By | Charlie Fletcher
Positive workplace culture is essential to any thriving business. It helps a company and its employees interact in a mutually beneficial way. It also provides clarity on the values underpinning the company’s operations and sets expectations for how all team members should apply them. Importantly, it ensures colleagues can build beneficial relationships. Yet, many of the practices designed to maintain a great workplace culture are geared towards the traditional employment environment.
This is problematic, as there have been significant shifts in how employees interact with the companies for which they work. Hybrid operations are increasingly common, offering a more productive alternative to remote or in-person offices. As such, there aren’t always the same cultural elements found in purely traditional workplaces. If your business has recently started using hybrid practices, you may find this disrupts your usual approach to company culture and the meaningful colleague connections that usually thrive among your workforce.
We’re going to dive a little deeper into how your company can build culture and connectivity in a hybrid work environment.
One of the main ways to improve your company culture to include remote employees is through better communication. When there is miscommunication in a business, this can lead to disrupted productivity, errors, and conflicts between team members. If this happens too often, your company culture could become damaged and even affect your bottom line. It’s vital to make sure you have communication tools and protocols suitable for supporting and enhancing a hybrid work situation.
There are various tools and platforms designed to support communication in remote working practices. However, the key to maintaining your culture in a hybrid situation is to make sure there is a core of consistency. If you have different messaging software for the office and at home, employees can get confused, disconnected from each other, and disengaged. Ensure individuals have similar check-in times with their teams throughout the day via a shared communication platform.
Another vital aspect of catering to employee needs is recognizing the innate human need to socialize. When colleagues spend time away from the office environment, they may not feel involved in the day-to-day chat and interactions. Therefore, it’s wise to implement a set of dedicated online channels for teams and company-wide casual chats. This helps everyone to feel involved and able to make daily connections with one another.
Maintain Schedule Clarity and Consistency
The hybrid approach to work is still relatively new for many people and companies. Without clarity and guidance, there is significant potential for mistakes to occur and issues to bubble beneath the surface. This is especially common with respect to scheduling. If you need a certain amount of people on-site and too many people want to take a remote day, this can fuel conflicts. Therefore, it is vital your business maintains a mindful, clear, and consistent approach to hybrid scheduling.
It’s worth adopting some best practices for managing hybrid office schedules in a fair and practical way. Set consistent standards for circumstances and activities that require mandatory in-office presence. Remember to communicate the reasons for these so your employees don’t rail against what they consider to be arbitrary rules. Often, the most effective way to ensure scheduling consistency for both employees and your customers is to rotate office presence on a team basis rather than with individual members.
Equally, it’s important to ensure employees feel as though they have some control over their remote days or weeks. From a cultural perspective, your employees should have the ability to make adjustments that are conducive to their mental well-being or family circumstances. However, for this to work, there needs to be regular discussions between individual members, teams, and management to ensure employees are equally supported and treated fairly.
Create a Relevant Rewards Program
Reinforcement is a vital aspect of maintaining a positive company culture and brand image, subsequently. Your employees need members of leadership to take the time to confirm that individual efforts have an impact on the success of the business. Part of this, of course, is regular praise and affirmation. This should also be supported by tangible rewards. With hybrid workforces, you need to make efforts to ensure these are relevant for both environments.
Gifting employees with swag can be a good way to provide rewards to keep your employees connected to your brand. This could be team personalized hoodies or bags with the company logo. If you’re gifting company mugs, it’s smart to make them travel-friendly. This way, they can migrate the mug from their home office to the workplace.
Another common reward in offices tends to be providing treats on a Friday afternoon, a birthday celebration, or the end of a project. It’s important for your management to get advance notice on who is going to be out of the office during these times. That way, you can arrange to have lunch, some cupcakes, or other snacks delivered to remote employees’ homes. This keeps everyone feeling connected to the achievements of the business and the lives of their colleagues.
Adapt Your Development Approach
For your employees to feel most connected to your business and its culture, they need to also feel nurtured by it. This is why having a solid development program with clear paths to progression is essential. It’s also important to recognize that this takes additional effort and planning when you are employing a hybrid workforce.
To build core skills, you can create pre-recorded videos to accompany e-learning exercise modules that both in-office and at-home employees can use. For group training sessions where not all members can be in the office, utilizing online collaborative platforms — like virtual whiteboards with video calls — can keep all colleagues meaningfully connected and able to both contribute and learn. With this consistency, nobody gets left behind in development and everyone has equal opportunities to grow.
Another primary focus in development is creating a united front to close skills gaps. Make sure all colleagues have clarity on what skills need to be gained in order to advance. Then, employ a collective effort to achieve the learning goals that help everyone to thrive. Pairing new employees with more experienced colleagues minimizes the productivity disruption from training while also helping employees level up in a meaningful way. Ensure these mentors and learners share hybrid schedules to connect consistently and effectively. When they work remotely, arrange for regular one-to-one video sessions for discussions and further training.
Hybrid working practices can help your business gain the advantages of remote operations and in-office procedures. However, it’s vital to ensure your workplace culture and connections aren’t neglected. Adopt effective communication protocols and arrange scheduling that is consistent and fair. Offer rewards relevant to both environments and make sure your development programs nurture employees of all levels. While hybrid working may be new, prioritizing cultural maintenance can help solve many of the challenges and keep your employees meaningfully connected to your company.