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Fostering innovation in a hybrid workplace

Angela Guedes
December 14, 2022
Hybrid Beats

🚨 Highlight of the week

Fostering innovation in a hybrid workplace

A recent study highlights the impact hybrid work has on casual encounters between co-workers: there’s a 28% decrease in informal interactions for people working remotely versus those working in the office. It makes sense: without an office to share, we can’t randomly chat with a teammate in the cafeteria or when crossing paths in the hallways. What might not be so obvious at first is the impact the decrease of these casual conversations has on the organization: “productivity on longer-term projects is at risk, especially those that require some degree of innovation”. This is the main finding from a new study that analyzed data of approximately 61,000 Microsoft employees in the U.S.

"Without intervention, the effects we discovered have the potential to impact workers' ability to acquire and share new information across groups, and as a result, affect productivity and innovation," they write. "Based on previous research, we believe that the shift to less 'rich' communication media may have made it more difficult for workers to convey and process complex information."

So.. what does this mean for remote and hybrid organizations?

First, let’s put things into perspective. Microsoft is the first to call out the limitations of their research, the main one being that it only includes employees of a single technology company. One that was primarily office-based and only recently started shifting to a hybrid model.

Secondly, as Michael Arena mentions in the first article we mentioned, “there are plenty of ways to increase informal interactions, even for predominately remote employees. It just can’t be left to chance.”

Before we present his ideas, it’s important to acknowledge that creativity comes from linking ideas that didn’t have any link altogether. And there are two ways to do this:

  • Introverted: we let our mind roam free and dream. Our brain creates weird connections when we also have the time to think about other things. Here remote work helps, as we have the space and silence to wonder while working on problems.
  • Extroverted: we confront our ideas with people that don’t have any link with us and here siloization (remote) breaks this effect.

So how can we break silos and make ideas circulate between teams when working remotely? Here are some ideas shared by Michael Arena and how you can implement them with Claap:

Make the informal, formal. Make space for spontaneous discussions in regular team rituals. For example, invite peers from other departments to your team meetings or customers to your all-hands. Bringing new perspectives will spark ideas and new solutions to problems.

  • How to do this with Claap: by having discussions in Claap and centralize them in your workspace, anyone in the org can participate. The same when you record team meetings and interviews with customers: everyone can watch on their own time and contribute with fresh ideas.

Encourage informal learning shares. Challenge employees to reach out and learn from people outside their core team. Then, find space in formal routines to openly share these learnings with each other.

  • How to do this with Claap: start by recording live trainings and documenting key learnings. Then make them accessible in your knowledge base and incorporate in your onboarding programs.

Engage informal opinion leaders in meetings. To ensure greater influence from key influencers, invite these informal option leaders into team discussions. Set up meetings with these people and ask for their early thoughts on a solution.

  • How to do this with Claap: leverage video annotation to bring experts to the discussion. For example, we regularly do design reviews with customers and industry leaders, with the simple share of a claap recording.

Create a high energy environment. An environment of psychological safety improves the flow of new ideas and solutions. One of the best ways to facilitate informal interactions is to encourage high energy exchanges.

  • How to do this with Claap: we deeply believe one of the best ways to build psychological safety and engaged employees is by enabling distributed decision-making. Individuals want to be empowered to make bold decisions in order to achieve their goals without relying on endless chains of command. Radical transparency and asynchronous collaboration is key to achieve this mission.

If you want to explore more ways to fuel creativity in remote organizations, have a look at this article/interview we wrote a while back: Art/Work: finding fresh perspectives for creativity while remote

🍿 Great discussions

  • Bonnie Dilber brings attention to possible discriminatory practices when companies force employees to return to the office, especially for those that have always worked remotely.
  • Dr. Dale Whelehan shares the results of the 4-day workweek experiment in Ireland. Hint: it’s positive.
  • Kapil Kale, co-founder and COO of Tremendous and former COO at AngelList, shares his profitable strategy for designing a workplace optimized for remotework culture.

🤓 Cool findings

  • Get a custom AI video avatar of you from @synthesiaIO based off of 2 minutes of video material
  • theGist provides personalized summaries of Slack channels and threads using generative AI
  • Mzia Popova is a Product Manager and UX designer sharing UX Design tips in her TikTok channel

💌 From the Community

  • Livestorm just released Live Event Interpretation, enabling you to communicate with your audience in over 30 languages.
  • Figures is hosting a live workshop to walk you through the best practices for you to prepare for your annual compensation review.
  • Lago went from went from 0 to 1K stars in less than 6 months! Read all about it here.

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