Finding and Onboarding Talent in a Hybrid World

Helping you attract and on-board new team members while working remotely.

By T. Smitten

It is safe to say we’ve all just had a year of unprecedented change. The who, what, why and where we work has changed for so many of us across the globe. The changes we’ve seen, moving away from the traditional workplace also translate to changes in the hiring and onboarding processes

The nature of workplace roles, expectations and responsibilities has changed for both employers and their team members. Employers and staff are finding an increased need for agility, understanding, flexibility and adaptability from each other. The location of the office has moved into virtual home-based spaces or hybrid work environments.

Companies today may also select candidates who are more tech savvy and self-starters over another candidate that they may have traditionally chosen for a role. This is simply based on the fact the individual will be working in a virtual work environment.

Every business, organization, recruiter, and job seeker has had to find new and creative new ways of connecting “in-person”. ET Group’s HR Generalist Mark Bystrek is all too familiar with this new world. Luckily, he and the ET Group team have had nearly a decade of practice interviewing, hiring, onboarding, and fostering the growth of new team members remotely. Mark recommends that every Human Resources professional should be aware of the creative tools and technology solutions available to them for recruitment, interviewing, assessment, and on-boarding

Finding the Right Talent

When searching for the right team member ET Group has relied on the instinct of the company CEO and talent attractor Dirk Propfe.  “Dirk has done a great job going with different sources, like using head-hunters, referrals from people like from employees and using like minded organizations that can attract talent,” says Mark. But when it comes to finding talent, somethings have stayed the same. Using a talent recruitment agency, a head-hunter, or posting a job on your company or a job posting website still works today. Even colleague referrals can still get talent connected to the right role.

Linkedin is a powerful tool to find and attract individuals to join your team. Promoting your virtual culture on this platform is a great strategy to attract top talent that want a company that thrives in a flexible environment.

Interviewing Remote Candidates

Hiring can seem tricky when meeting in-person is not an option. Like many organizations, ET Group uses video conference platforms to hold “in-person” interviews. The interviews are conducted with various team members across the organization. Online interviews make scheduling easier for both the hiring committee and the potential candidate. ET Group also offers candidates the opportunity to partake in online personality assessments to help identify their strengths and, compatibility for the role. The candidates are invited to share their personality assessments and skills tests with the hiring team. Offering online self assessment tools allows both the individual and the organization to gain further insight into an individual’s spirit and suitability for a role. Both you and the candidate will learn more about each other.

How to Onboard New Talent

ET Group not only has a method for hiring remotely but the team has found creative ways to foster new talent outside of the traditional training methods. Once hired, Mark has a four-step approach to onboarding and fostering the growth of a new hire. Mark says:

1. Invite them into the “office” 

Traditionally new hires would be invited to the office to pick up equipment, take a tour of the office and meet a few team members in person. In the ET Group virtual office, new team members are mailed their equipment, they are provided a virtual tour of the physical office space and are introduced to the company via a WebEx channel post. The post allows for team members company wide to welcome and engage the new hire in discussion.

2. Provide them with a Onboarding Buddy

Mark will provide new hires with an onboarding buddy for the first three months of work. The onboarding buddy is assigned to help provide context, set expectations, and give a deeper understanding of the role. The onboarding buddy can also help foster working relationships between colleagues, helping to integrate new talent into the organization.

3. Prioritize Video Meetings

Mark will arrange a series of brief one-to-one video conference intro sessions so new hires can become acquainted with the larger team. Mark creates a schedule of videoconference meetings for the new team member to meet with various roles within the company. This also helps to build relationships between team members and reinforces the understanding of business operations.

4. Provide a Digital Handbook

We provide an online resource that team members can easily reference our processes, practices, and approaches. For a self-managed company like ET Group, this portal is critical to help employees understand the different ways in which we work. Continuous referencing guides employees throughout their on-boarding journey. Employees looking to practice or brush up on our decentralized decision making process can use this quick reference guide to help.

The Right Technology Makes a Difference

Technology and more specifically HR Tech (Human Resources Technology) is a growing industry of software and equipment that will help automate some human resources functions. Some of the useful tools  include employee payroll programs, workforce analytics and performance management software. But even without the latest trends in HR Tech, Technology has provided us with ability to connect and collaborate in various ways,  via phone, messenger, video conference, screen sharing and recordings. Virtual hiring and onboarding can be made easy with the right technology tools and a clear outlined approach.

ET Group can equip your company with the technology tools and experience needed to support the attraction and on-boarding of virtual employees. Reach out to us today and we will set-up a complimentary conversation to get you started!

