Successfully navigating the hybrid work world

Stephanie Dismore, Managing Director, North America, talks about how to remain intentional and focused at work, while keeping a balance with home life.

By John Newton — March 24, 2022

Stephanie Dismore, Managing Director, North America, has two decades experience with remote and hybrid work. Pre-COVID, she was normally on the road every week. Going to the office meant going all over the country — largely Palo Alto, Houston, Boise, and Toronto, typically visiting those sites at least twice a month.  

Dismore moved into her house in Austin, Texas where she lives with her two children, CJ, 19, and Allie, 18, in 2018. For the past two years, she has been working from her home office which has a look of understated, contemporary warmth (thanks in part to help from Butter Lutz Interiors) and exudes an atmosphere of calm and peace — a balance to the uncertainty that faces many of us in our work lives these days. Dismore brings living color into the space with fresh flowers and pictures of her kids reminds her of “what she is here for.” 

We dropped by recently and asked her to share some tips about how to thrive in a hybrid work environment.

Taking her laptop outdoors helps Dismore reset during long workdays at home.

Jeff Wilson

Taking her laptop outdoors helps Dismore reset during long workdays at home.

Q: What has been the biggest change or learning about this new style of work?

Every single thing in our lives has changed — the way we work, learn, shop, socialize, connect and how we talk to our customers, how we negotiate, how we sell. It is a whole new world and the biggest a-ha for me is how we manage our days. Sitting in this office for eight, 10, 12 hours a day was a daily thing at the beginning of COVID and towards the end of 2020, I realized that is not sustainable.

Q: Do you have any regular home-office routines that you recommend to stay alert and engaged?

I move around to different rooms. I’ll be in my office, my living room, my kitchen. I take my Dragonfly laptop, which I love, to my treadmill and I will walk on as many calls as I can during the day. Just being able to move and take care of my body really improved my whole mental outlook. I also try to get outside as much as possible, especially when the weather is beautiful. It just puts you in a different mindset versus sitting in your home. It’s a matter of being intentional about focusing on your mental health, and what you need, and not just running to the next meeting. 

Q: Hybrid work is a permanent shift, so what is your new approach to communications and relationships at work?

The biggest challenge is relational, especially when the majority of my organization’s and my time is spent meeting with partners, customers, and other team members. Maintaining and building relationships is a different skill set now. When you are not going out to dinner or grabbing a coffee, it requires a different level of energy because of how it feels.

Intentional communication is more important than ever. In the old world we would have water-cooler talks and you could get caught up with people and understand, as a leader, how to support them by understanding their whole life. In a Zoom world or Teams world, you need to be intentional about catching up. Stop and ask people how they are. It is a new skill to learn how to drive engagement. 

Jeff Wilson

Dismore sneaks in some cuddle time with her daughter's chocolate Labrador, Aspen.

Q: Why does clarity about meetings and agendas matter?

When we talk about these back-to-back calls, try as much as possible to be very clear and concise in terms of an agenda. That is always business basics but now we need more than ever to stay focused on sticking to an agenda and accomplishing those goals. 

Q: Do you have any special tips for managers?

Managers should be present. It is so easy to multitask. I have a saying, “Be here now, wherever here is.” When you are in front of a computer, it is so easy to be distracted with IMs and whatever else. For managers to work hard to put the distractions aside and engage with their team is critical. There are things you learn and they provide opportunities for empathetic, authentic leadership and figuring out how to support your team in ways you have never done before.

Recognition. It is easy to get lost in the sea of Zoom and not really recognizing your top talent, big initiatives, and big wins. Calling out people and recognizing their performances are key to an organization’s culture.


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Q: What about employees?

Employees need to communicate as well and make sure their voices are heard and they are talking with their managers. If you are having to take care of an ailing parent or a sick child, just let your manager know what hours you can’t work. An authentic back-and-forth must happen.


The "shattered-glass-ceiling" paperweight that sits atop Dismore's desk.

Jeff Wilson

The "shattered-glass-ceiling" paperweight that sits atop Dismore's desk.

Q: What is the role of technology in all this?

We would not have been as productive as a society, we wouldn’t be able to socialize and work, without technology, laptops, and printers. We wouldn’t be able to work and engage in a face-to-face conversation. The demand has skyrocketed because PCs and printers are central to how we live today and that will continue as we move forward. At HP we are focused on the total experience — it is not just about PCs and print but also solutions around areas like security and conferencing capabilities. Our productivity will get better and better and better.

Q: Are there objects in your office that have special significance?

Flowers and candles: They change your mindset and reset you. I have a picture of my kids, which reminds me what I’m here for, and I also have a picture of a sunrise, which says to me that every day is a new day. Tomorrow is a new day, and it’s coming whether we like it or not.

Q: What about that paperweight?

Karyn Schoenbart, the CEO of market research company NPD, sent this to a bunch of women she works with. When I got it, I thought it broke in the mail — it’s all cracked. And then I read that it says “shattered-glass-ceiling paperweight.” It reminds me that we are in this together and that we have an opportunity to lead.