The Godel POD: Episode 3 – Keeping Connectivity in a Hybrid World with Godel Technologies

This series is about “Keeping Connectivity in a Hybrid World”. In the third episode of The Godel POD, we are joined by Diana Grishel, Senior Agile Delivery Coordinator and Constantine Grishel, Agile Delivery Coordinator at Godel Technologies.

Sarah Foster: Hi Diana, hi Constantine, tell me about yourselves.

Constantine Grishel: Okay, I can start. Hi Sara, I’m Constantine, I’m an Agile Delivery Coordinator at Godel Technologies, and also, I work here as a Talent Manager.

Diana Grishel: Hi Sarah. I’m Diana I’m also an Agile Delivery Coordinator and I’m also working with education of kind of cross company and other Agile Delivery Coordinators.

Sarah Foster: Fabulous. So obviously, thinking about connectivity within the hybrid world and high performing teams in the new hybrid world. What does a return to work or a return to normality work look like for you?

Constantine Grishel: I don’t really think that we can return to normal. I don’t really know how we can do it now. What I’m seeing on the market, is that most of the companies and developers I’ve talked to are using some kind of hybrid workspace, where guys just book a workplace for themselves, or they need to attend several days a week. But still, as a company, we still need to talk to our colleagues in the real world, because for the last year I think that all of us, suffered from this need, of having back to back calls and just not having time for the actual work when you can just go to the next place and ask your developer for your test or somebody else just to do something or to answer your question. And now we need to set up a call, we need to go in the call, we are not available while we’re on the call, so it’s complicated. I think that it won’t be as it was before where we are all in seeing authors, but we will need to have some kind of hybrid model here.

Diana Grishel: Yeah, I agree I think that we’re discovering the new normal. So, something that will be different from what we perceive this normal before, but you know there was some time when we didn’t have emails or we didn’t have the mobile phones at hand, and we had to schedule the phones, and drop at different places and just see if he or her is there. So, this is different for us now as we have the kind of the connectivity, and it changed after the cards also I think that this is something we’re having evolved.

Sarah Foster: So obviously from time of recording you guys are both work home at the moment. Do you think you will be returning back into the office at all, even if it’s a staggered return?

Constantine Grishel: From my side I can see that on one of my projects, I tried 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. It really helps to motivate you to work with not just the avatars in teams also. So, I think that if I would have big team, I will just ask them if they can just come to the office one day we could see, or maybe even more, just to see the each other just to have a tea or coffee, to have some chats, so yeah I think that I will do that.

Diana Grishel: Yeah, I’ve been at the office in Minsk yesterday when I got my vaccine shot, and it was so interesting because I met lots of people that I haven’t seen for months, and it gave this nice feeling that you’re really connected. I see that dropping in the office for a day or two, is very important to keep the connection, that bond that you have with real people, even a hug, grabbing a lunch with someone is essential because when we don’t see each other, that’s a bit different. And at the same time, I see how we’re kind of very productive, even working remotely, especially when we can accommodate some things that we have at home, or get the deliveries, or just have some space. In the office you have lots of people that you have to interact and that you have to talk to and they’re just stopping by. My desk is at the kind of path of people who are going to the admins. So, cutting people are just constantly going here and there and when you’re working for quite some time in the company you know a lot of people. So, your focus is kind of blurred in it and when you’re at home, you can focus on what you need to get done, and it helps a lot. And I understand that when I’m not feeling that energetic, it’s better for me to work from home because I can get things done. But at some point, I want to go to the office and meet the people I work with.

Sarah Foster: So, do you think with having that kind of hybrid model and having some people in the team work from home who more regularly or some people in the office more regularly, it will see those everyday work conversations fizzle out so that the, Hi, how are you what are you doing this weekend, those nice conversations that we have on a day to day. Do you think they’ll fizzle out?

Diana Grishel: You know, actually, there is something funny with me trying to get some regular conversation like that, when I usually write someone and ask him like, Hey, how are you, What’s up, and on numerous occasions they’re like, Diana do I owe you something. Did you ask me to do something and I just forgot about that. I’m like, no, I’m just honestly chatting with you, trying to get to know what’s been up. And I think that at some point, this kind of social conversation might proceed as you’re just warming up a bit and then you have something because we, again, having lots of chats, I mean in a day you can have 20 different chats in Skype or teams, and you can get lost. And if you don’t have that much time, sometimes it’s just easier to get straight to the matter at hand. At the same time, it is also very precious when we find some time for this social conversation, and you find out that the people that they work with our very interesting people. I know hobbies, what people had in their background, what they did, that’s very interesting. I think that we need to preserve to know people from a more from a 3D perspective, more deeply.