Collaborative Justice Technology: A Compounding Investment in the Pandemic Era (And Beyond)

In 2021, technology is not only fundamentally changing how industries function, but also the ecosystems they are a part of, in no small part due to the global pandemic. An organization can choose the degree to which they will embrace the purposeful evolution of their ecosystem in uncertain times. The organizations with the strongest embrace will see the other side while also leading the innovation of their industry. Such innovation is the domain of teams of highly collaborative teams versus the great insight of an individual innovator.

Transforming a Traditional Ecosystem

The Justice system is a traditional ecosystem with hardened processes (laws are about as hardened a process as you can get) and well-established training initiatives. Is it possible to apply new technology tools to realize drastic benefits?

The opportunity to improve communication lies in the application of technology, precisely because the processes are hardened and the training is well-ingrained into the traditional culture of Justice systems, wherever you look.

With this backdrop let’s see how the four categories below can be applied to the Justice ecosystem, transform it with collaborative technology and compound the ROI of the initial business case.

  • Operational Savings
  • Productivity Improvements
  • Strategic Transformation
©️ Unsplash

Operational Savings

The lowest hanging fruits in any ecosystem are operational savings. Operational savings are when you either stop doing something you used to do, or do it differently in a way that allows you get the same result but with less cost. Let’s take the remand process as an example.

Remanded inmates are individuals who do not qualify for bail and who instead are being held in pre-detention facilities, waiting to have their trial. When they are required to appear in front of a judge it is referred to as a remand appearance. Remand appearances require a lot of people and activity to conduct. Accused individuals typically need to spend an entire day being moved from the detention facility to the courtroom and then back. This requires accompanying guards (at least 2, sometimes up to 4), specialized vehicles for transport, all the costs of being away from the facility for the day – food, gas, etc., facilities at the courthouse to hold the prisoners until it is time for their hearing, and the risk of moving prisoners around is inherent in the undertaking.

Applying video conferencing technology to facilitate remand appearances is a perfect example of how substantial cost can be taken out of the ecosystem, maintaining the same end result.

The Operational Savings = Cost avoided / Cost of video conferencing technology

While it is difficult to obtain costs for all the components involved, here is a high level estimate of the costs that could be avoided:

Costs Avoided
1)    Guards (avg. of 3) for a day = 3 x 8 hours x burdened hourly rate of Guards = 3 x 8 x $50 = $1,200 day
2)    Cost of transportation: specialized vehicle + expenses = $750/day
3)    Facilities requirements to handle prisoners in courthouse = $300/day

So, one remand appearance is probably costing taxpayers at best about $2,000. Multiplied by the number of appearances in a year that could be delivered via technology ~ 14,000 x $2,000 = $28,000,000 / year. Over a 10-year period, that is $280,000,000. Even if the estimate for the cost of one remand appearance is 50% above actual costs, there is still significant opportunity to realize operational savings.

Investing in the infrastructure required to facilitate these hearings would be significantly less than the 10-year cost of doing it without technology. One of the key investments in this process is the technology in the courtroom that allows the remand appearances to be conducted remotely.

In any organizational ecosystem there are always rooms where people from different parts of the ecosystem come together to meet. In the judicial system, these are the courtrooms in the various courthouses across the country.

A courtroom is where the 4 different constituents (Judicial, Legal, Law Enforcement and Corrections) come together to conduct their trials and is the focal point for moving the judicial process forward. To enable new communications tools to change the processes, the courtrooms must be equipped with the technology required to conduct electronic communication, which are rich experiences – just like being there.

Productivity Improvements

Courtrooms that have been enabled in this way can now be much more productive in processing the courtroom workflow (the proceedings) – a must given the backlog created by the shutdown of physical locations as a result of the pandemic. A judge in court can hold remand appearances sequentially, connecting with prisoners who appear, via video, from various correctional facilities – one after another. The physical scheduling and logistics that used to be a key component of the “old method” suddenly becomes vastly simpler and less costly. The simplified scheduling and logistics of remand appearances through the use of video conferencing technology also increases the number of appearances processed. The beneficial results of doing this:

  • Less facilities required for remand prisoners = less time required in remand facilities
  • Greater use of the judge’s time, as well as other court personnel, and their ability to handle cases (therefore less judges and court personnel required)
  • Less backlog of cases to be heard
©️ ET Group

The opportunity for greater productivity in the Justice ecosystem can be found in many other processes. Many jurisdictions have learned that leveraging video can reduce — or eliminate — many of the hidden delays and costs of the Justice system associated with logistics such as travel time for a variety of participants including witnesses, interpreters, attorneys and inmates. In an ecosystem where everyone wants to talk to the inmate (prosecutors, probation officers, public defenders, judges, etc.) easier access via video can accelerate workflow.

