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Guest post by Lindsey Wilcox, Clear Law Institute
Trust and creativity — it’s a funny combination–and it’s essential for successful hybrid work. Trust encourages people to be honest, express their ideas freely, and take chances. Trust breeds creativity and is the catalyst to make things happen.
Accelerated by the pandemic, a hybrid workplace is where some people work from home some or all of the time, others may physically commute to work some or all of the time or a combination of both. However, this type of hybrid environment can lead to a number of challenges for both employees and employers.
With a dispersed workforce, creating a culture of trust should be a top priority in order to foster as much creativity and innovation as possible. But, how can you create an environment of trust and collaboration? How do you overcome the challenges of the hybrid workplace? Here are six steps to help you on your way.
1. Establish what trust means in the hybrid workplace
Trust is the foundation of a positive hybrid work environment. If people don’t trust each other, it can make it difficult for them to work together. Without trust, people will be hesitant to take risks, speak their minds, and they’ll be more likely to hold back in a given area of their work. Even if people have the right intentions, without trust, it can be very hard for them to actually put those good intentions into action.
After all, how can you ask someone to follow through on something if you don’t have the confidence they will do it?
So, what exactly promotes trust in the workplace? Well, trust is built over time and is slightly different for each individual. But, the core habits of a trustworthy colleague should be established and communicated from the top-down and throughout the organization. It should be explicitly defined and made clear to everyone in the organization to ensure that although some small variations may exist, the organization is aligned as to how to define trust.
Ask the leaders of your company what they want trust to look like. How do you want it to be defined? Is it as simple as people being honest with each other? Or, is it more than that? What specific behaviors and actions do you want people to exhibit when they are truly confident that their co-workers or their superiors will have their back?
Whatever your definition of trust is, take steps to communicate it clearly throughout the entire organization. Make sure all employees understand exactly what behaviors and actions will be rewarded with trust.
2. How to build trust in the hybrid workplace
Trust is an important ingredient in any successful workplace. However, in the hybrid workplace, it is especially important because it helps ensure that remote and on-site workers can successfully and effectively collaborate.
Here are some things you can do to build trust in the hybrid workplace:
- Model and reinforce trust yourself
If you want people to trust you, you need to trust them. Show up on time. Be willing to take risks, express your ideas freely and openly communicate with your colleagues. Be willing to admit mistakes yourself and learn from them. Follow through on promises and commitments and do whatever it takes to ensure that the team is aligned and pulling in the same direction.
One option is to create a secure whistleblowing channel to demonstrate your commitment to employee well-being and openness to employee complaints, and to allow them to anonymously report issues without fear of reprisal.
- Create a culture of communication
It’s important to create an environment that encourages risk-taking, creativity and innovation. Yet, it’s also important to create an environment that is safe to do those things.
But how do you go about that? By communicating as frequently as possible with your team. When people are working from home and teams are dispersed, there is a greater margin for miscommunication and they may feel unsupervised or even abandoned. Communication is important to ensure everyone is on the same page, and it provides the perfect opportunity to highlight a job well done, a good idea or to bring up a roadblock. Communicating openly with your team is one of the most important factors that builds trust in the hybrid workplace. If your employees see you as being open, honest and accepting of small errors in line with a larger goal – then they will behave the same.
As the old saying goes “Monkey see, monkey do”
Therefore, it is essential to provide constant communication to keep people informed and connected to build trust and foster creativity.
- Provide employees opportunities
Give people the tools and information they need to be successful and constructive. Empower your team by trusting them first. If you take the first step and show your employees that you trust them, they’ll be more likely to trust you back. So how can you make it clear that you trust your people? Show them by encouraging professional development and autonomy. Add extra responsibilities to their plate. Invite them to sit in on meetings that they typically wouldn’t attend.
If your company offers formal training programs, make sure they’re available to remote workers. However, if your organization doesn’t offer formal training, consider offering self-directed online learning or some other type of self-paced education. This way, employees can be exposed to other areas of the business they wouldn’t normally see., Offering new opportunities demonstrates trust, keeps employees engaged, and allows them to discover new talents.
That’s a win-win for the organization and the individual. Both benefit from a more trustworthy and creative hybrid workplace.
3. Emphasize the importance of creativity in the hybrid workplace
Trust promotes creativity, and creativity promotes trust. When there is a lack of trust, people might stop dreaming big. They might stop challenging the status quo. As a result, enormous opportunities for success or growth might be missed.
Encourage every individual to bring their best ideas to the table, and their authentic selves to work. Whether they are communicating over a Zoom call, a chat over Microsoft Teams, or in-person at the office– if someone is comfortable being themselves, there are no barriers to their thought process. Less friction means more freedom, and with freedom comes creativity and innovation – something every organization works hard to foster.
