In 2020, the shift to remote work was abrupt and caught most organizations off guard. At the time, managers and company leaders rightly focused on the immediate needs of making sure employees had access to files and could communicate.
Today, as some employees return to the office and others remain off-site, employers are navigating a new challenge: the hybrid work environment.
A Hybrid Workplace Will Affect Your Culture
Concerned about maintaining company culture in a hybrid work environment? A study from SHRM showed that 65% of employers are having difficulty maintaining employee morale, and the move to a hybrid model is causing unforeseen challenges for many organizations.
Now that companies and employees have adapted to the technical challenges of a hybrid workplace, it’s time to address the challenges of maintaining a healthy workplace culture in this new hybrid environment.
Maintaining company culture in the hybrid workplace is vital to the performance of your business, and according to McKinsey, companies with a healthy culture create 3x greater returns for shareholders. This post explores intelligent ways your company can be more intentional about creating culture during this still evolving shift. Here are ELI’s top 6 tips for how to maintain company culture in a hybrid work environment.
1. Communicate Regularly
When your entire team is at the office, you take communication for granted. Small interactions happen all day, and team members can get quick answers to questions. While you may not have been having formal meetings every day, a tremendous amount of information was constantly being shared. To allow for this sharing and maintain communication in a hybrid workplace, it’s a good idea to have frequent and quick virtual ‘stand-up’ meetings on a more regular basis.
These stand-ups can be informal meetings, with the goal being to have your hybrid workforce communicate in a more purposeful way. This is especially important for remote workers who interact with on-site employees as divisions can arise. These quick, daily meetings will open the lines of communication and create accountability for on- and off-site team members.
2. Leadership is Vital
Leadership has always been a critical factor in creating culture, but that is exponentially more essential in a hybrid work environment. Proactively addressing culture requires a constant focus from executives and managers. In years past, the culture would naturally happen at the office, but unhealthy cultures and divisions today can grow seemingly out of sight in the remote or hybrid workplace.
Additionally, managers must buy in and demonstrate the healthy cultural development they want to see in their team members. As a role model, it’s essential for leaders not to abuse remote privileges, work to be inclusive of all employees, and stay positive about the challenges of working in the hybrid model.
3. Technology Investments
The initial move to a hybrid workplace saw an immediate demand for increased bandwidth, enhanced audio and video quality, and cloud-based access to the software. Today, proactive organizations are looking beyond the basics and are seeking ways to improve culture through technology. A breakdown in technology can harm workplace morale and lead to increased turnover.
To manage the number of employees at the office, many companies are looking to Hoteling software. These SASS applications allow employees to book a desk, conference room, or office resources in the way they would book a hotel. The ability to easily reserve space encourages employees to come into the office and allows employers to optimize the workplace and control expenses better.
4. Make the Most of Time Together
When your workforce is split between virtual and in-person, it’s vital to make the most of your time when everyone is together. While this used to be a daily occurrence, having your entire time at the office or an event is now rare and how you use that time should be carefully considered.
Instead of using group meetings on tasks that can be accomplished in a hybrid environment, optimize your time for interactions enhanced by person-to-person contact. A focus on culture-building activities during these times is critical to show your team how vital the work culture is to your company.
5. Be Alert for New Divisions
As employees return to the office, many organizations are experiencing a rise in the division between off-site and in-office personnel.
The constant and natural interactions of the in-office teams can inadvertently create two groups of workers. When employees feel left out or isolated from the group, you can start to see damage to your employee morale and unity.
In addition to cultural damage, these divisions can result in a subtle form of discrimination against workers who have chosen to remain off-site. Managers need to lead in this area and work to prevent these divisions from occurring.
6. Increased Feedback
In a hybrid work environment, it is much harder to see trends or shifts in your culture. As a result of this dynamic, leaders need to be proactive about asking team members how they are doing and what they are feeling.
Anonymous polling tools or dedicated one-on-ones to gauge the cultural environment may have been unnecessary in the past. But in today’s hybrid workplace they can play a critical role in identifying problems before they surface.
Hybrid Workplaces: The Path Forward
While no one predicted such a sudden shift to a hybrid model, the change has happened, and it’s up to managers and leaders to maintain company culture.
While this adjustment does have its challenges, it’s also a chance to reframe and address your culture.
At ELI, we help our clients build healthy workplace cultures through our Civil Treatment Workplace learning solutions. If you want to address culture as your team adjusts to a hybrid work environment, we encourage you to explore our Civil Treatment Workplace for Leaders program or request a demo to view our resources firsthand.
Now is the time to take action and boost the culture and bottom line of your organization.