Balancers need the structure provided by an office, with boundaries modeled by their managers — for example, being told it’s OK not to respond to emails that come in over the lunch hour, while synergists’ need for autonomy should be respected, she said.
It will be challenging, she noted, for companies to foster a sense of community and culture with such different groups of employees as the pandemic continues and firms adopt a hybrid work schedule. Balancers, she said, should be honest about what they need from managers — namely that they require more structure in order to flourish and succeed.
In contrast, synergists should declare that they need more autonomy to work well. And if they’re not immediately responding to a Slack message, managers should trust their judgment that they’re working on a more-important task.
As an aside, Ms. Ming said her research revealed that during the pandemic, the likelihood of an employee gaining a promotion was directly related to how much face time that worker had with his or her manager over Zoom or other videoconferencing platforms.
For people doing remote work, “the more minutes you get in front of your manager, the more likely you are to get a promotion,” she said. It doesn’t even matter if this worker is doing a good job or not, she added, noting that this pattern also plays out when work happens in the office as well.
Employees with higher virtual communication skills also fare better, she said.
Employees with a reliable internet connection, good lighting for their workspace and the knowledge that a mic placed too close will amplify their breathing, are perceived as more competent.
As such, Ms. Ming suggests that companies conduct media training sessions so that employees can put their best face forward during Zoom conference calls.
“Even if intellectually you fully understand it’s a technology problem, your company should be investing in these communication technologies and trainings,’’ she said. “Again, even if you are fully aware of everything I am talking about and think, ‘I am a rational person — I mean I manage a billion dollars — I don’t make irrational decisions.’”
“You do, ‘cause you are human. And this is one of them that you will be making.”