With the pandemic altering the fundamental structure of work, many employers have been wading through several stages of grief as they realize there is no “returning to normal” and remote/hybrid working models are here to stay. As we venture into a new year – three years after the pandemic began – employers appear to be entering the final stage of grief: acceptance. And this ‘acceptance’ can help organizations thrive with the introducing of a Chief Remote Officer (CRO).

According to the State of Remote Work Report 2022, 60% of employers in the US require staff to work remotely or in a hybrid capacity.  Now is the time for employers to embed remote work into their foundations and use it as an organizational tool. Employers who are intentional about remote working strategies will be able to build, innovate, and leverage their benefits, and this means clearly establishing how remote work will fit into your company and its culture.

This is where a CRO proves incredibly valuable; having an executive leader dedicated to optimizing remote and hybrid workers ensures a business can create and accelerate opportunity. The CRO finds ways of leveraging remote work in a healthy, productive, and profitable way for employers and employees alike.

They also design policies and programs that remove an individual’s work location as a critical factor for success. With McKinsey finding over 90 million American workers now working remotely or in a hybrid setting, the need for a specialized executive to coordinate and care for this aspect of work has become even more necessary.

Many more responsibilities fall under a CRO – establishing the most effective communication protocols, exchanging and gaining access to shared data, maintaining the organization’s culture, and repurposing the workplace to meet today’s business and workforce needs. Expanding the C-suite to include this new role reflects how many companies’ dynamics have evolved since COVID. Employee needs have changed – people value their time, recognize its importance, and are largely in favor of a remote working lifestyle.

Establishing a role like the CRO allows an organization to move away from being constantly reactive to remote and hybrid work. It is a proactive approach to meeting today’s business and workforce needs. Now is the time to begin looking at how you can best leverage this organizational tool – whether that be from an economic perspective, a people strategy perspective, or to further your environmental, social, and governance agenda. To discuss this topic further, please get in touch with me at amanda@orgshakers.com

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

Recently, Meta founder Mark Zuckerberg laid off more than 11,000 employees due to a drop in profits, and this saw shares in the company sink by almost 20%. This is all without mentioning the anonymous reviews being left by former Meta employees on Blind – with one of them claiming that “the metaverse will be our slow death”. Suddenly, after months of being told that the metaverse is going to be the next step in the working world, people have begun to question this sentiment.

The metaverse is being marketed as the saving grace of hybrid, remote and global working. A digital space where users can interact with a face-to-face element from the comfort of their homes, allowing for company culture to remain intact, as well as revitalizing the ability to socialise with colleagues. It’s great on paper – but the whole point of the metaverse is its paperless allure.

Which brings me to the question – do we actually need it? Aside from the new wave of HR-related issues that would have to be navigated, seeing the sudden drop in its financial potential has spotlighted the fact that the metaverse may be a solution looking for a problem.

When we look deeper into what it is offering, it is presenting itself as the next step after Zoom and Teams, but is it more of just a sidestep? Video calling allows for face-to-face communication and global communication with ease, and now, after lockdown, most people have been trained and come to terms with the ins and outs of remote work. Introducing the metaverse into the workplace – which does the same thing but sounds cooler – could bring on more confusion than it’s worth. It would require an entire new set of training for colleagues to understand how to use the virtual reality headsets, as well as the purchasing of said equipment.

And while avatars are meant to make interaction in the metaverse more personable, will they be able to capture the non-verbal cues that are just as telling as someone’s verbal communications? Or will it require employees to become fluent in Cybernese, the emerging non-verbal language of the digital world? On Zoom, we can still see facial expressions and, to a degree, examine body language, but would this be the case with an avatar that is mimicking your behavior, or would it require a new set of knowledge entirely?

There is obvious attraction for a digital world – and the strides that could be taken in more hands-on jobs (such as mechanical engineering and biomedicine) could be life-changing for the future. But in terms of office jobs, it may be pulling at the wrong lever. A recent poll that OrgShakers conducted seemingly confirms this, as 50% of respondents did not want to use the metaverse, 22% didn’t know what it was, and no one said they were excited about it.

And with products like Sneek – which allows remote workers to see their fellow colleagues as they work and jump into instant video chats with them – the concerns that hybrid work has brought are already being solved without the need to venture into a digital landscape.

As it stands, the metaverse’s integration into corporate life could go either way – but while up to this point I had been viewing it as a huge step forward in the way we work, I am now beginning to think that we all might be blinded by its hype.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

If you are thinking ‘what on earth is Cybernese?’ you may be surprised to discover that it is a rapidly evolving language that we all need to become fluent in – fast. Because Cybernese is the non-verbal, online language we have all begun to adopt since the mass exodus from the office to remote and hybrid work.

In the physical world, the idea that body language, facial expressions, and tone of voice can communicate as much as the actual words coming out of your mouth is a familiar one. So, being able to ‘read’ people is an important skill which can give us valuable insights into what they actually think and feel about something (or someone).

With more and more interaction happening online, we are now having to interpret a whole new set of non-verbal signals – Cybernese.

For example, services like Zoom and Teams have become an integral part to working from home. And whilst now it is more difficult to decipher body language from just a person’s head and shoulders, there are other aspects of non-verbal Zoom etiquette which convey a whole new set of different meanings – intentional or otherwise.

Do you attend meetings with your camera off? A recent study found that 92% of US executives believed that employees who had their cameras off probably did not have a long-term future at their organization.

And what about the background you use when on a video call? What does it imply about you and the kind of worker you are?

It is no surprise that those who are already somewhat fluent in ‘Cybernese’ are Gen Z workers – they are digital-natives with an almost intuitive understanding of the internet and social media. Research shows that 98% of Gen Z own a smartphone, and almost all of them use social media in some form.  For younger workers, myself included, understanding all the non-verbal nuances in the digital world is something that we just know how to do – partly because we were the ones who invented them!

Take the emoji for instance. Originally conceived as icons to help add expressions to your text messages, many emojis now hold hidden meanings that are much less obvious to those who have not grown up using them. If your manager is sending you an eggplant emoji to tell you they are having a veggie parmigiana for dinner, this may not quite come across as intended…

Pre-pandemic, ‘Cybernese’ existed primarily as a means for young people to communicate amongst themselves without the older generation understanding what was being said. This is not a new idea; in the Victorian era flowers were used to send silent messages, with different flowers holding different meanings. Similarly, in 1970s New York, many gay men would use a handkerchief code to signal to each other. So, having a hidden, non-verbal language is not a new phenomenon – but what is new is the sudden need for this language to be understood by almost everyone in order to avoid any potential mishaps.

‘Cybernese’ could open a potential communication gap between staff – especially those from different generations – and so introducing a new set of training for digital non-verbal cues would be a great way to ensure that employers and employees alike know exactly how to market themselves. And with Gen Z steadily flowing into the workforce, as well as remote and hybrid working becoming more and more popular, now is the perfect time to seize this opportunity.

To get in touch with us and discuss this topic further, head over to our contact page.

Copyright OrgShakers: The global HR consultancy for workplace transformation founded by David Fairhurst in 2020

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