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

Since being free of the pandemic’s grip, there has been a noticeable change in our approach to many things – including how we do our jobs.

Remote working introduced us to a range of new day-to-day experiences, some of which challenged working practices we had regarded as ‘normal’ for decades. I like to call these ‘lockdown legacy behaviors’ which I think will become standard as part of the new normal:

1. Being ‘On Time’ Actually Means Being On Time

In the pre-pandemic days, everyone knew that a meeting that was scheduled to start at a given time would not get going properly until about 10 minutes later. Stragglers would trickle in, hands filled with coffee cups, finishing the last dregs of a passing conversation. This was without the mandatory exchange of ‘hellos’ and ‘how are yous’ once inside the meeting room.

Nowadays, however, being ‘fashionably late’ is no longer in fashion. With the sudden shift to a remote working style over lockdown, the opportunities for being distracted or getting caught in traffic suddenly faded. People were ready to go on-the-dot, and for those logging on late, they would feel the need to apologise for not being there on time.

2. Desk Bombing

The repertoire of office catchphrases has recently extended by one – ‘desk bombing’. This is in reference to a worker who approaches someone at their desk without warning and begins speaking with them.

In pre-Covid office life, this was completely normal and acceptable. We had no designated phrase for describing this act because it was just part of being at work. Grabbing someone for a quick chat and embarking into a five-minute unofficial meeting was considered a legitimate way of getting stuff done.

Now, after months of solitary working, a new culture has developed where it has become strange, and almost inconsiderate, to disturb your colleagues.

3. The Non-Linear Workday

Probably the most powerful legacy of lockdown is the rise of the non-linear workday. Flexibility has become the new normal of corporate life, with remote and hybrid working making it so that people can plan work around their personal lives, rather than the other way around.

Working from home has recalibrated employers to put employee wellbeing at its forefront – and this model looks as if it will not be going anywhere anytime soon. 40% of global workers even said that flexibility was a top motivator in whether they would stay in a role, according to McKinsey.

What comes next is learning to adapt to these legacies. Meeting the ever-changing needs of the workforce can seem challenging, but by being able to respond to these new practices quickly and effectively, your company will be able to tailor its attraction and retention strategies. This will help it gain access to the widest talent pool, as well as retain that newfound talent.

For a detailed understanding and guidance of workforce insights, you can get in touch with us here or with me directly at andy@orgshakers.com

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

Remote work seems to be here to stay. And if that is the case, then so are the burgeoning social challenges that accompany it.

As it stands, around 14% of UK workers are exclusively remote, with nearly double that proportion in the US at 26%. And what seems to be emerging is a growing sense of loneliness and isolation amongst these workers, as well as a significant lack of social interaction.

A survey by Statista found that after at-home distractions, a lack of social interaction with colleagues and feeling isolated/lonely were tied as the second highest challenge of remote work, with 35% of respondents citing either as their main struggle.

If you delve deeper, it also becomes apparent that these issues are affecting younger workers more severely. Chargifi did a study across the UK and the US and found that 81% of those aged under 35 would feel more isolated without time in the office, and 70% of them fear missing out on opportunities to socialise if remote work becomes the permanent norm.

If the new normal is remote work, then this requires organizations to push the boundaries of what that really means and help employees find innovative ways to solve these feelings of isolation.

Here are some creative ways employers can encourage their remote workers to get the social interaction they need:

  • Public Outdoor Spaces

This is a weather-dependant option, but it is well known that getting some fresh air has many physical and mental health benefits, including giving your brain more energy and making your thinking sharper. Public parks, gardens and beaches are all lovely days out, but there’s no reason why someone can’t set up their laptop and work surrounded by like-minded nature lovers and the sound soothing waves and beautiful blooms.

  • Pubs/Bars/Cafes  

This is one of the most popular options. There is always a lively ambience in a pub or café, and many people find working in these environments much more mentally stimulating. This is largely due to the psychological effect known as social facilitation, in which a person’s performance will improve due to being in the presence of other people. For UK employers, encouraging your remote workers to set up shop in a Wetherspoons could benefit them financially, as the chain offers free refills on tea and coffee all day, and will help ease the effects of cost of living by saving on electricity usage.