  • Judges can hold sessions across a wide variety of locations one after the other all from the courtroom or chambers
  • Cases get processed faster – no delay waiting for critical mass of cases in remote locations
  • Bail hearings can be enabled by video
  • Plea bargains can be implemented much faster (don’t need a 2 hour process to get into the jail to see prisoner), which means less time in jail for visitors and less requirements for facilities
  • Access to justice – inmates can access attorneys and other legal aid remotely, which includes the benefit of upholding social distancing guidelines
  • Video testimony – expert witness (can greatly reduce cost),
  • Vulnerable witness – appearing in court is dangerous, disruptive and disturbing but their testimony can be critical; video makes it easier
  • Interpreters – can handle multiple sessions just minutes apart in different locations. Therefore overall need goes down because of the tremendous compression of time.
  • Telemedicine and educational programs in prisons
  • Visitation

Clearly these productivity improvements, which were not planned for as part of the initial business case, would likely add even more financial benefits. Often, the productivity benefits that are realized in an ecosystem will quickly outweigh the operational savings provided.

Strategic Transformation

As new communications infrastructure and endpoints have been put in place over recent years – a process accelerated by the pandemic – the Justice ecosystem is being unintentionally transformed with far greater capability than was initially envisioned. The people who are using the new communications tools will start to apply the same tools to situations that were never envisioned at the start of the ecosystem’s transformation.

Let’s look at three real life examples of strategic transformation in the Justice ecosystem:

1) International Trials

With the globalization of business, there are now occasions where the globalization of court communications could greatly help the operation and productivity of trials that happen where multiple countries are involved. Our company, ET Group, facilitated a trial like this where two courtrooms in two different countries were in a single combined session at exactly the same time. The benefits were substantial:

  • Air travel was substantially reduced
  • Lawyer’s monetary and timespend costs for that travel were eliminated
  • The proceedings were able to progress faster because both courtrooms in both countries were connected to each other in real time.

One court session brought together two different jurisdictions simultaneously.

©️ Pexels

2) Virtual Meeting Rooms (VMRs)

The use of VMRs in a collaborative ecosystem typically happens at a later stage in the development of the ecosystem. VMRs are very powerful because they can:

  • Drastically reduce costs
  • Drastically accelerate the workflow (the velocity of collaboration) of both existing processes and re-engineered processes

In the Justice ecosystem a perfect example of using VMRs would be to allow the general public to pay their traffic tickets with a hearing in a VMR. When you use a VMR you don’t need a courtroom (massive cost savings), and you allow a person who received the traffic ticket to call into the VMR for their trial. The judge, the officer, the lawyer (if required) and the defendant would all be participants in the VMR. The result is significant savings in travel costs for all involved.

Using VMRs as described in the traffic ticket scenario above would also require software which would would mimic the workflow of the traffic court. People would need to check in online, be held in a queue waiting to see the judge in the VMR with the other participants. But over time this additional expense stands to be minimal compared to what could be saved through the strategic use of VMRs within the Justice collaborative ecosystem.

3) Collaborative Portals

With technology infrastructure in place, new functionalities can be implemented that were not possible before. With software, recordings of the courtroom proceedings can now be captured in a way that was not previously possible. Video and audio streams can be recorded simultaneously from the different cameras and microphones in the courtroom and can be captured as the record of the court.   These court records can be:

  • Instantly archived in the courtroom, with two layers of back-up (courthouse and datacenter)
  • Instantly retrieved whenever required by authorized personnel
  • Transcripted instantly
  • Distributed with different pieces redacted in the recording, depending on who needs to review the record
  • Used as evidence in a court of law and have the veracity to stand up to any challenges
  • Be used in an online secure portal for authorized personnel to collaborate by reviewing and commenting on the record

Extending capabilities leverages the initial investment in technology already in place and further accelerates the velocity of collaboration in the Justice ecosystem, thus compounding the initial investment.

There are more than just these three strategic transformation examples which stand to further influence the business case for investment in a new collaborative technology platform. Being able to continue to conduct business and enable access to justice for citizens using VMRs in the face of a global pandemic – in some cases more than ever before – is a prime example.

Conclusion

The natural evolution of a collaborative ecosystem is to capture operational savings first, then to realize productivity gains as a by-product through the extension of the technology to new processes, and finally, hit the home runs through the strategic transformation of the ecosystem.

It takes considerable fortitude by those steering the ecosystem to make the investment without truly understanding how the ecosystem will function when the collaborative technology is fully implemented and enabled. They must resist the temptation to cut corners and compromise on the building of the platform that will become the foundation for transformation for years (if not decades) to come.

All its woes aside, COVID-19 helped accelerate a fundamental systemic change that was already occurring – one that has now proven itself here to stay. The technology stakeholders in Justice systems around the globe would do well to take notice.

Building a Virtual Culture in 2021

How do you maintain and build a strong virtual culture in a pandemic?

