Rebuilding Teams in the Hybrid Workplace to Enable the ‘New Better’

The workplace has been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. To discuss how business leaders can respond to the new reality, OnFrontiers brought the experts Anil Saxena and Darron Padilla to share their experiences in the webinar Building Your Team Back Better. The session was moderated by OnFrontiers Advisor, technology executive, entrepreneur, and go-to-market expert Joel Passen.

The webinar started with Anil stressing the need for companies to promote ‘intentional connections’ within their teams to really boost collaboration. Leaders should not overlook intentionality when establishing a connection between two people in a world where connections happen at such an uncontrollable pace. Meaningful connections demand intentionality. This insight is backed by his experience as a Partner Enablement Strategist for ServiceNow, where he is responsible for helping companies make sure that teams have the right balance between background, skills, and synchrony to succeed over the long haul. He has been working remotely for the past decade and, in fact, as well as everyone at ServiceNow at this time. Addressing the importance to discuss how teams are formed in the hybrid workplace, Anil says:

“I think this conversation about how do we really enable and optimize the world of work as it stands right now is a powerful one. And one that is very, very timely as we’re slowly but surely trying to reopen the world and go back to some semblance of a normal environment.”

Darron is the Managing Consultant at Odyssey Consulting Group, where the focus is specifically helping organizations improve performance through people-focused strategies. In his initial statement, Darron says, “People are humans, not simply numbers. And it is the people who get the work done.” Surprisingly to many business managers, productivity has actually risen during the last year and a half—maybe people don’t need to be micromanaged after all! Managers have to understand how they connect to people so they can improve their performance through any sort of processes, procedures, or really the culture within the organization. The rise in performance may have been a surprise to most managers, but not for Darron. After all, a productive team requires an appropriate system and culture, among other things, and not really bricks, carpets, and a nice view.

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Our Panelists Share Their Observations and Insights About Collaboration

In response to Joel’s question, “How’s collaboration optimized in these hybrid workplaces?” Anil first took a step back to observe that the term hybrid workplace could refer to any number of arrangements. In the current state of work, it means that people are working in several different places and spaces all at the same time, which emphasizes the need for collaboration so that everyone is on the same page. 

Anil continued by explaining how we really optimize how we’re getting work done in the time in which we are living and working. Anil stressed the need for creating “safe spaces” in which to work. An employee must feel comfortable enough to allow him or herself to be vulnerable, because in this day and age an employee is literally inviting his or her co-workers into his or her living room or study, into his or her personal space of necessity.  This sense of safety must extend to the office, if and when employees return to that space.  The sense of safety allows for greater collaboration and intimacy.

Anil elaborated on the technological advances in networking that have come about as a result of working remotely. He stressed the importance of ensuring employees have access to the collaborative tools they need. “I think it’s important that those two things are really kind of collaborating together, being able to create that safe workspace and being able to make sure that you’re addressing the analog challenges that we have in this new world of work. And the digital challenges that we have in the new world of work.”

Darron continued with this train of thought:

“ I think when we talk about safety, it’s really psychological safety. How do people feel safe in a new way? How is hybrid collaboration optimizing workplaces? We’re now talking about how many digital tools do we have to collaborate with during the kind of the new working environment. It seems to go a little faster than before”.

The lack of time boundaries for such collaboration can pose a dilemma, so we have to give each other grace because we are inviting others into our own environment. That’s another place where psychological safety comes into play.

It may be necessary for leaders to develop policies, procedures, guidelines, and/or rules of engagement about the use of collaborative programs to provide that sense of psychological safety to all team members.  Anil chimed in on this point, “But it’s really important that we think about this sort of new better way of working, that we focus on this idea that leaders really need to set the tone. And so we have to help them understand what’s the culture that they want to create? How do they want to drive communication? How do they want to foster collaboration? And all of those things are exceptionally doable now with all of this great technology.”

Another team-building aspect that the new workplace has brought to the forefront is inviting new, knowledgeable, and highly qualified members to your team or at least referring to them for answers. The microcosm which is evolving in workspaces is actually a macrocosm because your team’s access to experts is only a click away. And if the expertise is unavailable within your organization, OnFrontiers is available to provide access to those in the know.

Access to expert knowledge and information has never been easier to obtain and sometimes it is right under your nose. Darron suggests identifying people’s strengths and highlighting their knowledge base during the onboarding process and then making that information available to co-workers through accessible, searchable employee profiles.

As we all adapt to the new norms, it is important to remain flexible and adaptable. It is also important to recognize and applaud each other for a job or task well done. Again, this is part of the grace we must extend to one another, especially during these trying times. By following these experts’ suggestions, you can not only re-build your teams but re-build better and stronger teams to propel your company into the future.

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