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More Than Talking Heads

Let’s talk about hybrid and virtual work. Boston is mid-way (hopefully) through a COVID surge. This has, yet again, shifted plans in many companies and caused others to continue their commitment to hybrid or virtual work. At this point, we know that we can work this way. What many are also noticing are the changes in company culture and the lack of connection on your teams. I have a controversial opinion here. Virtual meetings are not to blame for this.

The fact is that before the pandemic many offices were not places of intentional communication. The workplace, particularly in the U.S., has not traditionally been a place that focused on the humans in the space as much as the work. In person, with the assistance of sub-verbal communication and office perks, your talent could navigate that with ease. With your teams either partially or completely online, you have neither of these supports. So it could be that the work is getting done but you may also be having, or brewing, retention problems.

So, what do you do about this?

It is simple, and hard. You have to bring intentionality to your interactions. Making a point to connect with people’s lives outside of work. Asking about their needs, and caring about the answers. Communicating more, and with more depth, even if initially productivity takes a hit. We have, for far too long, wanted the perks of human communication without investing in the humanity of it. One of this pandemic’s lessons is that we don’t have to live like this and your staff are definitely hearing that message loud and clear.

This week’s challenge

Schedule an exercise (the internet has you on this but email me if you need help) to get people talking about how they actually are. It doesn’t have to be super personal, especially if real is new for all of you. It can be as simple as asking people to list a want, a need, and a guilty pleasure. Really look at people as you listen to them with empathy. Let yourself care for them, and let them feel it, that is where exceptional human communication begins.

Gina Razón is the Founder and CEO at GROW Voice LLC, a full-service verbal communication studio in Boston’s Back Bay.  She has over two decades of experience as a teacher of voice and speech, is a communication and change facilitator, and is a voraciously curious voice user.  Gina has worked professionally as a classical singer for over a decade and more recently as a professional public speaker.  For more information on the studio or to book Gina visit

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