Hybrid Communication

We know that hybrid work is popular – at least with employees and growing firms. Personnel prefer a hybrid model 83% of the time, and it’s also favored by 63% of high-revenue growth companies 

While the approach may be embraced by many, it still comes with some drawbacks. One of those challenges is communication. In the best of circumstances, effective communication does not always come easily. With evolving technologies and team members in different locations or time zones, it can feel even more daunting to find the most effective methods for sharing information.  

However, those obstacles are surmountable. To optimize the benefits of hybrid workplaces, managers can elevate awareness of the common challenges impeding connection and use five tips to amplify understanding. 

What Gets the Wires of Communication Crossed? 

Misinterpretations arise from a multitude of situations, many of which we explore in our Mitigating Miscommunication eBook. When considering hybrid teams specifically, six challenges are often at fault: 

#1 – Proximity Bias 

This obstacle occurs when on-site staff receive more information than those who are off-site. The imbalance typically leads to confusion or a lack of awareness about projects or priorities. It may even cause off-site personnel to feel disengaged when they recognize the disconnet.  

#2 – Silos 

It’s not uncommon for more disconnects to occur when people have less face time. Individual contributors or teams in different locations may simply have their heads down and be working toward their goals without pausing to think about who else needs to be involved. 

#3 – One-way traffic 

Sometimes in hybrid workspaces, managers and leaders get in the habit of pushing out information without identifying channels to receive input as well. When communication flows only one way, staff may hesitate to raise new ideas or feel uninspired to contribute. 

#4 – Media misuse 

With so many channels and messaging apps available, it can be challenging to choose the right option. Individuals could end up sharing updates on media that are not well-suited to the message being delivered and create confusion or misalignment. 

#5 – Lag time 

Especially in larger organizations where employees are working in different locations, time lapses between messages are a real challenge. When collaborators are not able to interact in real time, it can disrupt workflows and cause unintended delays.  

#6 – Style Differences 

Misunderstandings commonly arise because people prefer to give and receive information differently. This challenge applies to ANY work environment, and it can be even more pronounced in remote spaces. That’s because cues like facial expressions or tone may be removed from virtual media, leading to a greater likelihood of misinterpretations. 

What Can Managers Do to Create Strong Connections? 

To rewire communications to enable employees to work positively and productively in any environment, I encourage you to implement these five recommendations. 

#1 – Understand employee preferences 

Start by talking to direct reports. Ask them about their preferred ways to interact, including what channels work best for them as well as the delivery and style that best supports the ways they like to process information. For example, seemingly small things like knowing who appreciates a joke and who wants to get “just the facts” helps people feel more connected and informed. Learning about employees’ Thinking and Behavioral preferences also allows managers to convey information effectively. 

#2 – Define guidelines 

Setting rules of engagement supports groups in limiting proximity bias, breaking down silos and reducing the misuse of media. Collaborate with staff to discuss how best to share updates, discuss new ideas or address changes in direction. By determining when to use what channels as well as who needs to stay in the know, managers will empower their direct reports to interact efficiently. Also, be mindful to set timelines for responses and feedback to encourage a healthy pace. 

#3 – Balance digital and face-to-face media 

Often in a hybrid environment, email or chat becomes the default form of interaction. In many instances, digital channels are great technologies to use, and face-to-face communication is also essential for team building and performance. Seeing people’s expressions as well as hearing their tone helps to reduce confusion and creates emotional connection. Be sure to strike a balance and remember that face-to-face does not always have to be live. Recording short videos can be a great way to provide updates without having people in multiple time zones working extended hours. 

#4 – Promote honest dialog with feedback loops 

Make sure that one-way traffic does not become a norm by establishing channels to receive input. Part of this recommendation starts by ensuring the communication guidelines are built to allow the group to share feedback when possible and provide them with avenues to deliver their thoughts. Additionally, be mindful to invest time in building listening skills across the department. That way, staff feel equipped to ask clarifying questions and determine appropriate next steps to address what’s been shared.  

#5 – Conduct post-mortems 

After an initiative is completed, meet with the team or create a virtual whiteboard where colleagues can discuss what went well and what could have been improved upon. The inputs typically surface silos or inefficiencies and lead to new ideas to optimize communication. By being open to iterating on the guidelines that were defined, employees will continuously advance the way they exchange information and interact. 

Strong communication enhances productivity and serves as the foundation for a more connected, engaged workforce. If you are seeking more insights to improve interactions in your workplace – no matter what environment you may be operating in – I invite you to explore our eBook: Mitigating Miscommunication. Inside, you will uncover actionable tips to use our Emergenetics framework to minimize intent-impact gaps as well as address disconnects when they appear. 


Learn why 87% of Emergenetics clients report that Emergenetics reduces miscommunication. Visit our website or fill out the form below to speak with one of our team members today! 


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