My friend Christina, who works in IT, called me last month thrilled about her new role: “I’m a Chief Happiness Officer”, she said. “Is that even a role, “I thought, but I promptly replied, “Congratulations, well done!”.

I was confused. I had been led to believe that happiness is the fruit of success, not a precursor, but the reverse seems to be true. Happy workers are 13% more productive according to a research study by Said Business School.

Understanding the main drivers of happiness in organizations is crucial to facilitating a happy, modern, and dynamic workplace. But what will happiness look like in a hybrid work environment?

The technological revolution hasn’t led to happiness

Leadership has always mattered, but the way we operate as leaders matters now more than ever. The ethos of Servant Leadership philosophy turns the traditional hierarchical leadership pyramid upside down: Servant Leaders place a priority on serving and giving credit to others, making their talent feel more connected to the organization, its vision, goals, and respecting the way they want to work.

an image showing a black young lady doing a check in during her weekly team meeting.

As a leader and a digital enthusiast, I have come across challenging thoughts when it comes to staying very connected and motivating the team within the hybrid workforce. Technology is powerful, and I shudder to think how we’d have navigated the pandemic without the tools that companies produce to facilitate communication and collaboration.

However, it hasn´t made us happier and the pandemic tremendously enhanced that fact. With the drop of human connection (one of the top indicators of human happiness), we´ve seen the rise of fatigue, emotional exhaustion, and unhappiness due to a decrease in work-life balance.

I can´t tell you how much I miss the off-site gatherings with my team, where I used to get the chance of sharing ideas and strategies LIVE with all of them; not to mention the great fun we always used to have together.

We’re humans and we need human connection to thrive. This led me to the thought that more than ever, I need to adopt a Chief Happiness Officer approach and ensure my team has everything they need to keep running the show the phenomenal way they always have.

How is happiness defined in a hybrid work environment?

While others might feel more comfortable about working from home to gain more quality time with their kids and families, others may feel more productive and stimulated in an office environment, co-working with other peers. What should leaders prioritize nowadays to develop motivated, happy, and high-performance teams? Here is my take!

Empathy: is at the heart of Servant Leadership and has become a mighty superpower. The ability to understand the diversity within our teams is crucial to make them stand out at their fullest skills and capabilities.

Proximity: working remotely does not mean we cannot practice proximity. We just need to defy the laws of creativity. Every month, I and some of my team members get together for breakfast, in what we´ve so-called the “Zarina´s Breakfast Club”.We receive a breakfast package at home and for an hour we chat about anything and everything, except work – that is totally forbidden. I found it a super invigorating activity and a wonderful way to get to know them better: their dreams, ambitions, and Spotify playlists.

Kindness is our currency. Kindness uplifts people and it’s a trait we practice in my team daily and through special touches: gift boxes for special occasions, be it Valentine’s Day, birthday messages, and warm welcome messages to the newbies.  

Fun: Yes, having fun online can never compare to a face-to-face gathering, but in the end, if we manage to have good laughs together and keep some happiness hormones rolling, it´s still a win! From virtual yoga, a gym class, cooking pasta, dancing salsa, mindfulness, making cocktails, online games, etc. it does not take much to engage your team in having a break towards happy moments. Again, defying creativity is the key!

Giving back together: Giving back is part of who we are. With the pandemic restrictions, I´ve encouraged my team to be extraordinary together, even miles apart. That´s why we pick worldwide important dates/events and support them together from our home countries:

For the World Clean-Up Day, we cleaned up our neighbourhoods and beaches together from 5 different locations in EMEAR. On International Refugee Day, we took one afternoon to donate items to NGO´s that give assistance to refugees.

Giving back also means giving back to ourselves. So, on International Happiness Day, we took the afternoon off to take care of ourselves and engage in something we love to do. We also powered future careers to Moroccan youth with a full digital mentorship program in association with SOS Children´s Villages in Morocco.

Implementing the above is a highway to create a purpose and a sense of belonging amongst diverse teams and driving happiness at work.  

Happiness is a business metric 

Hybrid working is about to teach us great lessons. The future of workplace culture is relying on us, as leaders and happiness ambassadors to create happy and productive work environments. Building a solid base of happy and healthy habits to fuel communication and meaningful interactions amongst our teams will help us shape a resilient approach no matter what the future holds. Happiness is a process; shall we make it the ultimate formula to success?

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