The 6 C’s To Create A Thriving Hybrid Culture
March 18, 2022
In forward-thinking companies, building a strong workplace culture has always been a core part of business strategy. From decades of research, we’ve seen how positive corporate climates have been shown to improve employee engagement, enhance revenue growth and increase profitability.
While most executives recognize the value of a great culture, many businesses have held off on making major changes to modify it for the virtual workspace. Instead, they may have made temporary adjustments while holding on to the hope that we’d all return to the office, which people tend to associate with a stronger sense of community. The truth is that most companies are not going back to the old way of working, and it’s time to adapt in earnest.
72% of business leaders anticipate adopting a hybrid model well after the pandemic, so it’s important that organizations take the time to define what they want their workplace to look like, feel like and sound like in a flexible environment. To better support your staff, I encourage you to reflect on six aspects of a motivating, productive culture.
6 Culture Considerations for Hybrid Organizations
Effective two-way communication is critical. When your staff receive transparent information and can share feedback that will be heard, they are more likely to feel engaged, included and empowered. However, many leaders still seem biased toward face-to-face communication. As you evaluate your climate, assess how well information flows across various teams and levels in your organization. Look for roadblocks to transparency and analyze the processes and structures you have in place to help executives, managers and employees communicate effectively in asynchronous environments.
In a flexible workplace, collaboration can be challenging, particularly when it comes to brainstorming and problem solving. If your people don’t have the tools to overcome this obstacle, individuals may feel isolated, disengaged and powerless, especially when it comes to decision-making. To make sure that staff can contribute productively, evaluate your collaboration tools as well as your cultural norms and values to make teamwork a central part of the employee experience. Even examining meeting protocols to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to share their voice can contribute to better coordination.
78% of business leaders report that office workers are more connected to their colleagues than remote team members. While relationship building may be easier in person, you can still create a strong community in a hybrid climate. When staff members feel connected to their colleagues and trust them, they are more likely to put in greater effort, work together toward productive solutions and give one another autonomy when appropriate, which is essential to productivity. Support your workplace by nurturing a shared sense of purpose. Make time for structured and unstructured hybrid team building events and set the expectation for managers to check in on their direct reports and teams regularly.
In a hybrid work environment, many employees are putting in longer hours and the lines between home and work life continue to blur. When that distinction starts to deteriorate, it can have negative impacts on our team members’ mental and physical wellbeing. It can also contribute to a greater possibility for burnout. That means the way we support our people needs to look a little different than in prior years. Evaluate your wellness programs to ensure they encompass more than just physical wellbeing. I also invite you to empower individuals to set boundaries and examine your policies to define specific off-hours and include paid time off for mental health days.
It’s common for colleagues to lose visibility into one another’s work and miss out on all the great things staff members are accomplishing when they are in different locations. To be clear, I’m not championing micromanagement. What I am advocating for is acknowledging the work that is going on across your company. By naming and noting each person’s contributions, team members feel recognized and coworkers stay connected on projects. Consider what mechanisms you have in place to celebrate individuals and identify opportunities to help managers proactively acknowledge the productivity of their direct reports. It can also be useful to analyze the systems that groups are using to support project management and enhance alignment.
In-office employees are more likely to get promoted and receive regular raises than their remote counterparts. That can pose a real challenge given the impact that learning, development and advancement have on employee engagement. To adopt a more inclusive approach, consider your performance management tools to create a more equitable evaluation and promotion process. Identify opportunities for Human Resources and Learning & Development teams to get involved with managers to help them support career advancement as well as skill building. I also invite you to create intentional growth plans to promote professional development within your organization.
1 Quick Win to Get Started
After reviewing this list and considering the transformations your business has gone through, you may have many ideas about how you could start to improve your climate. To begin, my first recommendation is to listen.
While leaders may have all sorts of thoughts about what the culture is or should be, the best way to get actionable feedback is to start by talking to the employees who are experiencing it every day. Take time to survey your staff or have some internal focus groups designed to:
- Understand differences between stated values or norms and the actual employee experience
- Identify success stories from groups who are excelling in a hybrid environment
- Recognize where there are opportunities for improvement
Once you see the strengths and gaps in your desired culture, you can establish goals, create a plan and begin to chip away at tangible objectives that will transform your workplace for the better.