Remote Working

Worried about presence disparity? We have the solution

Lydia Watson

The future of the workplace is on everyone’s mind right now. Maybe you’re committing to a hybrid workforce model – but even if you expect everyone back in the office, a staggered return is likely while social distancing measures and safety concerns taper off.

Dealing with a dispersed workforce means facing a new challenge: presence disparity.

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Presence disparity: a big challenge for the hybrid workforce

‘Presence disparity’ might not be a term you’ve heard of, but you might be familiar with it in practice. It’s about the different experiences people have of the same event if they’re not in the same physical space – like a business meeting that’s in person, and via video call.

So what’s the issue? There’s a lot of ways presence disparity causes problems: unclear communication due to missing body language queues, people forgetting others have called in, or conversations continuing ‘offline’ without the remote participants.

Whether you’re temporarily hybrid, or in it for the long run, how can you tackle this?

Tactics for avoiding presence disparity:

  • Make the rules and regs clear: clarity and transparency is everything. Before hybrid work becomes a reality, set out your policy so everyone has known and understands expectations – and is aware of the pitfalls of presence disparity
  • Decide how meetings work: should every meeting be a video call, or should they all be in person? Should remote workers submit talking points ahead of time, so they’re given a fair opportunity to contribute? Who takes notes, and tracks decisions made?
  • Adapt to different people’s needs: some teams will prefer to save their catch-ups for the office, others just want quick daily calls. Similarly, some people aren’t shy to speak up in a video conference but others will need to be prompted. Be empathetic and fair
  • Equip yourself with helpful tools: invest in quality video conferencing and fast WiFi, so calls from the office aren’t an ordeal. Look at instant messaging applications, for a new way of getting the job done, to reflect people’s communicative styles
  • Opportunities to level the playing field: consider how to rotate who’s in and out of office, and who’s leading multi-team calls. Think about continuing to have remote-only days, where no secret meetings or off-the-cuff strategy changes leave people behind

Qlearsite can help, thanks to powerful listening technology

Presence disparity can lead to poor communication, frustrated employees, and a lack of cohesion around your organisation’s strategy. Bridging that gap between remote and office workers will take a lot of listening – and we can help you with that:

1. Give HR the tools they need to listen to multi-location teams

Employee surveys are the best way to give everyone a chance to be heard – whether they’re working from. HR professionals can send surveys specific to listening, communication, transparency or other relevant topics and segment the data to see if office, remote, and hybrid workers feel differently about their working lives.

2. Show managers where they can focus to improve connection

Using our advanced survey dashboard, survey responses can be segmented by demographic or department – with each manager given oversight of the positive and negative responses of their team, and the insights they need to define their next steps. Action planning functionality helps them turn that into real change.

3. Identify the biggest issues that presence disparity is causing

We call it the ‘Smart Reader’ – powerful AI technology that reads each and every employee comment, identifying common themes, and understanding the feeling behind each one. From this, you’ll spot any warning signs and possible solutions proactively.

Find out more by booking a demo:

It’s time to start the conversation

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