How to Cultivate Hustle In 

a Hybrid Workplace

Five Ways to Make Sure Productivity is Visible

How can you ensure hustle is cultivated in your hybrid workplace? CEOs have raised concerns about remote workers embracing a hustle mentality but Digital Wellness Expert Mark Ostach said there are ways managers and their remote employees can work to create an arrangement that encompasses hustle in a hybrid office.

Companies are taking different approaches in moving to a hybrid workplace. Some employees divide their work week between the office and home. Ostach, author of  Courage to Connect™, works with business leadership to create a culture of connection in a hybrid workplace. According to Ostach, there are five ways to promote hustle in a hybrid workplace. 

“There is a stigma that remote employees are not ambitious and productive,” said Ostach. “The keys to building the hustle into a hybrid office is adapting a ‘moments that matter’ approach. Working in a hybrid office requires more planning and care. If your sales team is trying to close a deal, the priority should be for them to hold a face-to-face meeting. If your creative team is planning to launch a campaign, they should hold the first meeting in person. It comes down to planning ahead and being strategic for key moments that matter.”

Five Ways to Cultivate Hustle in the Hybrid Workplace:

  1. Prepare for Key Moments: Managers and remote employees should work together to develop a strategy to handle key moments. Sometimes a Zoom call will be sufficient but there will be bigger moments when a face-to-face meeting may be necessary. 
  1. Establish a flexible work routine: Flexibility is key for connection. Make sure your expectations are clear and performance is sustained while you stay flexible. Plans are likely to evolve over the next month and throughout the next year so anything set in stone is likely to be etched out.  Managers and remote employees should determine a work routine that fits for both parties. A standard 9-to-5 work day in-person may look different for remote workers. Stay flexible!
  1. Provide visibility of your work schedule: While remote employees may feel their lack of presence at the office may be determinantal, they should not burden their manager about every doctor appointment and errand they run. It is best to map out their week and write a summary about the gaps in their schedule and provide frequent check-ins. The key is to keep the check-ins concise and proactive in nature! 
  1. Be active on Mondays and Friday: It is no surprise that most remote employees prefer to work from home on Mondays and Fridays. To many managers, most sick days and person time occurs on Mondays and Fridays. For remote employees, it is important to manage perceptions that they are working on Mondays and Fridays from home. It is recommended for remote employees to respond to emails promptly, be responsive and proactive.
  1. Ask for Feedback: Managers should work hard to provide feedback regularly to remote employees. The best way to reduce friction is to keep in tune with your manager. If not, the remote employee should take the initiative and schedule time on their manager’s schedule. And remember, feedback is a gift! 

Ostach added that a workplace needs to compel people to want to return. The space needs to inspire collaboration, connection, creativity and a sense of belonging that people may have lost this past year. 

About Mark Ostach

Ostach’s goal is to restore energy and focus to organizations battling modern life’s non-stop pace and growing sense of disconnection.

If you Really Knew Me…..

How Being Vulnerable Can Inspire 

Human Connection in a Hybrid Workplace

What started as a simple warm up exercise to encourage co-worker connection during the pandemic is gaining traction on reigniting human connection in a hybrid workplace.

Digital Wellness Expert Mark Ostach, keynote speaker and author of “Courage to Connect”, works to restore focus and bring digital wellbeing to organizations battling a growing sense of disconnection. 

He began using an icebreaker exercise called ‘If You Really Knew Me’ to help encourage social connection when employees worked remotely. Ostach begins the exercise by sharing personal insight about himself to the group such as, “If you really knew me, you would know….I have two kids, I experience seasonal depression, and I’m a huge Kenny G fan :)” The statements he shares range from being more informational to being more vulnerable.

18 months later, Ostach is amazed by the effectiveness and momentum of the exercise. He often receives feedback by former participants about how sharing things that are vulnerable in nature has brought them closer with their coworkers, some of whom they’ve never met in person.

“ ’If You Really Knew Me’ is like an icebreaker on steroids,” says Ostach. “It will take time for employees to get back in person and to connect beyond the surface. The exercise sparks virtual vulnerability and gets people connected right out of the gate. Inspiring connection in a hybrid workplace is key for fostering a culture of connection and helping employees learn to handle their stress in a healthy manner. 

