With UK job vacancies reaching an all time high, it’s well and truly a talent market. 

This means that to attract and retain talent, businesses must take the time to ensure that they create and maintain an environment where their employees feel heard, engaged and connected to both to each other and to the company goals. 

So as a business leader, how can you create genuine connections in a hybrid working environment?

Build trust

To build trust while working with hybrid teams across time zones, leaders have to be much more intentional with their communication, as using non-verbal cues to establish connection isn’t always possible virtually. 

This might mean scheduling regular, informal catch ups or creating designated safe spaces for employees to speak up, voice their concerns and connect with peers. 

Asking employees about their schedules specifically (and modelling the behaviour, using your own schedule) will also help you create inclusive norms that work both remotely and in the office. For example, this could mean setting meeting-free time blocks so it’s clear if certain employees will be with their children. 

Don’t make assumptions

This is a guiding principle I follow. Some people can appear to not have other demands on their time, or that they are able to brush things off and not let anything affect them. 

Asking the same questions and having conversations with every single member of your team is the only way to mitigate any assumptions you may have. 

Then, when you have those conversations, collaborate on solutions and empower team members to bring them forward. 

Ramp up communication from leadership

Even when leaders can’t be physically present for their teams, internal communication channels can still be used to help teams feel informed and supported.  

Updates on exciting projects or team wins are especially important in a hybrid work environment, as it’s harder to know what others are working on when teams aren’t co-located at an office.  

It’s also important for leadership to clearly communicate plans, especially when they change – for example keeping teams up to date on return to office plans. 

By doing this, leadership is also setting the pace for other team members to share news and interact with each other’s achievements. 

Pay attention to new hires

Our data has shown that among new hires, nearly 80% experienced imposter syndrome since shifting to remote work, so it’s critical that new hires are set up for success from day one. Creating a new hire team communication channel, for example, creates a support system that works across the office and remotely. 

Hybrid settings can also make it hard to figure out social and communication norms, so make sure to review these with your new hires. 

You can also assign new staff an onboarding buddy to be available to answer any and all questions and provide workplace context. 

Create clear communication channels

Our data shows that 34% of employees find collaborating effectively is their biggest challenge. A big part of this is app overload, where work and communication is spread across too many tools. 

By consolidating applications, businesses can create a clear channel of communication where employees know they can find relevant updates and track what needs to be done.  

By having one source of truth, there’s also transparency over workloads and managers can make adjustments or check in with individuals as needed. 

Dare to be vulnerable by example

People will have trouble being open with you if you aren’t vulnerable and transparent with them too. This is especially important in group settings to create a trusted space for others to share information about themselves. 

By leading by example, you are showing someone that it’s OK to have hard conversations, and it’s part of your team culture to express that you’re struggling with your workload, for example. 

Share the things you have going on that impact how you show up to work and then encourage your team to share as well.