While back to office is at its peak, FOMO may haunt remote workers

An industry story featuring Rajiv Naithani, which appeared in ETHRWorld on 29 April 2022. Follow this link to read the original article.

Employees are FOMO-ing in the hybrid work environment as remote workers often fear missing out on one-on-one meetings, watercooler chats, tea break gossip sessions and post-work latte schedules. In layman's terms, in the hybrid work culture, where few employees are working from home and the rest are working from the office, a sense of insecurity or FOMO among the employees who are working from home are not able to involve themselves in a physical office environment takes birth.

Last Monday, there was a discussion at the ETHRWorld newsroom regarding the raging GEN Z slang – FOMO-that has been able to successfully instil doubts amongst remote workers. There were several what ifs – “What if my boss offers a better appraisal to him? He meets him regularly”, “What if she gets a promotion and my efforts aren’t recognised”, “What if we miss out on the new boss ‘gossips sessions” – that cropped up during a discussion (rather debate).

We concluded that there has been a drastic change in the way we work. Hence, change in mindset will require time. While some might have adjusted to the phenomena, some are struggling to gel well and find new ways for hasty watercooler chats.

In simpler terms, first, let’s see hoe the hybrid model works. Rajiv Naithani, Chief People Office, Infogain explains better:

In a hybris sector, some employee will work from home all the time because they don’t live in the city where their payroll office is and some employees will work from home a few days a week and work from the office the rest of the time, and there will be a third group of employees who work from the office most of the time. When any organisation uses such a model, it becomes clear that this working model will cause problem for employees and teams when they try to work together and connect. People who meet face to face will be able to connect and work together better than people who connect through online platforms.

However, Naithani firmly believes that this would not affect the overall performance and productivity of the people and the team. It is also a fact that those who meet face to face have a better chance of taking advantage of collaboration and connection than those who works from home. It could mean that people who work from home might not be able to join in on the corridor and watercooler conversations, and they might lose some informal yet important information. “ But that should not make individuals feel insecure or worried about missing out on things. Organisational culture will play a big part in bridging this gap by making it psychologically safe to work there. Managers and their teams would need to be made aware of house inclusive they are and other things that will help them work together and connect in a hybrid work environment,” Naithani adds.

Where managers me give a better hike to those working from home

Expert says the feeling of FOMO cannot be disregarded by the managers and physical presence can't be measured to decide on reward and recognition. however, both working styles cannot replace

each other. in order to maintain the smooth operation of the hybrid model, manager must be educated about the potential pitfalls, so that the companies culture is not jeopardised.

For instance, at Marico, the senior leadership choose to focus on members performance based on their outcomes rather than their physical presence in the office or the hours they log for the day.

“For us, it has always been quality over quantity,” says Amit Prakash, CHRO, Marico the company also undertook the regularly scheduled appraisal promotion cycle in 2020 and 2021, when the employees working remotely due to the pandemic.” all our members are equipped with robust technology and given equal opportunities. Therefore, a fair evaluation is done based on the individual performance. we believe in trusting our members to deliver the outcomes that they are responsible for empowering them to do so,” says Prakash.

To prevent the feeling of FOMO or workplace disconnect, Marico actively engages with its members to listen to them and holds discussion with smaller cohorts to understand and identify opportunities for improving engagement and productivity. this helps all employee as well as the leader to stay more involved and thus gives them sense of security even in hybrid mode of work, while also offsetting any fatigue or feeling offering disconnect amongst employees.

Anoora Singh, Head -HR (Training& Admin), Organic India, agrees with this. “the visibility of employees no doubt is better when they come to the office, this usually is not the only deciding factor for alignment of responsibilities. the deciding factor is essentially how soon and how effectively the tasks get done. I have also seen that most of us working from home tend to either get distracted or end up working much more-in both case is the work-life balance may become an issue,” Singh highlights.

However, however the fact that water cooler chats what the physical office environment is known for cannot be brushed under the carpet. The virtual office misses this part. in this regard, ETHRWorld also created videos under the theme “by the water cooler” and this was one of the major points that we discussed in our newsroom. those who are aware of the term may agree how even a hectic day could be toned down and increase the productivity by chatting near the office photo cooler.

And now with hybrid work, this quintessential office site is rarely seen. Hence the question, Can the fear of missing out hamper’s employees’ productivity in the hybrid work setup?

Where employees miss watercooler chat!

Captain Geeta Jadhav, Cluster Head -HR, Tata power renewable, says,” Maybe we did not have water cooler chats, but we indeed had million virtual productive conversation!”

However, there were few impediments when the company got used to the work from home culture. The team had to take few steps to help the employee in their new normal journey and remote working. the company introduced cloud technology- making data storage more affordable, Practical, secure and hassle free. Mobility initiative also launched where employees can work productivity as per their schedule. Making the routine of employees more engaging the company launched production studio technology - This technology let's employee package and deliver their work, such as collateral or internal presentations, in various exciting ways with tools like videos, podcast, infographic, etc.

“Workplace are changing rapidly. We are continuously exploring newer and innovative ways to engage with the employees. Restarted to engage more through virtual interaction like town halls, weekly meetings, and celebration with involvement of family as well,” Jadhav says.

the pandemic changes your attitude and practices, and virtual happy hours have replaced water cooler connection. Individuals have mastered the ability to continue similar conversations. and while in person conversation or meetings are more holistic since you can see or study the body language used during the chat, which is absent in a virtual setting, Naithani of Infogain please search variation will not always have determinal effect on performance and output.

“it is critical to establish the KRAs, goals and objectives objectively so that everyone understand their position with maximum clarity. Inclusions would be critical here, as would finding ways for the employees working virtually to connect with the teams regularly,” Naithani says.

So, how can managers be more considerate when it comes to hybrid work culture and look at their workforce equally?

Experts have the answer to this!

Where managers manage efficiently!

Export says manager must keep in mind the performance of the team member over the years and not take decision just based on the period of work where in the employees was working from home. And in case they see in a drop in performance, Singh of Organic India suggested that they must chat to identify the challenges and help the team members overcome the same. Managers must also plan the task allocation in such more thoughtful manner to ensure that everyone in the team feels productively occupied and challenged

For instance, like most companies, Marico has implemented monthly virtual catch up sessions to build relationship amongst member outside of the work to sustain the organizations collaborative spirit even in the remote and hybrid working paradigm.

“We found that, during the first 18-20 month of the pandemic, work productivity and efficiency went up almost 30 to 40% amongst our members while they worked remotely. Further with time our member engagement has also been consistently between 80 to 84%,” Prakash of Marico mentions.

Considering the work style is new, experts says that manager will require additional skills to manage efficiently. Naithani suggest being sensitive to individuals needs in hybrid environment, especially moving beyond the advantage of associating with a team that works in person rather than virtually, would aid in a smooth transition. Organizational culture, systems, and governance will contribute to enabling the majority of it.