For so many working professionals in the healthcare communications sector, hybrid working offers the perfect balance between having your own space to focus and collaborating with a team.
However, flexible working dynamics can sometimes mean that- even with the option to go into an office- team members don't get the chance to interact face to face as much as they would like. Differing work schedules and commitments can result in people coming into the office in drips and drabs, and as a result employees can go weeks without seeing every member of their team.
This is why it's so important to schedule dedicated face-to-face time with your colleagues, providing an opportunity to socialise and connect that works for every one.
Remote work, even for those who find it works best, can be isolating. By scheduling monthly social events that will give the team the chance to meet and catch-up informally, companies can help to nurture working relationships that will ultimately support the overall happiness and integration of a team.
Working remotely can also make it more difficult to discuss topics like mental and physical health, with conversations via the phone or computer feeling impersonal or invasive. By offering opportunities to meet in person, teams can foster a level of familiarity with one-another and their management to mediate this sense of distance. This, in turn, will promote a healthy and open work environment in which employees feel as though their overall wellbeing and happiness is supported, even when working from home.
Whilst the pandemic has meant that the vast majority of people (all be it unwittingly) adapted to remote working, it is no secret that distance can and does provide barriers to communication. Whether its working together on a visual design task, or asking a simple question, face-to-face discussions provide an efficiency that is difficult to replicate online or over the phone.
In person meetings can also provide the opportunity for more efficient collaboration and creativity. Even though many of us have survived the dreaded group teams call, it's no secret that connection issues and audio overlaps can often make a simple task feel complicated. By scheduling set days for teams to come into an office or physical location, everyone can plan and prioritise tasks which benefit from taking place in person. Whether it's discussing visuals, meeting new members of the team, or making the most of the chance to get some new company photos, pre-determined "in-office" days are a great way to better prioritise your team's time.
Not every meet has to be about the practical; they can also make time for fun with your colleagues. Even though it is possible to have a laugh over the phone or via a webcam, nothing quite compares to catching up in person. Even if a team is 100% remote based, it is paramount that companies still provide regular work socials so that teams can enjoy success together. When planning socials for remote teams, don't forget to consider the costs for those who may have to travel to a new location. Set aside funds for subsidised travel costs and hotel stays for long journeys, so that all team members can take part without having to dip into their own pockets to get there and back.
Don't forget: Planning F2F meets should always take into consideration the needs of all team members. Ensure that plans are diverse and inclusive by insisting that team activities are accessible to all taking part. It's also important to remember that "forced fun" isn't fun, and for a variety of reasons some may not want to take part in social days and activities. Whilst it's natural to want to encourage everyone to get involved, take care to acknowledge team members with additional needs who may require extra support.