This week in our series of articles focused on Hybrid work, Malcolm Follos looks at changing hybrid work behaviour through Behaviour Nudging.

This article provides with a framework to help you change your hybrid work behaviour, so change may happen and organisational change can be implemented.

You have embedded psychological biases that pre-determine how you respond to familiar situations. Deciding to read this blog for example, some will read on, some will not. The decision you take is driven by your curiosity and perceived value biases. It is that simple.

For the curious who have clicked through, I will briefly explain the MINDSPACE framework, first developed by Paul Dolan, professor in behavioural science at the London School of Economics and neatly brought to life in the book ‘Ripple – by Jez Groom and April Vellacott. Here it is applied to changing hybrid work behaviour, so change may happen.

MINDSPACE – changing hybrid work behaviour

MINDSPACE is a mnemonic, standing for Messenger; Incentives; Norms; Defaults; Salience; Priming; Affect; Commitment and Ego.

This acronym explains the idea generation framework used to simplify the 9 behavioural science principles that underpin organisational change. For Change Leaders and Change Makers these 9 principles contain insights that will help you understand how to nudge and change hybrid work behaviour in your own organisation.

The M is for the Messenger

You are heavily influenced by who communicates the message to you. This is why ‘celebrity’ endorsements is a multi-million dollar industry! If you have a change message to land make sure you give it someone with genuine credibility within your organisation to lead the change.

The I is for Incentives

Your response to incentives are shaped by predictable mental short-cuts, such as your desire to avoid loss. Therefore, if you understand what can be lost by not moving to the new behaviour then lead with this as an incentive. Loss avoidance is far more powerful than showing what can be gained. Remember your pains from non-hybrid work habits.

The N is for Norms

You tend to adopt the behaviour of those you see around you as you follow and comply with the social group with whom you believe you are part. Take a look at a crowd of football supporters and see how body language is copied around the crowd. Using nudges that are representative of the ‘crowd’ you are aiming at, can have a multiplier effect on the impact you make. Research is showing that 70% of workers would choose a hybrid work environment. Now it is up to the organisation to see how to make it work for the best for all.

The D is for Defaults

We all have a tendency to stick to the default option as this is just easier to do. For example asking people to ‘opt-out’ and then ask them to explain why, will encourage the majority of us to simply ‘opt-in’. Make the new behaviour a whole lot easier than the current behaviour and, hey presto, it becomes a new habit. Just remember the time saved by not commuting.

The S is for Salience.

Your attention will focus on what appears novel yet is familiar to you. The Change Leader challenge is to make the change message impactful, yet somehow familiar. Therefore because hybrid working was forced on you, now it is a choice to make it work.

The P is for Priming

Your sub-conscious cues often influenced your acts. Present the change messages in a way that primes the outcome you desire. For example on a food product label, ‘80% fat free’ is far more appealing than ‘contains 20% fat’.

The A is for Affect

Your emotions play a significant part in your behaviour. Stimulate the desired emotional response and the behaviours will follow. This is why Balfour Beatty’s ‘Zero harm’ health and safety campaign put pictures of children on motorway roadworks informing us that their ‘Dad works here’. After that, the the revised speed limit did work.

The C is for Commitment

You tend to seek to be consistent with your public promises and reciprocate acts. If you are leading a change say what you intend to do differently and ask others to commit to their own behaviour change too. You are ‘all in this together’ feeling will help build commitment to any large scale behaviour change.

Finally, the E is for Ego

Put simply, you will be attracted to behaviour change that makes you feel good about yourself. This is why so much of the advertising around expensive, luxury brands is in this emotional, aspirational ‘feel-good’ space. The challenge for Change Leaders is to position the hybrid work behaviour nudge in such a way that the new behaviour has an Ego payback. In the Metro stations, the ‘fat stick man’ floor signage leading towards the escalator and the ‘thin stick man’ signage pointing towards the stairs, is a great example of this in practice.

MINDSPACE can assist you to change your hybrid work behaviour

This MINDSPACE framework can be deployed to change your hybrid work behaviour in a small ideation team in around 50 minutes. This typically generates around 45 to 50 ideas, more if you have Game Changer / Strategists in the group. Selecting those ideas that have the biggest impact takes about a further 10 mins. This means that in around an hour you can develop insights that will help you nudge your hybrid work behaviours towards your desired state.

Interested in learning more? Then get in touch.

Malcolm Follos

Or email Malcolm here