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Building a Culture of Trust: The Importance of Psychological Safety in the Hybrid Workplace

today2023.04.14. 1750

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WHY SHOULD YOU CARE?

Why should you care about psychological safety in the hybrid workplace? Simple: it’s essential for building high-performing teams. In a world where remote work is becoming the norm, creating a culture of trust and inclusivity is more important than ever. In this blog, we’ll explore the concept of psychological safety and provide practical strategies for creating it in a hybrid workplace.

The COVID-19 pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. Remote work, once a perk for a lucky few, has become the new norm for millions of people around the world. As the world begins to reopen, many companies are adopting a hybrid workplace model that combines in-person and remote work. While this new model has many benefits, it also presents some unique challenges, including the need to create psychological safety for all employees, regardless of where they work. This topic calls for further exploration and discussion, hence it will be one of the focused subjects at the HORIZON Summit.

Psychological safety is a term coined by Harvard Business School Professor Amy Edmondson. It refers to “a shared belief held by members of a team that the team is safe for interpersonal risk-taking.” In other words, psychological safety is the feeling that you can speak up, share your ideas, and take risks without fear of punishment or ridicule. According to Edmondson, psychological safety is essential for high-performing teams.

In a hybrid workplace, creating psychological safety can be more challenging than in a traditional office setting. In an article for Harvard Business Review, Edmondson and her co-author, Mark Mortensen, explain why: “When it comes to psychological safety, managers have traditionally focused on enabling candor and dissent with respect to work content. The problem is, as the boundary between work and life becomes increasingly blurry, managers must make staffing, scheduling, and coordination decisions that take into account employees’ personal circumstances — a categorically different domain. Obviously, simply saying “just trust me” won’t work.”

Lynda Gratton, a professor at London Business School, pointed out the importance of resilience as one of the foundations of psychological safety: “The past few years have been tough and chaotic for many working people. Assumptions, habits, and ways of working have changed, and as we look forward, many of us realize that building personal resilience will be key.” – and the ability to build a friendship at work can significantly contributes to employee wellbeing and overall psychological safety.

So how can companies create psychological safety in a hybrid workplace? Here are some strategies that experts recommend:

  1. Encourage open communication: In a hybrid workplace, communication is more important than ever. Companies should encourage open communication and make it easy for employees to share their thoughts and ideas. This could include regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins, and virtual collaboration tools.
  2. Build trust: Trust is essential for psychological safety. As Pamela Meyer points out: “ A lack of trust between colleagues and managers in remote and hybrid environments can damage workplace culture and morale.” Companies should work to build trust among all employees, regardless of where they work. In order to build trust open, transparent communication and proactive feedback are key. In addition, quality time spent in and outside of the office as a team may also foster trust.
  3. Foster a culture of inclusivity: In a hybrid workplace, it’s easy for remote workers to feel left out. Companies should work to foster a culture of inclusivity where everyone feels valued and included. One of the ways to build a culture of inclusivity by analyzing employees’ network connections can show whether they have the access and relationships they need to be most effective.
  4. Lead by example: Finally, leaders play a crucial role in creating psychological safety. Leaders should model the behavior they want to see in their teams, such as being open to feedback, admitting mistakes, showing vulnerability, and encouraging risk-taking.

In conclusion, psychological safety is essential for high-performing teams in a hybrid workplace. Companies that prioritize creating psychological safety can build a culture of trust, inclusivity, and open communication that will benefit all employees, regardless of where they work. As Amy Edmondson says, “Psychological safety isn’t just a nice-to-have. It’s a must-have for any team that wants to achieve great things.”


Written by: Mihaly Nagy

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