Psychological Safety in a Hybrid Work Environment – a new Challenge for Managers
Abstract: Several studies have shown psychological safety to be one of the leading factors in creating an effective team. Nevertheless, there is very little academic research studying the challenges that appear in a hybrid work environment or which practices in fostering psychological safety may need to be adapted to create an effective team in such a work environment. With the growing trend of the hybrid work enviroment, this study decided to research what challenges managers have faced in fostering psychological safety, as well as how managers have needed to adapt their prior practices. A qualitative study determined the main challenges and practices needed to foster psychological safety in a hybrid work environment. Different factors have been selected that promote psychological safety based on various researchers. With the help of these factors, challenges and practices were identified. The data collected showed that managers felt an increasing difficulty fostering psychological safety when moving over to a hybrid model. Challenges such as weakened feedback culture, lowered trust, vulnerability, self-awareness, communication, and collaboration, made it increasingly difficult for managers to create an effective team. Through trial and error, managers found adaptations to existing practices. They noticed that structuring work processes and meetings, using digital tools, workshops, and more informal meetings considerably eased their process of fostering psychological safety. Nevertheless, hybrid working environment are still considered new and relatively unexplored. The future will tell what researchers will find out regarding psychological safety and which practices will become established thanks to the learning process.
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