It is critical for managers to demonstrate empathy for the changes employees are going through and understand ways to restore energy and team member interaction.”

Ostach adds the exercise is also good for managers to take some time to be more relational in their connections as opposed to being transactional with our interactions when we only focus on the task at hand. He stresses leaders need to be intentional with creating space for connection.

“I love witnessing leaders be vulnerable and connect with courage! I believe fostering ways to encourage social connection is going to be the most important skill as we move forward with the hybrid workplace. It also allows people to get to know each other more meaningfully. It’s a great supplement for the type of conversations that tend to happen at the water cooler or over a working lunch.” 

Ostach observes when the pandemic began in spring 2020, employees adapted to learning, living, and leading from home. While this has created flexibility and autonomy among teams, this can also create a sense of disconnection and isolation.

Responses from employees at Fortune 500 companies to entrepreneurial startups included:

If You Really Knew Me You’d Know That…

  • I’m trying to approach middle age gracefully!
  • I was recently diagnosed with severe sleep apnea.
  • My mother died last month and I’m struggling to get out of bed.
  • I’ve been estranged from my brother for the past 20 years
  • I have 2 overweight cats that sleep by my home office while I work all day 

“The most impactful time spent facilitating virtual meetings is watching employees be more vulnerable and share their emotions,” shares Ostach. “ I’ve seen C-Level executives offer information in a global meeting that puts them in a place of trust and vulnerability as they’ve shared the recent passing of a parent. I’ve seen new hires get to know their team in short order by learning about personal facts through the ‘If you really knew me’ exercise. 

Ostah adds that, “If you really knew me, you’d know that It’s been such a joy to witness social connection through this exercise!”

Ostach helps people find the courage to connect—with themselves, their purpose, and with the people in their lives—both online and offline. Ostach’s goal is to restore energy and focus to organizations battling modern life’s non-stop pace and growing sense

of disconnection. He’s done this locally with organizations like DTE, Quicken Loans, Consumers, MEDC, & Honigman and nationally with global companies like BASF,  AllState, HItachi, and others. 

He’s on a mission to teach people healthy digital habits so they can improve their digital wellness and create deeper connections with things in life that matter most.

Digital Wellness Expert Mark Ostach in the News:

Businesses Getting Creative to Overcome 

Workplace Disconnection 

Three Tips to Help Restore Energy & Employee Interaction in the Virtual Workplace

A year following the pandemic, many businesses are adding virtual creativity to the top of their agenda to help reignite human connection and boost employee morale. According to a recent WSJ story,  a national poll found 65 percent of workers who shifted to remote work due to the pandemic said they feel less connected to their colleagues now.

Digital wellness expert Mark Ostach, works to restore energy and team interaction—especially today—as most employees are working virtually and some will be moving to a hybrid work setting in the second half of the year. 

“I’m continuing to get urgent calls from companies about how their teams are growing apart and the need to re-engage,” said Ostach. “Our digital life can be extremely demanding. We communicate at all hours of the day expecting immediate responses. To top things off, many of us are suffering from Zoom fatigue and nearing a state of burnout. My focus is to help reduce digital burnout and encourage empathy and compassion in the workplace.”

Julie Norris, Chief Attorney Development and Recruitment Officer with Honigman LLP, a national law firm headquartered in Detroit, Michigan shared, “We were looking for innovative ways to both connect with each other and be mindful of the importance of disconnecting from work. We hired Ostach to virtually train our attorneys across six different practice groups within Michigan and Chicago. The goal was to reconnect attorneys who were used to being together physically but now were feeling more isolated and disconnected after a year of working virtually.” 

According to Ostach, organizations like Honigman LLP can’t just do business as usual. “This isn’t the time to hold Zoom calls with a packed agenda and zero time for human connection,” said Ostach. “Leaders today need to keep employees motivated by establishing a creative way to invite their team to share more meaningful connections and be open about topics like digital burnout.”