Constantine Grishel: There was a good point, actually, that we are just used now to go straight to the point, because you have so much of those conversations you have so much else you need to have attention on and you just are not going in this nice way that we were used to. How are you doing oh yeah, I just took off. Can you help me with this one, and stuff like that? But it potentially from my point of view, it can lead to burnout, it can lead to some social disconnections and it’s bad for us as a team, as a business. People are social animals right and they can’t do without the social interactions, just the usual ones that are comforting them in some way. I think that we will still have this, but this time this year that we were working out of office, from different offices. We just really didn’t know how to deal with it. But we will be used to it in the future, I think.

Sarah Foster: Yeah, so you kind of mentioned it with burnout, without that kind of commuting wind up or wind down on the side. Do you think we’re at further accelerated risk of burnout?

Constantine Grishel: From my point of view, we don’t have that routine, you know that people are feeling calmer when they have their plans, when they have the routine, they are used to. For example, I’m getting out of bed let’s say at 8am, I’m having breakfast, then I go to the shower then I look through my social networks and then I open my email. But now what I’m feeling personally, is that when I’m out of the bed, I am at work instantly. And I think that it may lead to burnout, obviously, but again, as we are trying to get used to this speed of life, I think that we are spending more time on, books and our hobbies. People just can’t do their work for a long time so I think that we are finding our own ways.

Diana Grishel: I think that some things that were just naturally occurring when you’re having a commute, when you’re going out for lunch, out of the office or something like that. They were happening by themselves and now we need to pay attention to it, we need to put it to control that they’re there, that you have a walk in the morning so that you can some sunshine, as sun helps your immune system, the way how you feel, and the fresh air also helps you. And if don’t have a lunch break between the four and four hours of meeting, well you can’t think straight. You need to have a stretch; you need to have a walk every 40 minutes or something. Without that, the bodies and function enrolled. So right now we need to think how we can incorporate small habits into our life to make sure that we’re getting better, because if we’re just trying to work as it works from the bad and you know, working for 10 hours while it comes up, this can last a week or two, but on the span of months or a year is this something that well is leading to burnout and things like that. think that it’s not working from home that’s leading to it, it’s more like not having the small bits and pieces that we previously got to, despite the design of our lifestyles, and we still can put them ourselves.

Sarah Foster: Yeah, it’s all about having those boundaries, isn’t it, and setting yourself that routine. So with this kind of hybrid model, do you think that will affect attrition. So do you think having people with the added risk of burnout will make people move companies more frequently or companies move staff frequently?

Constantine Grishel: Actually, I don’t know, because as I said, we are working like this just over a year. It’s really short time for people to understand what’s happening with it. And as we can see the situation is changing. Some countries are open for some time and then they are closed now. Why I’m saying that we don’t know because we don’t know what the situation will be tomorrow. For us it may lead to burnout, it may lead to people wanting to change the companies. But from our side, working at Godel, I think that the policies that companies have and their values, the main value is their people, or companies need to ask themselves what they can do to make people’s work easier or maybe calmer, maybe not to drive on efficiency so much. But for now, I can’t say.

Diana Grishel: Yeah I mean, I’ve been working on this particular combat and one of the things that I had in mind is that right now with more hybrid worlds with working remotely without opportunities and potentially it might mean that you have more opportunities staying with the same company and if you want to go and spend a weekend working from the forest where you have the Wi Fi, well you can do that, you will be still working, but in the evening, it can be nice and you will breathe in the fresh air of nature if and how to support people. I think that it gives some level of freedom. That’s why I would say that I didn’t think that it would lead to more people changing the companies, but it may lead to people understanding what they want better because now as we lost lots of things like the freedom of movements. We were understanding more what is important for us, what we value and what we want to do with our life.

Constantine Grishel: Yeah, and also I can say that for now I see that the world is like opening for us because when we are living in our country, we have these daily routines, it may be the same for some people, you know, just home, work, home or work, training Centre in homes, or something like that, and you have just your weekends to relax, to be with your family. But now we can spend time with our family, even when we are working as we do from the same lab, or you can get education, not just in your company or in your school or university, you can go to any part of the world, and access the knowledge you always could do that, but it’s now becoming open for us, because we are looking fir those opportunities. And yeah, again, it was a really good point, when we are losing something, we are re estimating the value of it for us. So, if we’re losing some important stuff like having a conversation with colleagues, then we will value it higher than we need. So, yeah, we can appreciate that.

Sarah Foster: So, how will you ensure that the company values for Godel or ethos remains the same when not everyone is in the office. Is there anything that you particularly do with your teams?

Constantine Grishel: I can say from two points of view, from the point of Agile Delivery Coordinator and from the point of Talent Management. We’re actually starting to do more of those one-to-one meetings with our colleagues where we ask them, and we don’t really have had this I guess in in our teams when we were in the office. You know when you are sitting just two have you, and you can talk about things that matter for you now, things that are worrying you. If you have some discomfort, if you have it any issues. It’s funny can actually, we can listen to each other, we can give support to each other. And we’re trying to do this in talent management, in coordination of our projects. And I think, Diana can correct me, but she has several one two ones, I can see that each week. So yeah, we are doing it more often than we did when we were in the office.

