Op-ed: Hybrid work modes in the post-Covid era
By Crystal Wai, Managing Director, 5IVES Communications
At 5IVES Communications, we transitioned to a full work from home setting during lockdown before adopting a hybrid working model when the COVID situation stabilised in Hong Kong. Based on our team’s feedback, we found this to be the favoured working model and saw a significant increase in the team’s work efficiency.
On challenges faced during the transition to a hybrid working model
Dilution of team culture: I fervently believe that PR is a human industry. Team spirit and culture are extremely important in making campaigns a success. With a hybrid working model, there were risks that the company and team culture would become diluted as a result of the lack of in-person interactions on a daily basis.
Ensure seamless communications: PR practitioners are used to working long hours in the office, and we are also used to having face-to-face communications. In a hybrid mode, we need to ensure the level of communication remains seamless and aligned for those who are not in the office. As plans or clients’ briefs can literally change every day or every hour, it is therefore important to ensure the project team is all aligned on the goals and updates, no matter whether they’re working in the office or remotely.
On trust, efficiency and other benefits of a hybrid working model
The hybrid work mode has been fully recognised and embraced by our employees. They enjoy the benefits of working remotely, including the flexibility to work from anywhere and not having to commute to and from work. Apart from enhancing the team’s work-life balance, I think it is more about the TRUST between the team too. In our agency, every staff is entitled to participate in the hybrid work scheme, allowing them to opt to work from home for two weeks every month. This shows a high level of trust from the management team to the wider team.
I think our working team can see and feel the trust the leadership team has entrusted to them, which motivates them to perform even further. They are more willing to dedicate their time and utmost efforts to the projects and campaigns being assigned, and this has been reflected in the success we’ve achieved over the past year. For example, we won the Best PR Team of The Year (Gold) award in 2021 and are currently shortlisted as the only boutique agency in Hong Kong for the Boutique PR Consultancy of the Year (Hong Kong) in 2022 award. These industry accolades go a long way in proving that we have a great team contributing to our projects.
On tips and recommendations for adopting a hybrid working model
To maintain and nurture the team culture online and offline. Since the team works in a hybrid working mode, we engage them in different ways to maintain the team spirit. For example, we frequently organise various online training sessions for them - from industry knowledge sharing to personal wellness. The team is able to get together virtually in order to learn and grow together. We also organise team reunion activities and team building exercises from time to time, since physical activities help nurture good working relationships, which we believe are necessary for productive work.
Be transparent and align in communication channels. I recommend offices that are planning to implement hybrid working to develop a communication procedure with streamlined communication platforms to ensure a clear and effective communication flow. It is very important that those who work remotely do not feel like they’re being left out or missed. I would also suggest that the team makes good use of video chat for their communication, as this is a very “personal” way to chat and engage with one another when working offsite.