“We were concerned about our employees mental and digital health and wanted to address these topics to help prevent people from burning out,” said Matthew Abbene, VP of Global Sales and Services at Thermo Fisher Scientific. “Ostach’s message was right on the spot for our global audience”

Ostach’s schedule has been busy with virtual training for energy companies, state governmental agencies, and global corporations like Universal Studios, BASF, Thermo Fisher Scientific, AllState, Quicken Loans and Hitachi Vantara. Ostach offers three tips to help businesses reignite human connection when holding a virtual meeting:

  1. Ignite the chat box early

The sooner you can get people engaged in the chat box the better. For larger meetings, ask people to share one thing they are feeling grateful for before the meeting gets started. This helps people break the chat box barrier before the event has begun. It also gives people permission to engage over chat throughout the entire agenda. 

  1. Use breakout rooms when possible

Before reviewing the current quarters KPI’s invite people into a breakout room icebreaker centered around vulnerability. One example of this is a 10-minute exercise called, “If You Really Knew Me”. In small breakout rooms of five to eight people, invite each person to share statements that begin with the phrase, “If you really knew me.” The responses people share may be as simple as “If you really knew me, you’d know that I’m left-handed,” or as vulnerable as, “If you really knew me you’d know that I struggle with seasonal depression.” This often leaves people learning new things about each other and connecting on common grounds they didn’t even know they stood on!

  1. Incorporate a brief virtual activity

Research shows that when we can create a sense of playfulness it can spark our ability to be more creative & collaborative. Take five minutes and incorporate a brief activity into your next virtual meeting. It could be celebratory in nature like making “paper plate awards” for your coworkers or something more lighthearted like playing a brief game of True and/or False. For bonus points, you can even rent a farm animal to join your virtual event for a moment of surprise and delight! 

“Ostach’s authentic style of teaching helped invite vulnerability and human connection into our virtual event. It was exactly what our team needed to feel reconnected to each other,” added Norris.

Digital Wellness Expert Mark Ostach in the News:

Do you Suffer from Return-phobia?

Tips to Ease Anxiety for Back to the Office Return

Survey after survey indicates employees working remotely due to the pandemic are hesitant to return back to the office. Digital wellness expert, Mark Ostach said employees may be suffering from what he calls “Return-Phobia”, heightened social anxiety from leaving the comfort and routine of working at home as they return back into an office. More accurately known as adjustment disorder, this is an emotional or behavioural reaction to a stressful event or change in a person’s life. 

Ostach recommended that remote employees give themselves compassion and patience as going back to the office is similar to the first day of school. 

“The best way for employees to deal with adjustment disorder is to own the awkwardness,” Ostach said. “Also, give yourself quiet time before going to work, either at home or during your commute.”

Ostach, author of  Courage to Connect™, works with business leadership to create a culture of connection in a hybrid workplace. According to Ostach, it may be a challenge to get employees back to the office:

  • Employees have adjusted to working from home and maybe experiencing heightened social anxiety about going back to an office.
  • Remote employees enjoy the benefits of going for a quick walk, doing laundry or not having to commute to work.
  • The key to helping employees adjust back to the office is offering flexibility.

Tips to Transition into the Office:

Ostach offered the following tips for employees dealing with lingering anxiety:

  • Ask for what they need. Don’t conceal what you need to reveal to your employer.
  • Fresh Air and Movement. Just because you are going to the office, make time for fresh air and movement. When you need it not, when your calendar says you need it.
  • Don’t forget to talk to one another. Break the ice with conversation. 

Want to learn more about Return-phobia?

Ostach is available to discuss these issues and others related to remote work, hybrid workplace, creating healthy digital habits at work and home, reducing employer and employee burnout through stress reduction techniques, helping increase productivity and discovering additional resources for organizations to become digitally fit. 

About Mark Ostach

Ostach’s goal is to restore energy and focus to organizations battling modern life’s non-stop pace and growing sense of disconnection. He’s done this with organizations that include Universal Studios, Detroit Pistons, Rocket Mortgage, Comerica, Detroit Regional Partnership, DTE, Consumers, Michigan Economic Development Corp (MEDC), & Honigman, LLP, Thermo Fisher Scientific, BASF, Allstate, HItachi, and others.

Digital Wellness Expert Mark Ostach in the News: