A hybrid culture is a work environment with a mix of employees working on-site while others work remotely as well as a mix of both. This splitting of time between on-site and remote has become more common as we emerge from the global pandemic.
But more importantly, how do these new work arrangements impact culture – the lifeblood of your organization?
The Move to Hybrid
During the pandemic, many organizations realized the benefits that come from occasional or full-time remote work arrangements. Remote work has proven that productivity does not mandate an in-office presence.
In fact, productivity can increase up to 13% by working remotely and 73% of employees continue to desire a remote option. Still, in-person collaboration, socializing with coworkers, and the ability to focus on work all rank highly among reasons to come into the office. And while 75% of executives expect that at least half of their employees will be back in office by July 2021, roughly one-third are concerned about how to adapt their culture for the hybrid workplace.
Hybrid Work Requires Hybrid Culture
The role of culture in the hybrid workplace should be to drive the mindset and behaviors that encourage both in-office and remote employees to stay healthy, happy, productive, and aligned with the organization’s goals. But tools, policies, and processes aren’t enough. TO truly embrace hybrid work requires thoughtful consideration of a hybrid culture.
Key Elements of an Empowered Hybrid Work Culture
1. Positive Work-Life Balance
The expectations of employees have increased significantly over the past several years and 54% report feeling overworked. Generation Z (the youngest of the workforce at 18-24 years old) is being hit hard — 60%say they are struggling. Collectively, we are spending more time each day in virtual meetings, on chats/messages, and on emails — collectively, this constant technological connection can be overwhelming and leads directly to burnout.
People are also fighting additional battles outside work that others cannot see. In the office it is easy and natural to ask, “how are you?” and notice signs of stress in others. This leads to a higher chance of in-office teams talking about their issues and creating connection while alleviating stress and feeling heard.
Remote teams do not have as many opportunities, and managers who actively prioritize work-life balance are more likely to see the big picture surrounding their teams and can then start to address issues – both personal and professional.
After all, we feel a stronger connection to work when we are more closely connected to one another.
2. Empowered Accountability
We believe that accountability is a personal choice to rise above circumstances and demonstrate the ownership needed to reach our goals — acting on our responsibilities. People managers within organizations play a critical role in creating a positive culture of accountability.
To achieve this in a hybrid culture, managers need to ensure all employees align with the goals and engage in establishing the strategy to create a connection with their work. This touches on several aspects of leadership:
- Empathy: Managers should acknowledge that some employees may be concerned about returning to the office and take measures to make them feel as safe as possible. Employees may also wonder if managers who they rely on for support will be in the office. People managers should make it a point to be accessible to these employees, which can help boost productivity.
- Communication: Establishing expectations for the way communication tools are used can help improve the way information is shared and engagement levels. In addition to communicating clearly defined goals, establishing a regular cadence to give and receive feedback in a hybrid culture bolsters feelings of trust and inclusiveness, helps managers adjust priorities, and inspires employees to produce their best work.
- Inclusivity: It is crucial to keep a level playing field between remote and on-site individuals and teams. Seeking out and acting upon input from remote workers lets them know their voice counts as much as those on-site. If your entire workforce feels truly valued and that their perspectives are being considered, they will be more on board with the strategy in place and incentivized to go the extra mile toward not only their goals but the organization’s key results as well.
People have a deep-seed desire to see purpose in their work. In a hybrid culture, this is directly tied to how connected they feel to others as well as the impact your organization is making in the world. People managers are critical to influencing the conditions that make people on their teams feel this people + work connectedness. One crucial area of influence from managers is prioritization – making sure priorities are clearly defined and understood by their team helps everyone stay aligned and pursuing the key results of the organization.
It is important for people managers to make themselves available to their team and be proactive about assessing and adjusting priorities in order to help their team feel connected. Less experienced team members may prefer to be in the office more often to receive direct support from managers. New hires working remotely are 20%more reliant on their managers during the onboarding process and 1.2xmore likely to feel their work is connected to their team’s success in an environment with accessible leadership.
How communication is managed (email vs. instant messaging vs. virtual meetings) as well as how integrated communication platforms are with other digital tools also play a part. These factors all affect passion for work, well-being, and connectedness. Teams may feel siloed, so creating wide-reaching or even company-wide virtual events can serve as a reminder to everyone that they are very much part of the whole.
4. Equal Opportunity
With some employees opting to work remotely indefinitely, it is paramount that a hybrid culture provides them with the same professional development, career advancement, and personal growth opportunities as those who choose to work in the office. Doing so helps remote employees feel equally valuable as their on-site counterparts and included in the long-term business strategy.
Similarly, ensuring people managers are also working remotely (on a rotational basis, for example) will send a clear message to remote employees that working from home does not affect their chances of a promotion. Providing equal opportunities to all employees, remote or not, helps increase retention and promote overall business stability.
What Does Your Hybrid Culture Look Like?
How is your organization approaching hybrid culture? We would love to hear about best practices that can help others build a happier and healthier work environment.
Hybrid Culture: How to Turn Challenges into Growth Opportunities
Learn how to create a positive hybrid culture to support hybrid work and build accountability that connects your people to the business growth you need.