By T. Smitten

Creating a Culture That Thrives

Over the last year a vast majority of organizations have transitioned to some form of a hybrid workspace, where team members have the flexibility to work remotely for most, if not all of the time.

Mark Bystrek is the head of ET Group’s People Development. He works to maintain an enriched company culture of human connection, co-creation and collaboration while using virtual technology. Through our expertise in virtual technology, ET Group has built an effective hybrid work environment and developed a company culture that thrives in it.

The Importance of Company Culture

Mark admits maintaining company culture isn’t easy, but he highlights the importance of it , “It’s going to be a challenge for all organizations, how do you connect and keep that team spirit together? Remotely? It’s something we can never let go of.  We always have to keep that in paramount, no matter how busy we are. “

Mark and the ET Group leadership team have worked to find the right balance of technology, and collaboration to create a well-connected agile work environment for team members within virtual space. But how did ET Group do this?

Mark has has found the keys to successfully maintaining company culture are:

  • Definition
  • Sharing Your Culture
  • Open Communication

Define Your Team Culture

At ET Group Mark and the leadership team have outlined the ET Group way, this is a document that is posted with the details of the company’s values, code of conduct and best practices. You want to make sure your company values are clearly outlined and easily accessible.

Share Your Team Culture

Post, post, post! Mark post videos, links, and announcements in the company’s web messenger channels for all staff to easily access. You want to make sure you are continuously sharing items the highlight, support and outline your company culture.

Open Communication is the Foundation

Communication is the foundation of a successful virtual team. Company culture should encourage communication and welcome feedback. ET Group has found using web messenger channels for announcements, surveys and to share info has been an effective for team members to share their ideas, reactions, and responses easily and openly. You want to create and allow for dialogue around your company culture posts and messages.

Ideas for Staying Connected

Communicating workplace culture in a virtual environment can seem a daunting task but it can be done using the technology we have today. It can take a little strategizing and some tech savvy but once that work is done, organizations can easily maintain organizational culture and real human connection amongst their members. Mark often will use WebEx (A web conference and message application) to share company updates. ET Group schedules company wide video conference meetings for all to attend. As part of the company culture the team is encouraged to use “video first” to hold  “face to face” conversations to help maintain connection.  

Mark is continually finding ways to develop virtual teams. He’s found the company to be far ahead of other companies working virtually in 2020 citing the various creative ways they have brought the team together. “We did weekly townhall meetings, we have a water cooler chat, – we were far ahead of a lot of organizations as such and that was keeping us connected.”

Mark also schedules virtual Team building events for the team such as:

  • Virtual Team Lunches
  • Virtual Escape Rooms/ Games Nights
  • Virtual Company Townhalls / Team Connect Meetings
  • Company Message Boards/ Communications Channels

Please see our company handbook where we share open information about how our company works together. This includes unique approaches, processes, and practices such as self-set salaries and decentralized decision making.

Mental Health Matters to Your Business

It’s important that we pay extra attention to mental health issues in our companies in 2021.

By T. Smitten

It’s 2021 and you’re settling into your “new normal” or so you thought. But things keep changing and you’re finding this pandemic requires more than simply meeting recommended protocols.

Now you’re thinking about mental health. The call for social distancing, increased workplace safety requirements and various lockdown measures have employers delving into new territory. And while employers are adjusting their business models, the individuals that make up their organizations are still adjusting also. Employers have quickly become educated on PPE, consumed with space measurements and many were compelled to transition their work environment to a virtual workspace.

Although employers are addressing the physical challenges of the pandemic to meet an increased responsibility for the physical health of their teams, studies show employers can and should help to maintain the mental health of their staff. This idea may beg the question:

How can employers, organizations, and leaders help with mental health matters at work?

Life has Completely Changed at Work

The global pandemic has changed and unified the experiences of people worldwide including how we work. With many working remotely, the workplace has now come into the home. The lifestyle of the everyday staffer and their workplace dynamics has changed. In today’s workplace an employer is closer to home than ever before.

At ET Group, HR Generalist Mark Bystrek is working on creative solutions for the Workplace Health & Safety challenges posed by the global pandemic. ET Group has operated successfully for 44 years and spent nearly the last decade working in a hybrid workspace. The company’s transition into a fully virtual work environment to  protect the health of their employees was seamless.  As a company that focuses on a human centric workplace and putting people first, ET Group is aware that additional health and safety considerations such as the mental health of the team are as equally important to the overall health of the organization and business operations. 

Mark views mental health awareness and support resources as part of leadership in any strong organization. He notes that organizations can play a role in offering help.  “An additional responsibility is dealing with people’s mental health. we all crave, being back to normal we’re all going through a change now, societal change, and it’s also workplace change. So that’s caused a lot of stress on a lot of people mentally. It takes a toll. So, it about being there to help.”

