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HCI Webinar: Building Intentional Community in Hybrid Work Settings, with Surabhi Lal

In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Surabhi Lal about building intentional community in hybrid work settings. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!


Watch the episode here:


Quick Recap


Surabhi and Jonathan discussed the advantages of co-locating for work and the importance of intentional design to ensure value for employees. They touched upon the hybrid work model and the potential of using in-person days to foster community and problem-solving. They also discussed the shift from traditional command and control leadership to a more coaching-focused approach, and the increasing reliance on technology and human interaction in the future of work.


Intentional Community in Hybrid Work


Surabhi and Jonathan discussed the advantages of co-locating for work, including cross-team meetings and problem-solving days. They stressed the need for intentional design to ensure value for employees. The discussion also touched upon the hybrid work model and the potential of using in-person days to foster community and problem-solving. Jonathan expressed frustration over the challenges of arbitrary office requirements in hybrid work settings. Towards the end of the meeting, Jonathan welcomed Surabhi to the conversation about building intentional community in hybrid work environments.


Creating Community in Hybrid Work Environments


Jonathan and Surabhi discussed the challenges of creating a sense of community in a hybrid or remote work environment. Jonathan emphasized the importance of tailoring work designs to suit different roles and functional areas, rather than implementing a one-size-fits-all approach. Surabhi suggested strategies such as providing incentives for employees to come into the office, like offering meals, to encourage socialization and community building. They also touched on the shift from traditional command and control leadership to a more coaching-focused approach, and the increasing reliance on technology and human interaction in the future of work.


Work Culture and Employee Value


Jonathan and Surabhi discussed the importance of fostering a positive work culture. They emphasized that a culture doesn't emerge automatically, but requires intentional efforts to promote a healthy and inclusive environment. They also touched upon the issue of exploitation in work settings and the need to adopt more holistic and healthy approaches towards work. They suggested ways to build community and connections, even in remote or hybrid work settings, to promote a sense of belonging among employees. The conversation also highlighted the need to value employees as humans and the potential impact of this approach on attracting and retaining top talent.


Enhancing Workplace Relationships


Surabhi highlighted the importance of fostering a sense of belonging and connection among coworkers. She emphasized that workplaces need to be attractive to potential employees and effective at retaining talented staff. Surabhi suggested that creating social activities, such as sharing favorite treats, could improve workplace relationships and boost employee morale. She also pointed out the potential for forming lasting friendships at work, even in virtual settings. Jonathan agreed, noting that trust is difficult to establish when workers are isolated.


Work Flexibility and Community Trust


Surabhi and Jonathan discussed the benefits of community and belonging in a hybrid and remote work setting. They emphasized the importance of creating an environment of trust and understanding, especially in a virtual setting. They highlighted the need for an intentional strategy to manage different perspectives and experiences, and not to forget the lessons learned during the pandemic. They concluded that despite having more flexibility in work models, there are still benefits to each and the need for a strategic approach.


Creating a Culture of Belonging in the Workplace


Jonathan and Surabhi discussed the importance of creating a culture of belonging and community within the workplace. Jonathan emphasized the positive impacts of such a culture on employee productivity, creativity, and retention. Surabhi stressed the importance of leaders maintaining one-on-one meetings with their team members to foster connection and build trust. They concluded by suggesting that community building in the workplace is crucial for creating a positive organizational culture and contributing to employees' overall well-being.


Creating a Culture of Belonging in Hybrid Workplaces


Jonathan expressed his enthusiasm for creating a culture of belonging in the workplace and encouraged the audience to explore how they can contribute. He highlighted the significant increase in remote and hybrid work since the pandemic, noting that many have come to appreciate the benefits of these working arrangements. Surabhi agreed with Jonathan's sentiments about the importance of structure in hybrid work.


Listen to the webinar here:




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