How can technology and leadership help us adapt to The Hybrid Now? 

Malene Amini

Malene Amini

Head of Marketing

Læsetid, 6 min.

Microsoft Denmark facilitates a network for HR Executives that we call “The Hybrid Now” meant to drive inspiration and collaboration on how we navigate the hybrid work evolution. The topic for our most recent meeting was hybrid leadership and supportive tools that empower organizations to run smoothly in a hybrid setup. 

We wanted to host this particular event in person as we had live-tech to show and touch, but with the Prime Minister announcing new restrictions just before, we turned the meeting truly hybrid instead. Walking the talk so to speak.  

The event thus became a meta-demonstration of the actual agenda of the meeting: How can technology and leadership help us adapt to The Hybrid Now? Here are some of the key takeaways: 

Tools are needed to support the transition to hybrid 

In most organizations, hybrid is already or is becoming the new standard – pandemic or not. Most employees want to keep their flexible workstyle and the advantages it brings, while also asking for more in-person connections. It’s a big disruption and there are many individual needs to navigate while building a strong culture around it. At the network meeting, we discussed fueling more interaction and human aspects into virtual and hybrid meetings, and we looked at some of the solutions on the market today – and some we here at Microsoft have planned to launch soon.  

  • Put your own video feed into your slides while you present: Already available in Teams today, you can insert yourself in an almost news-anchor-like way with Presenter Mode. Very soon we will offer even more options to bring in the person speaking into the material when we launch Cameo. For example, the presenter can be included live in her own slides. The participants experience it as if it were a TV show. This will make virtual and hybrid meetings much more engaging. 
  • Showcasing live-tech: Microsoft’s Surface Hub is a device built for hybrid collaboration. It combines hardware, software, and services in a flexible, dynamic package, bringing together whiteboarding and video conferencing and with Teams fully integrated. You can unplug it and roll it around with you – which we took full advantage of for the HR network meeting. Through the lens of the Surface Hub, our remote participants could get an interactive tour of our Microsoft Technology Center and be a part of the in-house experience.  
  • More interaction with polls and whiteboard: You can use a wide range of plugins for Teams, i.e. Whiteboard for brainstorm meetings or Polls for input from the meeting participants, all in all helping to enhance the degree of involvement and the visual element of the meetings. We made good use of this during the meeting. 
  • Automatic transcription of the whole meeting: As you probably know, you can record your meetings on Teams. But you also have the possibility to get Teams to transcribe your meeting. The transcript can then be automatically translated from i.e. English to Danish. This makes it much easier, to sum up after the meeting who said what and who was given which tasks. 

Participate as an avatar: Sounds like science fiction? It is very likely that you and your colleagues will all soon have a personal avatar that you use to attend meetings. It may seem silly to attend a meeting as a cartoon character of oneself, but this helps to create interaction and strengthen the feeling of togetherness in a meeting. The solution builds on Microsoft Mesh, and takes in our experience with Together Mode in teams that help reduce meeting fatigue, and with Mesh we hope to further reduce the cognitive overload of being in (too) many meetings all day. We’ll see this come to life in 2022 already, so it’s something many employees might want to adopt really fast. 

Woman looking at screen

Sofie S. Lovett, Head of People Advisory for HQ & Europe at A.P.Moller Maersk

Management tools in The Hybrid Now

There are numerous challenges that leaders face as a consequence of the new reality with hybrid work. Nearly 60% of staffers say they feel less connected to their team after shifting to remote work. 79% of CEOs worldwide are concerned about the lack of essential skills – but employees answer they are not given sufficient time for learning. Moving forward into a hybrid standard, the need for organizational insights will increase – as will the need to upskill more easily. 

What can you do to reinforce the leadership of your organization? We recommend that you as an HR executive give managers the opportunity to: 

  • Gain insight into the team: Viva Insights can nudge your employees to book focus time into the calendar, stay connected with colleagues, assess their mood, or reflect on what it takes to make them thrive better. In addition, Viva Insights gives the leader an opportunity to gather insights about her team at an aggregated level solely based on telemetry. It will for example be possible for a leader to spot developments in her team’s overall well-being and see if the team overall suddenly works significantly more than usual based on these telemetric patterns.  
  • Strengthen the competencies of the team: Many organizations believe upskilling is important, yet find it hard to prioritize for the organization. Viva Learning can intelligently compile relevant courses for you and your employees. It will also be possible for the leader to make her employees aware of specific courses that she sees as relevant to them, assign them, follow up and support – all while still working via Teams as all the Viva modules are an integrated part of the platform. 

“New ways of working require new ways of leading. When our work becomes virtual, our leadership too becomes virtual. My approach when thinking of hybrid and virtual leadership is: How can I continue to do what I did before? COVID pushed us all to think faster and keep innovating. We should not stop doing this. And the new reality should not affect the quality of our leadership.” 

– Sofie S. Lovett, Head of People Advisory for HQ & Europe at A.P.Moller Maersk

We are excited to discuss the future of work from an HR perspective in the coming network meetings, which in the hybrid spirit, of course, will be a combination of virtual meetings and meeting in person. Are you an HR executive – and maybe struggling with some of the same challenges in your organization? Reach out to CMO lead, Malene Amini on maamini@microsoft.com to get an invite for the next session. 

Read about the takeaways from the first meeting here – the three challenges that HR executives face in The Hybrid Now here.

Work Trend Index: 2021 Annual Report

The Next Great Disruption is Hybrid Work – Are We Ready? Exclusive research and expert insights into a year of work like no other reveal urgent trends for leaders as the next phase of work unfolds.

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