Critical to Foster a Company Culture that:

  • Provides a safe environment where employees can discuss mental wellness in confidence without stigma
  • Encourage a work/life balance (Even more during difficult times)
  • Communicating Health & Wellness
  • Offer Support to team members

Exceed Workplace Health & Safety Standards

You run an exceptional business with exceptional staff? Continue to be exceptional. Ensure you have not only met but exceeded all the workplace healthy and safety requirements for your business. A study conducted by Occupational Health Clinics for Ontario Workers; sites poor workplace precautions take more of a toll on the mental health of staff than job loss. The study found workers with inadequate safety measures in place reported increased numbers of anxiety and depression. People want to feel safe at work and also want their employers to want their safety too.

As a leader in ET Group’s Health & Safety program, Mark has noted “Part of it is very much dealing with the safety of employees and when it comes to the health and safety it’s also under the HR side of it. Making sure that people are working safe. That is very much at the forefront of having a great work environment so that if people come into the work and want to work here in the office, that they feel comfortable to be able to do so. “ Some of the steps ET Group has taken to exceed workplace health & safety standards are:

  • Daily Health Questionnaire for those who will be in the office
  • Mandatory Masks in the office
  • Enhanced Office Clearance – prebooking or scheduling time in the office
  • A robust COIVD – 19 protocol when an employee is suspected or has tested positive
  • Signage and markings to ensure that everyone maintains social distancing
  • Skeleton staff – Only essential employees working in the office.

Keep Your Teams Talking

Since the start of the pandemic Canadians have reported an increase in mental health issues. Two in Five Canadians say they have had a mental health decrease in the last year according to a study commissioned by CTV news. With working from home becoming more common, employers now have a unique opportunity to connect with their teams in a more personable way. Communication is key to not only maintain company culture but to syncing up and checking in with the people in your organization.

Mark’s created a Covid Communication channel within a web messenger where he communicates with the entire team.  “ We provide a daily COVID updates bases on the PHAC and Government of Ontario Website, COVID-19 news highlights from various media sources and provide updates when there are any status changes by any government agencies” says Mark. To help with morale Mark also posts uplifting current events.

Create an Open Door for Mental Health Resources

Encouraging your team to make use of the health resources associated with their benefits is step in the right direction. Offering an open-door policy even if virtual will help create a safe space for those struggling with a mental health matter. Offer additional help if it is not offered in the company’s benefit  package.  According to CAMH ( Centre for Addiction and Mental Health)  Canadians that struggle with Mental Health during the pandemic are experiencing a normal reaction to a global social, economic and major health crisis. It is to be expected. CAMH has found health resources and support can help those who struggle with mental health in these times find ways to cope. As ET Group is a company based out of  Ontario Mark also recommends:

  • Offering resources to help support employees
  • Employee assistance plan
  • Job protected unpaid leave of absence
  • Long Term Disability

Our goal is to ensure that our workplace is as safe as possible for all our employees” says Mark, and that includes mental health.  When it comes to mental health and your organization just remember, we are all in this together and your organization will thrive when your members do.

Please see our company handbook where we share open information about how our company works together. This includes unique approaches, processes, and practices such as self-set salaries and decentralized decision making.

ARTICLE: The Workplace is Going Hybrid

Exploring the new reality of a hybrid workplace. One which allows the flexibility of employees working between home, office, and remote locations.

By T. Smitten

When asked how he would describe 2020, David Kerr, ET Group’s Unified Communications and Collaboration Specialist replies “exceptional and unprecedented.”

On any given workday in 2019, David would be designing and implementing Unified Communications solutions for a variety of large Canadian organizations. Fast forward to present day and his workday remains fairly unchanged. While most organizations found the requirements of social distancing a major challenge to their continued daily operations, ET Group did not. In his five years with the company, David has been a part of the ET Group team that works on designing, integrating, and optimizing clients unified communications and collaboration environments. The kind of hybrid environments that allow working from anywhere, whether at home, in the office, or completely remote.

Work is no longer about where you do it, it’s about what you do and how it gets done.

Hybrid is the Future Workspace

Organizations have mobilized work from home infrastructure and policies that have forever shaped the way we approach work. Now that the dust has begun to settle, they are collectively looking to the future once again. As companies explore shifting their workers back to the office. They are also envisioning what a flexible workplace might mean to their long-term workplace strategies.

  • How will our workplace strategies and technology strategies need to change?
  • How will our office evolve to integrate and include the remote workers?
  • What technologies will support flexible working between the office, home, and remote locations?
  • How will we enable our people to convene for group work?

David is part of the HybridX innovation team at ET Group. He has witnessed and assisted in the architecture of workplace communications firsthand. He is proud to share that, “We’re not afraid of doing remote work and using remote technologies. We’ve been demonstrating it for years. It works, I mean, we’re thriving.”