Provide opportunities for all team members to share their knowledge and expertise. Let team members know that they will be valued not only for their technical skills, but also for their ability to contribute in other ways.
4. How to build creativity in the hybrid workplace
Not every tactic will work in every situation. However, the right tactic, used properly, can significantly increase your chances of success. What that tactic is, depends on your workplace. As a leader, one way to stimulate creativity is to:
- Give people an opportunity to express their ideas
Give people a chance to “wing it.” Give employees a voice. Encourage people to ask questions, offer ideas, and take chances.
When people are encouraged to be creative, they can surprise themselves and inspire others around them. Therefore, giving people opportunities to be creative by providing as many opportunities as possible is important in order to stimulate creativity.
- Encourage collaboration
Collaboration breeds innovation. Innovation is the fuel that drives an organization forward. If you want to encourage collaboration, set up regular brainstorming sessions with your hybrid team.
Your hybrid team might face challenges because of the dynamic between remote work and traditional work. Be prepared and account for some difficulties in team collaboration and communication. The payoff for overcoming these obstacles will be significant and long-lasting.
Give your people challenging assignments but provide adequate resources and let them leverage those resources in a way that works for them. Creativity doesn’t work the same for everyone, so give your employees ample chances, resources and encourage collaboration.
- Reward quality over quantity
It’s easy to fall into the trap of trying to do too much. We all want our projects to be a success, so we force every idea until it becomes obvious that none of them are working.
Instead, the team should strive for quality, not quantity and definitely not perfection. Creativity and trust in the hybrid workplace is built over time, so account for some miss-steps along the way to reach the final destination. Recognize and reward good work so employees know what it looks like, and be prepared for when things don’t go exactly to plan as your team finds a groove that works for them.
You don’t want your employees overworked for something that may not see the light of day, so focus resources on the right tasks and reward quality over quantity.
5. Listening is key for trust and creativity
Listening is at the core of great communication, and great communication is the foundation for trust. Without effective communication, establishing trust and creativity can become incredibly difficult, if not impossible.
If you truly want to understand what makes people tick, give your employees the opportunity to speak candidly, pay attention to what they are saying and how they are saying it. If you want to improve your relationship with your team, listen to them.
Employee surveys are the single best way to listen to your team in a hybrid work environment. WorkTango’s Surveys & Insights solution allows you to easily deploy frequent pulse surveys to listen to the most pressing needs of employees. Schedule a demo to learn more.
6. If you want a creative hybrid workplace, you need to value differences
Don’t try to convert everyone to your way of thinking. Instead, celebrate the fact that your employees bring different experiences, perspectives, and expectations to the workplace.
Encourage your employees to express their different points of view. The result will be a more innovative and likely a more successful organization.
When people feel valued they are more likely to contribute their unique ideas and perspectives. They are also more likely to speak up and express their ideas and opinions. This is extremely positive, as the most diverse companies are now more likely than ever to outperform less diverse peers on profitability.
To help your diverse workforce remain effective and avoid instances of discrimination or harassment, online training, like a course on sexual harassment prevention, can help everyone feel safe and equally valued.
When people do not feel valued, they tend to play it safe and conform to the status quo. They may become apathetic, uninvolved and eventually completely disengaged from work.
People want to feel valued for their uniqueness and to have their contributions recognized. Employees prefer to be treated as individuals, not a number or a cog in the machine.
When there is a lack of creativity in the workplace, not much happens. Nothing new or innovative gets introduced into an organization without creativity. The organization stays stuck in the past. Stagnant.
This is a terrible state of affairs because nothing can grow if it remains stagnant. True innovation is the engine that drives an organization forward. It keeps it healthy and growing.
Without differences and innovation, an organization will eventually stagnate and die. It needs something new and fresh, something exciting that keeps it going and challenging the status quo. It all starts with your people.
Build trust and creativity in your hybrid workplace
More and more businesses are moving toward a hybrid work structure. With this comes new challenges and opportunities. Don’t get bogged down by the details. Instead, focus on the big picture.
Focus on creating an environment where people are free to be creative, to fail, to take risks, and to express themselves. Where people feel they can truly make a contribution and be valued for that contribution. Where they can honestly pursue their dreams with no fear of failure. Where they can do what they do best without having to worry about whether or not their work will be judged.
In short, people need an environment where they can truly be themselves in order to reach peak organizational performance and culture.
At WorkTango, we’re revolutionizing how the world’s most forward-thinking companies engage and inspire their people. We offer the only holistic Employee Experience Platform built for the modern workplace that enables meaningful recognition and rewards, offers actionable insights through employee surveys, and supports alignment through goal setting and feedback.
WorkTango is built for the workplace we all want to be a part of – where priorities become clear, achievements are celebrated, and employees have a voice. To learn more, check out our platform overview video, or schedule a demo.