Want to know how neuroinclusion training can help you optimize your remote team(s)? Read on…
Remote work, of course, wasn’t spawned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Many organizations have been offering remote or hybrid work options for some time, while some job applicants were marketing themselves as “fully remote” job candidates before 2020.
However, the last few years have seen a huge acceleration in that trend, catalysed by the pandemic, to the point that hybrid teams are now the norm in many organizations. Which means optimizing these teams – ensuring the best possible output, while making people feel supported and valued – has become a or perhaps even the management priority of the 2020s, and a huge priority of HR teams too.
At Uptimize, as our customers begin to engage with our neuroinclusion training solutions, hybrid work is a topic that continues to come up.
With the rise in interest and awareness around neurodiversity at work, it’s become increasingly clear even to people who are relatively new to the topic that recognizing any team is made up of different brains – people who literally experience the world and their day to day work differently – is essential when looking to optimize its well-being, collaboration and productivity.
But how does this work in practice? As we’ll see from the list of tactics we have assembled below, it starts with not making assumptions – remember, everybody is different!
Don’t Make Assumptions
It’s easy to fall prey to stereotypes here, even when you have the best of intentions. For example, that autistic people will always prefer remote work, given the potential it offers to manage one’s own sensory experience. ADHDers, according to another stereotype, will naturally hate working from home – and will be desperate for the stimulation of the office and direct personal contact. These may of course be true in some instances, but in many – they aren’t. For example, one autistic interviewee in an Uptimize focus group in his 20s – someone who describes himself as highly social – explained how much he hated being fully remote, and how he values more regular connections with colleagues both professionally and socially. The reality of course is that individual preferences here have multiple factors, such as distance, working from home setup, and family realities, of which a person’s brain wiring is a major but not the only element. So – remember everybody is different, and avoid making assumptions.
Flexibility is key
Given the above, flexibility is key. People may have complex but often strong preferences here, and these can also change over time as other factors are introduced or removed. What is consistent, though, is that the more flexibility you can offer, the more chance of someone finding the right niche for them at any given moment. And where you are NOT offering flexibility – always pause and ask “why?” – and question if rigid rules are worth the payoff. Remember, maximum flexibility is always likely to be appreciated.
Ensure Everybody Has Access to Neuroinclusion Training
The active appreciation that people don’t all think alike – we call this neuroinclusion – is essential when looking to optimize your hybrid teams. People’s brain wiring influences their sensory experience, and how they choose to communicate and problem-solve, and all this shapes individual preferences, inclinations or challenges that relate to hybrid work elements like video calls or remote meetings. At Uptimize, we offer neuroinclusion training solutions for managers, HR and other roles that introduce what we can call a “neuroinclusive lens” – considering work from the perspective that everybody thinks differently – and this neuroinclusion training brings insights, tactics and tools that can be used to help a fully or partially-remote team operate to its greatest potential. Neuroinclusion training covers topics such as…
Considering Communication Channels
Your preferences when it comes to work communication are not the same as others’. The same thing goes for any manager or colleague. So, it’s important to discuss (and encourage people to discuss) these preferences, noting that this doesn’t ever require what is known as “disclosure” (i.e. the sharing of neuroidentities). Instead, share your own preferences, and work with your team members to dind the channels that they work best with, in different contexts. If individual team members struggle with the main channels used by the team for any reason, consider either using different channels across the board or finding specific solutions for that colleague that suit them better.
Ensuring Clear Communication Across the Board
Clarity of communication is even more critical when interactions are reduced, as is typical in the remote model. So, make sure deadlines and work expectations are clearly communicated – and check with team members that they are clear on these, as another safeguard. When it comes to giving instructions, per the point above, remember that people have different communication preferences in how they receive information, so don’t just assume your preferred method of giving information works for everybody. In a project context, ensure team documents are clear and accessible, and formatted for maximum legibility.
Considering Collaboration Options
Not everybody is going to be at their best in the fast moving, verbal communication setting of a virtual team meeting. Ensure everybody has time to contribute – and offering other ways to contribute can be important too. If you’re a manager or colleague working directly with a co-worker on a project, assuming they want to just “jump on a call” to work through key issues may be problematic – if you’re a verbal thinker, this may work for you, but others may prefer to process information and strategize in a different context. Again, the more flexibility you can offer, the better.
Managing Change Sensitively
Change can be disruptive for everybody – and especially if it relates to people’s core work arrangements. Try to give notice ahead of time and support people into new routines as needed.
Regular well-being Check-ins
Whether people are remote or in the office, well-being is a key responsibility of a manager – and a key priority of HR. Managers should have time in 1:1s to inquire about and support individual well-being – while regular, open team forums can also help surface and remove issues relating to employee experiences within the hybrid team context.
Want to know more about what neuroinclusion training covers, and how it can bring value to your business? Download our free eBook introduction to the topic of neurodiversity at work here.
Ed Thompson is the CEO and founder of Uptimize – a unique corporate training platform that helps organizations attract, hire and retain talent that thinks differently. Uptimize works globally with organizations like Salesforce, JPMorgan Chase, Deloitte and IBM, building robust and impactful neurodiversity at work programs. Ed has also become a frequent speaker on the topic of neurodiversity in the workplace. His book, A Hidden Force, is available now.