Workplace and Tech Strategies are Changing

Having worked with many clients to implement their technology strategies to transition to an integrated modern-day workspace. David reflects on the success in leading others to their ideal connected and collaborative work environment, both physically and virtually. “We’re (ET Group) currently experiencing what we’ve been already living for the past few years. Covid has forced us (society) to put it into place now to some degree. By living it, it gives us great advantages in terms of being able to share the experience with others and see what the potential could be.”

“73% of employees want their company to embrace flexibility (working both remotely and in office) post COVID-19.”

Mckinsey Report – June 2020

David has noted the required changes that companies have begun making to their workplace strategies:

  • Increased prioritization of workplace technology within business. Organizations need to have a technology strategy that can evolve for the future.
  • Intuitive tools; Organizations should be able to define their desired user experience with the technology they are choosing.
  • Reliable and user-friendly video communications. Organizations are now in a video first culture that requires high quality audio and visual performance along with an easy to use platform.
Stay Home Stay Safe – Remote Working in 2020

Prioritizing Flexible, Collaborative Technology

David has also witnessed some setbacks for companies who did not prioritize flexible and collaborative technology tools within their operations. He remarks at the number of companies who were unprepared to work remotely this year. “It was really quite surprising to me but it’s not all that uncommon. It seems that some companies are still kind of slow to change and Covid has really exposed that.”

David listed some fundamentals items every organization will need for a hybrid workspace:

  • Laptops – Companies should ensure their teams have laptops for mobility vs. desktops. HD built in cameras are critical.
  • Webcams – Companies should ensure team members have working high resolution video tools for home offies.
  • Secure Communications – Companies should invest in secure software and platforms to maintain privacy.
  • Remote work connections like a VPN – Companies should invest in a virtual private network.
  • Headsets or Audio Boxes – Quality sound and audio for meetings. Forget the basic headphones.
  • Data Sovereignty   -Companies should be familiar with the location of their servers and data and be aware of any privacy laws relating to the storage of their information.

Challenges of a Going to a Hybrid Workplace

As part of ET Group’s HybridX innovation team, David works on identifying and resolving the human challenges of collaboration, communication, and connection using technology.  “There were a lot of users that weren’t ready for this. From the standpoint of some users – technology kind of makes them afraid.” Increasing team adoption, training, and comfort levels with technology is critical to overall success when transitioning to working flexible between the office and at home.

When implementing new technology into a hybrid environment, David notes some things to consider are:

  • Get feedback from your team on their desired user experience and ease of use. What do they need from the technology to get their work done?
  • Ensure you fully understand what the technology will allow you to do and not do. Research your options and assess reliability.
  • Find a good consultant to work with your leadership team and determine the technology roadmap that works for your business. ET Group offers a human-centric approach to visioning, strategizing, designing, implementing, and evolving your technology roadmap as part of our HybridX offering.

David offers his take on additional challenges he has seen this year, “What I think is happening is a couple of things, one, sometimes whoever is making the decision makes it a challenge. It could be making the decision on the technology platform that we should move forward with, but there was really no consultation with the users in terms of what we really need. Which can definitely be a challenge and wreck user adoption or hinder user adoption. The other element is personal bias at times that gets in the way. So, it’s like, ‘Hey, I’m a Microsoft guy’ and that’s all I want to deal with’. I don’t really care about whatever else is out there, even if there are better tools. Other challenges are a lack of information around what technology you need to work better, which is what we’ve been trying to do at ET Group, share that info. “

Preparing your Company for the Transition

David shares valuable words of wisdom when it comes to integrating new technology into your business. “Organizations must lose the fear of failure”. This can cripple the ability to discover new things. He recommends keeping an open mind when it comes to trying new technology and stresses the need to consider your users when implementing new technology.

“I had the opportunity to work with my church, for example. There’s a lot of users there that just aren’t into this remote working space at all,” says David. “A proper understanding of the users (i.e. accessibility requirements, sights impaired vs hearing impaired, etc.) is crucial to seamless user adoption within an organization.”

Many businesses are still unprepared to implement work from home programs although we are at a time in history when technology makes it more possible than ever. With companies starting to reintroduce their teams back into the physical workspace amidst and post-pandemic, they are experiencing unique operational challenges within their industries. “ET Group is really taking the time to hone in on what we have not only experienced but kind of referring back to what we’ve heard from our customers.”

Work isn’t About Where, it’s About What

HybridX (Hybrid Workplace Experience) makes it possible and beneficial to every team, organization or business that thrives on communicating, collaborating, and connecting anywhere in the world.

Work is no longer about where you do it, it’s about what you do and how it gets done.

