Last month, I was excited to launch the first instalment of The Godel POD, an exclusive podcast by Godel Technologies. My three-part series is called “Keeping Connectivity in a Hybrid World”. Throughout the series, I invited my guests to talk about topics and trends surrounding hybrid working, a discussion that I’ve found to be having with everyone I speak to as people gradually return to the office.

While it’s hard to summarise all the insightful conversations that took place, here are my 5 key takeaways from my podcast series.

1. Flexible working is part of the new normal

Not only have we demonstrated how we now communicate with our teams, but also how many have been given some form of ‘life’ back. Reducing the hours of commuting, being able to nip out and pick the kids up from school, being able to self-isolated during the pandemic and it not being detrimental to the business, or spending time with the family. It’s about finding that balance and flexible working allows us to do that.

On the flip side, I also posed the question about burnout, and without that commute, are we having the wind down time we would have previously had. Paul Pilling, Engineering Experience and Process Principle at Covéa Insurance, definitely agreed as he described losing that 40-minute commute to listen to music or a podcast was a challenge at first, but it’s also given him the flexibility to see his family. In episode 1 Dan McNeil, Director of Engineering at Comply Advantage made a point to highlight “I think we need to manage burnout and we need to encourage people to have downtime,” which key to for us to remember the responsibility we have as people.

2. The water cooler conversations are here to stay

The podcast brought to life how frequently we had these ‘water cooler conversations’ and how important they are in the day-to-day life, something I think we all took for granted before the pandemic. It’s still possible to have these conversations in the hybrid world by blocking out that time to have those informal chats with your team. In episode 2, I asked Paul whether he thought these conversations would fizzle out, he said, “I think it depends on your workforce and the culture of your organisation, because those water cooler chats for us have been on slack or teams.”

It’s no surprise that people want that social interaction and these chats are important going forward. People are using their digital platforms such as LinkedIn and Instagram to stay connected about more than just work updates.

3. It’s more important than ever to check in on people’s wellbeing

Whether it’s from home, or within the office, I think something we can take away from the last 18 months is checking in on people, asking how they’re doing and communicating. And when I say communication, I don’t just mean “how are you feeling about this sprint”, it’s more “how are you feeling this week?”. Remembering your team are people too, with families at home, children up through the night and dogs that need walking in the rain. Sometimes, talking over the screen isn’t always enough, as Constantine Grishel, Agile Delivery Coordinator at Godel points out in episode 3. “I try to go to the office several days a week, and it really helps. Even with mental health because when you see real people, you see your teammates.”

4. Be sure to include those that haven’t returned to the office

I asked all my guests “how do we stop bias to those who aren’t working in the office” because I think it’ really important to remember that although people are gradually returning, a lot haven’t, and those people shouldn’t be excluded for being remote. I like the idea of some of the things discussed such as everyone doing the call from their computer and having their screen turned on, ensuring everyone has a voice in a meeting and making everyone feel involved, wherever they are. As Diana Grishel, Senior Agile Delivery Coordinator at Godel mentioned, we were all in this position last year, so there is an element of empathy and we have already been in those person’s shoes.

5. It really is possible to stay connected in the hybrid world

I think staying connected in a hybrid world is about picking up on the cues when you know a team member isn’t happy or feels disconnected. This relates nicely to something Diana mentioned in episode 3, saying, “those cues that the team isn’t communicating on a good level, or they didn’t have trust in the team, this is something that we, as ADC’s can try to engage in the team and find out what’s going on.”

Something we come across a lot here at Godel is CTO’s, Development managers and Heads of divisions talking about how they can get the most from their team. How can we have more storyboard points achieved? How can the velocity improve vs the overhead count? How can my team be happier? But the one thing which comes up about how to get the most out of any team is down to us as people – and the level and quality of communication we provide.

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