This past week, Scotwork hosted a C-suite roundtable discussion about dealmaking in 2021. Some really interesting themes came out of that conversation. (By the way, you can watch the webinar by clicking here.) The biggest one for me: While we all started the pandemic at nearly the same time, we will all recover from it at different times. That trailing effect will present new challenges and issues for all dealmakers, leaders, and C-suite executives alike.
One of the impacts that we discussed was that of the blended workforce. Let’s face it: If the extremes of the new workforce spectrum are everyone is in the office or everyone is virtual, then there will be plenty of workforces that fall somewhere in between. These blended workforces will challenge our traditional way of working.
As a longtime remote employee of many companies, I would be infuriated when there was an in-person meeting in a conference room and I was one of the only participants calling in. It was hard to hear, I would often be forgotten about, I couldn’t see facial expressions, etc. Basically, I was invisible. This is an obstacle that blended workforces will have to overcome.
Imagine negotiating a deal this way. Some people are together in a room while others are on the phone or a videoconference. If we return to our old habits before the pandemic, then it’s safe to assume that those who are together in the room will dominate the conversation. However, there’s an opportunity to take the lessons from the pandemic to help do this better.
One of the silver linings of the pandemic was going virtual. In a virtual environment, everyone has to listen a little more and allow room for other voices. For instance, it’s nearly impossible for more than two people to speak at the same time when on a videoconference. When that happens in a virtual environment, people typically stop speaking, one party giving the floor to another, and then taking turns to make sure that everyone gets their say.
In a blended work environment, we can take the lessons that we’ve learned and implement some new policies moving forward.
- Ensure a “camera on” policy. This is not just for everyone joining virtually, but also for those in the room. It’s important that everyone can be seen by everyone else participating in the conversation.
- Elect a moderator for the conversation. It’s too easy for in-person participants to drown out virtual participants. The moderator’s job is to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to be heard.
- Schedule office hours. While virtual, we all did a great job of scheduling virtual happy hours in order to stay connected. When people begin returning to the office, schedule office hours instead. Open up both a videoconference line and the office door during a period of time when anyone can “drop by” to chat, in person or virtually. (You can even bring in a water cooler if that will help with the vibe.)
- “All or reschedule” policy. For a more important conversation or when having a blended conversation just won’t work, have everyone be virtual or reschedule to a time when it can be held virtually. This will ensure that meeting modality doesn’t get in the way of the conversation.
- Out of sight, not out of mind. While virtual, we all had to be more mindful about staying connected with each other. In a blended workforce, certain segments can easily be forgotten about. So don’t let those who are out of sight also become out of mind. Continue to be mindful about staying connected with everyone, not just those who are virtual.
All of us who participated in the roundtable discussion were excited about the possibility of returning to some semblance of normalcy this year. We also recognized that things will never be what they were — that we’ve experienced a sea change and blended workforces are something that we’ll all have to learn to work with. But with a little mindfulness, we can make this new normal even better than the old one.
We Can Help You Negotiate in a Blended Work Environment.
Are you anticipating the challenges of doing deals in a post-pandemic blended work environment, in which some people are seated at the negotiating table while others are on the phone or a videoconference? We can help! Drawing on 45 years of real-world negotiating experience, we’ll assist you with getting better deals, saving time, and creating value for all involved — not to mention preserving and even strengthening relationships. Let us partner you with one of our advisers, ensuring that you’ve got the broadest view of your deal.