ET Group has invested years into studying and fine tuning the design for the workplace of the future. ET Group’s strategies for collaborative work environments have kept people together even when apart. “What HybridX is really saying is there’s a new work experience, we want to hone in on what that experience is for you and what makes the best sense,” says David.

ET Group takes a strategic approach to designing innovative hybrid workspaces solutions. By applying human-centric design processes, we create seamless and powerful connections between the office, the home, and the remote worker.

Transitioning your organization to a hybrid work environment can seem overwhelming and costly. With the right tools and design process, your organization can experience a new level of communication, collaboration and connection while increasing your ROI (Return on investment) in the long term.

BLOG: How to Maximize Your Virtual Collaboration Experience

If your team is looking for new ways to supercharge your virtual collaboration experience, here are some key insights to maximize their potential.

By T. Smitten

Article based on the Supercharging Your Virtual Collaboration Experience webinar. Download the webinar.

In these unprecedented time, organizations are working to identify and resolve challenges in remote working environments. We spoke to our partners and found they are facing challenges beyond selecting technology tools.  Organizations are now faced with improving communication and productivity in the virtual workspace for team members and clients alike. The question is, how do we work together remotely in a way that is enhances our experience?

4 years working as a distributed team

At ET Group we have spent the last four years working as a distributed team. We have faced various challenges and uncovered some creative solutions. We have built successful remote workspaces for our team and clients all over the world.

We’ve identified and experienced so many different work styles and tools that contribute to productivity. We have found success by focusing on a more collaborative workspace. Maintaining connection, enhancing teamwork and preserving organisational culture in our hybrid workspace environments.

Now more then ever organizations are realizing this present-day global issue is an invitation to try new things and innovate as they go. We have found that yes, technology can be uncomfortable. Yes, teams are finding themselves in a new territory but fear not. Success can be achieved! Organizations need to properly assess their remote working challenges and hold open discussions within their organizations to find ideal solutions.

Here are some quick tips for supercharging your virtual team collaboration:

1. Be Kind and be Bold!

Start your virtual collaboration sessions with an attitude of “learning as you go”. Try new things and find what works for you. Don’t be afraid to try multiple collaboration tools and technologies to find the right mix.

2. Re-Discover Your People

Encourage open communication and idea sharing between your team members. Find the hidden talents within your team. This will help maintain connection and jump start innovations for your organization.

3. Leverage Hidden Strengths

Leverage the strengths of your team and show appreciation for individual talents. In this new era, you will find “hidden” strengths and technical “know how” within your team that will help enhance your virtual collaboration. You never know who will have experienced working with Zoom, WebEx or Nureva tools that you had not called on before.  

4.  Be Agile

Take incremental steps, take quick wins, repeat the good and do not hold onto “norms”. Create new ones!

Supercharging your virtual collaboration will not only present key challenges but it will give your organization opportunities. Need help with assessing and implementing your collaboration tools? Our team is always here to help! Contact us for more details on how to better your remote work environment.

VIDEO: The Future of Work(ers) in Brave Organizations

On January 23, The Moment invited ET Group to join a panel discussion exploring the next generation of Organization Design and what that means for workers within the Future of Work. 

Watch the full panel discussion

Is your organization Brave?

To excel in the Future of Work, organizations must be brave. They must lead by embracing new team dynamics, distributing authority and decision-making, and enabling employees and customers with a strong voice.

Innovation and culture are integral to the success of organizations in these new conditions. Yet, corporate structures so often block employees from recognizing and responding to change. How can organizations tap into the creative and innovative skillset of its workers while embracing new ways of working?

The Moment and DesignTO co-presented “The Future of Work(ers) in Brave Organizations” as part of the DesignTO Festival in 2020.

The conference speaks to themes of:

“Teal” and self-organizing models
Dynamic and responsive operations
Self-aware workers and leaders
Organizations who are pushing the status quo, and leading in new and unique way

Featuring Simon Mhanna (The Moment), Michelle N Moore (ET Group), Peter Aprile (CounterTax), and Laura Zizzo (Mantle314).

‘The Future of Work(ers) in Brave Organizations’ was co-presented by DesignTO and The Moment. Event space and support provided by Teknion.

ARTICLE: 5 Tips for Hosting Effective Large Video Conferences

If your team has been hosting large group video conference meetings because of COVID-19, here are some key insights to maximize your meeting potential.

By Tracy Smitten

Article based on our Webinar: Hosting Large Group Video Conferences Effectively. Download the webinar.

Amid the COVID-19 public health emergency and for the first time in our history, society has committed to maintaining physical distancing with a strong need to work together to find new ways to communicate, collaborate, and connect with each other.

For the last 4 years, ET Group has grown as a productive, self-managed, collaborative unit, while working almost entirely remotely. Our team’s operate regularly in large group video meetings. We host virtual team connects that run up to 5 hours in length, host large group town hall meetings with over 40 people, and collaborate daily in large group virtual settings. We continue to explore new tools and practices that can enrich our team’s virtual experience.

