Answers to Your Questions

Hello friends! We are continuing our latest blog tradition of fielding your questions about effective communication. You can send us the questions any way you want… via phone, email or the “Dear Latimer” box on the right side of most pages on our site. When we get a question we will always answer directly back to you. And when appropriate, we will publish your questions and our answers on our blog (always with your permission, and anonymously if requested). Our goal here is to give you some quick support and share some of our answers with the entire Latimer Community.

So, fire away with those questions, and we look forward to hearing from you.

Have a great day! ~Dean and Team Latimer

Dear Latimer,

My company is starting to come back to the office in a modified, hybrid way. My team feels like we just got used to being virtual all the time, after two years of trial and error on how to do this well. Now everyone is nervous about another change. Any advice on how to do “hybrid” well?

Chris, operations manager

Dear Chris! We get this one constantly these days. We could write 10,000 words on this topic… but that would be a long blog post. So we will give a couple of quick thoughts that we hope will be helpful,

Hybrid work environments need to be agile in many ways, because the dynamic on how we interact changes day to day, depending on who is in the office, who isn’t, and who needs to interact with whom. So we strongly advise that you set up some norms about how you want your team to behave, and write them down. Key questions include, which channels do you want people to use to communicate, and when? What merits a meeting? What kinds of topics can be dealt with virtually? What kinds of topics need to be dealt with in-person? Which meetings can become emails? Which email topics should have been discussions? Your team needs to consider these kinds of questions and figure out what works for your team.

Another big topic is when people will be in the office. Are there certain groups or pods of people that should be in the office together? Then try to get them to schedule their office days in sync. Make the most of that office time.

Finally, think about how you want people to connect. If little interactions are an important part of keeping your team together (and we think those little interactions are important for most teams), then you need to think about how those will happen in a hybrid world. Encourage your team to reach out to each other to stay in touch. Encourage people to pop in and say hello when others are in the office. And encourage your team to reach out to each other on virtual days also. If all of our interactions are formal, planned meetings, then something will get lost in the fabric of the team. Informal connections and interactions are a critical part of any group. Make sure they don’t get forgotten or lost.

Bottom line is this… a connected and engaged team does not just happen on its own. You need to think about norms and desired outcomes and plan for those. Encourage the right behaviors. Be intentional about the culture and reality you want to create. Write it all down.

Big topic. Hope this helps. Good luck!
– Dean

Does your team:
– Take too long to make decision?
– Fail to ask for what it wants or needs from you?
– Make things too complicated?
– Deliver unconvincing or disorganized presentations?
– Have new hires who are unprepared to communicate in the workplace?

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Dean Brenner

A book about change

The Latimer Group’s CEO Dean Brenner is a noted keynote speaker and author on the subject of persuasive communication. He has written three books, including Persuaded, in which he details how communication can transform organizations into highly effective, creative, transparent environments that succeed at every level.