How to be ‘seen’ in a hybrid working environment

On behalf of the BCI Women in Resilience committee, Milena Maneva and Bethany Warren provide a summary from the discussions that took place at the most recent BCI Women in Resilience (WiR) event.

The Women in Resilience (WiR, #BCIWiR) group hosted their Summer Hybrid Event on 28th July 2022. This involved a panel discussion exploring the topic of ‘How to be ‘seen’ in a hybrid working environment – ​​Engage key stakeholders and excel your career ‘.

The keynote speech reflected on how much has changed in the past couple of years in regards to COVID-19 and acknowledged the pandemic as being the catalyst for change in how remote and hybrid work was perceived by businesses and employees.

We then recognized how we are seeing the power shifting to employees as personnel are demanding continuation of the flexibility within their jobs that they benefited from during the pandemic. We reflected on ‘the great resignation’ where employees are re-evaluating what they are looking for within the workplace. This was reinforced by McKinsey in a recent study that reported over half of their respondents wanted a more flexible hybrid model post pandemic and more than a quarter of those surveyed would consider switching employers if they returned to a fully on site requirement.

We introduced the concept of ‘proximity bias’ which represents the inequities in work between in-person and hybrid or fully remote employees as well as the impacts from this bias on the workplace, in that it can hurt employees who have historically been underrepresented, especially in skilled roles. A Mercer 2022 Global Trends Survey found that more women than men want to have the opportunity to have hybrid or remote work going forward. This may be for many reasons but some recent research shows that women are less likely to return to the office because of care responsibilities, have mixed feelings about inclusion, and are opting for flexible working more than their male peers.

This then begged the question that if women are not as physically present within the workplace, will this impact women’s progression in business and enhance the glass ceiling even more? Will it be a case of out of sight out of mind? We already know from this year’s global gender pay gap report that it will take another 132 years to close this gap. When we asked our WiR LinkedIn group what their new way of working was post pandemic, 92 percent said hybrid, so how can women be seen in a hybrid working environment, engage key stakeholders and excel in our careers?

The panel discussion

Pranathi Praveen introduced the panellists, moderated the session and directed questions towards the panellists, who were Monica Sekhri, Sarah Garrington, Esra Erbas, and Ruth Griffiths.

Questions included topics around:

  • Current working arrangements
  • Overview of what were the positives following the post-pandemic
  • Top tips for women trying to progress in their careers, especially in the post-pandemic working environment
  • Practical tips to remain seen in the workplace working remotely vs working from the office
  • How to engage with key stakeholders in a hybrid working
  • Discussion whether women had the same opportunities
  • How women can land opportunities/promotions
  • How to take charge of your career
  • Discussion about honesty at work
  • Open discussion: short stories/experience sharing

Some of the key themes, tips and responses that came out from the panel discussion were:

The preferred working arrangement in the post-pandemic world:

  • In the current ‘almost’ post-pandemic world the preference seems to be hybrid, wherein employees would like to have the flexibility of coming-in to the office twice or three-times a week but otherwise to work from home.
  • Working from home was difficult initially as the social connection with employees and friends at office was missing.

There were many positives noted in the new hybrid working world. These were:

  • Location agnostic.
  • The time saved from travel that can be used for many other productive activities. Especially for women who have to grapple with responsibilities at home too.
  • The work from home phase ‘humanised’ people – there was acceptability to pets and children in the background in ‘Zoom’ calls.

Some tips for ‘being seen’ while working from home:

  • Take every opportunity to be seen.
  • Meet key stakeholders face-to-face at every given opportunity.
  • Use every excuse to talk to colleagues, stakeholders, and engage more often.
  • Respond quickly to emails, even if it’s a holding response.
  • Try to spend some casual chat time with the team and value less formal time with colleagues in the office.
  • Value team building. One panellist mentioned they have a ‘Fri-yay’ devoted to these activities.

How to build your personal ‘brand’:

  • Don’t be shy while approaching people and striking conversations.
  • Network and build connections both in person and via LinkedIn.
  • Attend conferences, seminars, and meet more people from the fraternity.
  • Take part in industry working groups.
  • Be honest and open in all communication.
  • Most importantly be yourself.

Building relationships:

  • Start a meeting with something personal, eg, something remembered from the previous meeting about the other person’s personal life.
  • Ask your team when they are going to be in the office and plan your days accordingly.

How to take charge of your career:

  • Take the lead in projects.
  • Step outside your comfort zone and become comfortable with failure.
  • Keep learning.
  • Believe in ‘mentorship’ (do not restrict yourself to one mentor. Have one for different areas of your work / life / interests).
  • Be on the lookout for suitable opportunities, within and outside your organization.

How to get outside of your comfort zone?

  • Take one step at a time and slowly push the boundaries.
  • Take courses.
  • Practice speaking out loud to get comfortable presenting.
  • If you are quiet, be comfortable with this. It is not always about being the loudest in the room. Being quiet does not mean ineffective.

Top tips for women to progress at work:

  • Be vocal.
  • Put yourself out there, know what you want and work for it.
  • Be responsive, open to change and work hard.
  • Keep learning, and don’t lose who you are.
  • Be positive.
  • Take opportunities and don’t wait for them to come to you

The Q&A was managed by Candice Croydona WiR Webinars Committee Member. Essential pointers from the Q&A were:

  • Address the gender pay gap.
  • Slowly push your boundaries.
  • Ask for your rights.
  • Focus on work-life balance for good mental health.
  • Focus on the quality of your work

Event highlights

We had fantastic engagement from the audience throughout the event and had some thought provoking questions from both the physical and virtual attendees on the topic. The event began and ended with a networking session for all those attending in person, where further discussions on the topic took place and stories were shared with drinks and appetizers in hand. The common theme from attendees was that it was great to return to in-person events post-COVID.

We would like to thank our wonderful speakers, our global WiR Committee, Kirstie Wise (BCI), and Sergio Gallego-Schmid (BCI). Also special thanks to our sponsor EY and our wonderful hosts from the Operational Resilience team Pranathi Praveen and Rhianna Grazier.

coming up

Join us at our future events and webinars. We hope to see you at the upcoming BCI World Hybrid 2022 taking place on 2nd and 3rd November – which will combine a physical event in London – with some keynote sessions live streamed virtually – accompanied by a 24-hour virtual conference.

We encourage all of you to connect with our Women in Resilience Group on LinkedIn.

If you would like to be a speaker, sponsor or host our future WiR events, contact Milena Maneva and Bethany Warren.

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