Here are 5 key tips we have learned to make your next meeting more effective.

1. Identify the technology you will need

What are the technology platforms, tools, and equipment will need to use. Make sure to choose a video conferencing platform like Zoom or Webex that can take advantage of large groups using settings like gallery view. Equipping all of your team’s participants with the best audio and video equipment available will maximize everyone’s experience. This will ensure that everyone is on the same playing field, limiting technology issues and creating a more engaging experience for all.

2. Define your meeting roles


It is critical to establish a few base roles to ensure you create clarity and the ability to run a smooth meeting. Who will be the meeting hosting? Who will be facilitator to guide and hold space for the conversation? Who will be scribing and taking notes? Who will be responsible to manage the technology?

It may sound like a lot of roles but they are key to your success!

Host: Establishes the meeting context and the meeting objectives
Facilitator: Guides the conversation, keeps the meeting in check and on-time, while allowing the group to focus on the content.
Scribe: Takes notes and documents the meeting.
Technology Manager (Optional): Ensures the meeting is set-up, handles tech issues, and records the call if necessary.

3. Put together the structure for your meeting


What is the purpose of your meeting? What do you want to get out of it? What do you want people to experience?

Establish a structure for your meeting to make effective use of time and increase the clarity and expectations for participants. Create your meeting objectives, meeting milestones, determining meeting length, and choosing your facilitation style.

4.  Choose your meeting practices and processes


Determine the level of engagement you plan to invite from your participants.

Check-in’s are a fantastic way to establish everyone’s place in the meeting. Asking a question such as, how are you arriving and what do you expect out of today’s meeting. It helps people feel engaged and not lost in such a large virtual group.

However, in a large group setting it can be tough to manage this in a timely manner. Instead, ask your participants to write their check-in via the chat window or using a collaboration platform like Webex Teams or Slack.

Use practices that maintain involvement and engagement from your participants. Send out periodic meeting polls or pose questions that participants can answer in the chat window, rather than out loud. This can also help manage time in a large group while involving everyone.

It is important that you use practices and processes that create an environment that invites everyone to participate. So that it is not the One-to-Many experience that so often plagues large group settings. This is one person speaking to a large group.

5. Understand the mindset of your participants


Understanding the mindset of your participants is key to an effective meeting. What mindset are participants potentially arriving into the meeting with?

Are they arriving with confusion surrounding the meeting? Are they unclear of why they are invited? Are they feeling excited or down?

As a host or facilitator, it is your job to gauge the room and ensure you can manage the group, shift gears if required, and draw the best out of everyone.

We would love to hear about your experience in the comments

We have sought and found virtual meeting techniques that enhance human connection.  We have found video conferencing can be extremely productive! We thrive when we can bring harmony to our work and workplace with technology.

We would love to hear about your experience with remote working and how the 5 core elements of Effective Video Conferencing have worked for you. Let us know how you do!

Register for Our Upcoming Webinar Series

In an effort to help organizations and individuals during the COVID-19 pandemic, we are launching a series of webinars to offer our expertise.

WEBINAR: Supercharging Your Virtual Collaboration Experience

WHEN: Wednesday, April 22, 2020
TIME: 2:00 p.m. (EDT)
LENGTH: 45-Minutes

Rich virtual collaboration presents key challenges and opportunities. This webinar is for you whether you are new to collaborating remotely or you have been doing it for years. We will discuss key tools, processes, and technology that will help supercharge your next virtual collaboration experience.

You’ll get to see, learn, and participate in a virtual collaboration session hosted by seasoned experts from ET Group (Workplace Technology Integrator) and Nureva (Creators of Visual Collaboration Technology)

WEBINAR: Hosting Large Group Video Conferences Effectively

WHEN: Wednesday, March 25, 2020
TIME: 3:00 p.m. (EDT) | 12:00 p.m. (PDT)
LENGTH: 60-Minutes

Are you having difficulty hosting effective remote large group meetings? Are they making you and your colleagues feel bored, frustrated, or disengaged?

Many companies in the last month have rolled out mandatory work-from-home policies amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s presenting new roadblocks and challenges to enabling better communication, collaboration, and connection while hosting and participating in large group remote meetings.

Dirk Propfe, the CEO of ET Group is hosting a 60 minute webinar with expert virtual facilitator Brent Lowe. Brent will help you learn how to better host more effective and meaningful large group remote meetings through some of the best practices and approaches.


What you will learn:

  • How to have more meaningful and effective meetings
  • How to make everyone feel included and engaged
  • How to work well together as a team in a large group setting
  • How to get innovative ideas from unexpected sources
  • How to work on complex topics together