Sarah Foster: And what about yourself Diana, is there anything that Constantine didn’t mention that you do particularly with your team?

Diana Grishel: Yeah, I tried to have some sessions with the team as a whole, just to have a conversation to raise, things just to have a few laughs, I think that lots of teams do have like funky time, where they just have a call on chat about everything but work, and I see that it’s incredibly good and works out okay. And they also play online, board games. It’s also fun when you can connect, you don’t necessarily need to be in a pub to do some team building, you can do this otherwise. And that’s perfectly fine. I’m currently working with the Portuguese team. But COVID was around so I’ve never met them in person. But still, the feedback that I’m getting is good, we have a very close connection. They talk to me more than they talk to the colleagues that they work with in the office. I kind of gather this is proof that we can keep connected and we can show people that we care, even if we’re 1000s of kilometres away or remotely located

Sarah Foster: Yeah. And what we do you guys do to ensure that all the team feels connected so every single member?

Constantine Grishel: It’s a really good question. I think that it’s something that we just feel accepted with, we can use some kind of health check to understand how a team feels about their work, about their work environment and stuff like that, you know with health checks, or just to team health checks. So that’s how we can judge about the group. But usually, as we work closely with them, we still have those conversations with them, not just one to ones, but as a group. We just can feel something is going wrong, if, let’s say someone was working fine last week but this week. He’s not performing at all; we always can come to him and ask you. It’s okay. But I think that it’s more from our experience, it’s more from compassion to people that we deal with. That’s what helps us to understand if all is going well or not.

Diana Grishel: Yeah, I think we have lots of little cues that are right now, more or less unconscious that we act or did not act on. For example, if someone is silent and not speaking up, if someone is moody or is reacting more like tough or rude than they used to. Or, if you see that there are some issues and the team isn’t bringing it up, they are not discussing it and they’re just making an impression that it’s not happening, ignoring some things, or if they give up, if they don’t have done take the responsibility for things. So those are the cues that the team isn’t communicating on a good level that they don’t have probably the safe environment, or they didn’t have trust in the team, and this is something that we, as Agile Delivery Coordinators can say that well guys, like, we noticed, I noticed that this is happening, what do you think, would you like to do something with that. Why do you think it’s happening, and engaging the team into discussing what’s, what’s that, and also some kind of health checks. It might be just how you’re feeling, or again, that shows how this is done right. During graver perspective, or for those who are more into that, find a picture that represents how you feel because this is something that shows you what the guys have on their mind, and helps us to understand if we need to act, or if they’re fine with themselves.

Sarah Foster: Yeah, that leads really nicely on. So, how can you support the fear of failure. How do you prevent people from fearing that failure aspect in their day-to-day work?

Diana Grishel: You know, I would say what I like to do is to be open myself and share different things that I have. I know that right now, as we have those social networks, and we judge how everything is based on the post and Instagram or Facebook or by the pictures that they post to Skype and the time that they have on their face during the video call. It’s easy to get distracted in delusions that everyone is kind of is doing better than you. And that’s why I try to be open regarding that. I mean not oversharing. If I don’t feel right, I am saying that, okay so guys I’m not at my best today, I’m sorry. Or if I do something wrong, for example, yesterday I scheduled a meeting on Thursday and Thursday is a bank holiday in Portugal, and I kind of missed that. And I said okay guys sorry, my bad. Obviously, I’m not gonna make you work on your bank holiday, so I’ve rescheduled. And by me responding when I do something wrong, it makes the team understand that it’s okay to fail and it’s okay to discuss that and admit that, that the treatment will be more or less the same, that they won’t be judged as people, it will be just telling them that they did something that wasn’t the best thing in that situation.

Constantine Grishel: Yeah, it’s actually in Belarusian culture that we are so afraid of failure, but it’s really a cultural thing. What we can do here, I think we need to have complete trust between us in our teams, and we need to understand that people are not judging us as individuals if I did something wrong. It doesn’t mean that you’re a bad person, and it should be translated in some way. That’s the first thing. The second one, Diana said that she tries to be open, I just tried to show if I failed at something because people need to see that. If you are a leader, you can fail as well. And it’s totally fine to fail, nothing happens. I think that’s translation and showing by example, is a good thing, and people need to understand that if you are asking them about something that they did wrong, you are not judging them. It’s not that you are thinking about them worse than you thought before this conversation. You need to be friendly, you need to stay the same team, it doesn’t matter how they did this week or this month.

Sarah Foster: So, with that, it kind of leads quite nicely on to, how do we stop bias in a hybrid world, to those working from the office are those working from home? So, encouraging that fair treatment and ensuring the welfare is there already. How do you prevent that if you’re with someone day in and day out?