  • Airports/Train Stations

A slightly unconventional place, but perfect when looking at the social facilitation effect mentioned above. The hustling and bustling of people can actually help, with ‘background noise’ known to improve cognitive function and focus. And the constant sea of new faces can reduce an individual’s feelings of isolation.

  • Fast Food Restaurants

Across both the UK and the US, the beauty of fast-food restaurants during typical working hours are that they tend not to be too loud, they offer free WiFi, and have affordable lunch options. Whether it is burgers, tacos, or fried chicken, being in an environment with other people can make someone feel less alone.

  • Coworking Spaces

Coworking spaces are becoming an increasingly popular option for companies that are fully remote. These comprise of office spaces that can be rented, where your staff will work alongside remote workers from other organizations and have the opportunity to interact and build relationships. It allows for the ‘office feel’ without having to actually rent an entire office block, so it is cost effective and will likely increase the wellbeing of your workers. Alternatively, encouraging employees to set up remote working hubs with friends who also work remotely allows for them to create small, sub-cultures at work where they are surrounded by friendly faces and can stimulate their socialising needs.

Remote work can very easily become lonely, and if employers are adept in responding to this then they can continue to reap the financial and wellness benefits it has to offer. As a company that operates fully remotely, we are experts in offering in-depth guidance on how to mitigate the challenges that remote work can bring, so for strategic guidance on this topic, you can get in touch with us here.

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

The mass adoption of remote and hybrid working has brought with it concerns around a loss of company culture, a lack of social cohesion and struggles with onboarding. What seems to be emerging as the golden solution to these problems is the metaverse – the virtual reality (VR) space which allows users to interact with each other’s avatars in a digitalised office from the comfort of their home.

However, there are still many HR-related concerns surrounding the metaverse, and one such issue is virtual presenteeism.  

The belief that managers and executives will subconsciously favour those they see in the office every day from morning until evening – even if these people are not being productive – is not a new one. And it is rooted in two psychological phenomena; the first being the ‘mere-exposure effect’, which states that the more one person is exposed to someone, the more they start to grow an affinity towards them. This is strengthened by the second, the ‘halo effect’, in which if a manager gets along with a colleague and considers them a nice person, they will also assume they are a good worker.

However, even though simply being present has no demonstrable correlation with the quality of an individual’s output and their overall productivity, a survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development found that 83% of people had observed presenteeism in their workplace.

Now, flashforward to the rise of remote working. Suddenly no one is in an office, and no one is in the eyeline of management without inviting them to a specific video call. By being forced inside, employers could only judge the productivity of their staff based on what they were outputting each day, and this helped significantly reduce the presenteeism ideology.

Until the metaverse comes along.

There is no set science on how much interaction employees can and should be having with the metaverse. As it stands, the most likely approach to it will be a new hybrid model – working partly inside the digital space as an avatar and working from home outside of it in the ‘real world’. But this presents an interesting issue – will presenteeism return in the form of a virtual, avatar-based counterpart?

Naturally, there are going to be some hesitations surrounding the metaverse. A study commissioned by ExpressVPN found that employees reported feeling higher levels of anxiety, suspicion, and confusion about the new digital space. This hesitancy stems from a variety of factors, and one of the most popular is the increased opportunity for surveillance, which in turn can lead to employees feeling like there is a lack of trust being placed in them. This is coupled with general health concerns, as using VR too much can lead to increased anxiety, depression and ‘brain drain’.

So, it would not be a leap to assume that some will be reluctant to interact with the metaverse daily, and yet will this mean that those who opt to use the metaverse less will be at risk of losing out on promotional opportunities? The space allows for the recreation of the office setting in a virtual world, so those logged into it can once again be seen and interact with their superiors on a more regular basis, which may see a return to the pre-pandemic ways of presenteeism.

And with a global study by Cienna finding 40% of businesses thinking they will move to more immersive and VR-based environments in the next two years, identifying this rise of digital proximity bias now can allow employers to start working with their HR teams to figure out how to approach this problem at its root.

That’s where we can help. The metaverse is quickly gaining popularity in the working world and is making its way towards ‘new normal’ status. If you would like guidance on how to start preparing and navigating this digital world, you can contact us here.

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

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