Diana Grishel: I think that right now, we all were in a situation when we were to work from home. So, it adds up to the empathy to people who are not in the office, so we’re in the shoes of the person who isn’t invited to the meeting, or who doesn’t know that something is happening because someone decided on that in the private chat and didn’t share it to the common channel or spoke about it in a meeting, in a call but didn’t share it in the team space. I think that it helps to realise first that he was a professional who is capable to be a good professional if you’re working from home with your path. And I think that if it just helps and supports. So at the same time, we again can attention to these things when we see that someone is doing something that doesn’t include people from home or working from different conditions from different time zones, or something that we can again address that empathy part, if people just misunderstood then explain it to them.

Constantine Grishel: So it’s about building trust between the team members obviously and we have several ways of doing that and we have some actions that we call destructors, or for trust. And we have actions that we call the creators of trust. And there is a great book actually about this, that is called the Speed of Trust by Steven Colby. I got lots of ideas from there and I think that’s showing empathy as you said, is one of the main things that we need to understand, we need to try to think from some other shoes. And we need to understand what context, they are in right now. It’s great to have this visibility between the team who is working from where and do they have relatives working with them or living with them. It’s a bit more complicated, I’m reading a two-hour lecture about it, a two-hour workshop. So yeah, I just can name the book.

Sarah Foster: And just to finalise our chat now. So, within the hybrid world and keeping that high performing team, keeping those connectivity aspects. Is there anything that you would like to share with anybody, any tips or any kind of hints that you’ve found that works?

Diana Grishel: So, yeah, I use a very interesting, very nice facilitation techniques that are called liberating structures, and they are helping when you are offline in an office or when you are doing online. So there are a set of different ways how you can organise a chat, when you need to involve lots of people and make them decide for them. They work actually quite nice, especially with teams having the breakout firms, when you can push people to different smaller groups for them to discuss. And I see that it’s a very fun and engaging way to facilitate the meeting when you want to hear from everyone and you want everyone to be involved, and they’re quite easy to use, and there are something like 33 of them to the different tastes. When you have a huge events like 100 or 200 people or if you have just five people that you need to come to a conclusion or share the experience. And this way it works not to have a speaking hat on the meeting that is kind of know it all and just get all the space, but have everyone to work on that, yeah, it works good.

Constantine Grishel: I just wanted to say that those liberating structures are great because you are not obliged to facilitate every meeting, every aspect of the meeting, that’s great. So that’s one tip that I can say I’ve done. For now, I see that we need to read and understand more about the psychology about empathy, about being self-conscious and work on our emotional intelligence. There is lots of literature out there, lots of courses, but I think that for now, it’s the most important for us to understand what it is because previously, several years ago, nobody was talking about that, because we just thought about, psychologists, as doctors, as scientists. But it comes to workplace, obviously because we really need to understand how people think, what do they feel, how to understand what they feel why they are feeling this how can we help them; how can you support them. I think that’s the most valuable advice that they can give.

Sarah Foster: Is there anything else either of you would like to add at all?

Diana Grishel: I would say also about the importance of visualisation when we are discussing something right now. If people are more drawn to a physical world, when we were just chatting about something, they’ll go, and we can’t, you know, grab a thing or two. We have lots of interesting tools that help us to do that, like, you know, mirror, or De Muro, they are a great help for me in conducting any sort of meetings retrospectives or any facilitation that I have, because they help to keep the attention of people in one place. Obviously, it doesn’t work with everyone I know lots of people who can’t do that, they didn’t like mirror and they usually say well no, but for those people there are different other ways of, of doing that. But it’s important to have something written down or a drawing of something when we’re discussing, just to make sure that everyone is there. They didn’t lose their focus.

Constantine Grishel: Yeah, and also about the visualisation, it’s good to see everybody because when it’s just 10 people sitting on the meeting and they have just their avatars, they are light enough when you ask somebody speaking, it’s not really a great way. Because, yeah, we understand that somebody can just sit at the meeting in their underwear, and that’s fine. If you’re not going to stand up. But still, we need to see each other, we need to see the expressions on each other’s faces. And I think that we need to encourage this more in our teams and make it part of our team culture. They started to talk about it and your team needs to take responsibilities and they need to, I mean, once you’re know not committing to the delivery or something, they need to do that, but not in this conversation. You need to ask them to take responsibility for the conversation because everybody should be involved. It’s not about two leaders, just talking to each other because it doesn’t make sense for all other team members to be there. So, we just encourage people to speak, and let them see each other.

Sarah Foster: Well everything that you’ve said is really great and thanks for the hints and tips and it’s been great to chat with you both.

Constantine Grishel: Yeah, it’s great to chat with you. Thank you.

Diana Grishel: Thank you.