For some, the past year has served as a harsh reminder that expensive coffee machines, free gym memberships, and dress down Fridays are hardly the epitome of company culture.
A hybrid workplace is arguably the future of work, or at the very least a model that will be around for a long time. But what effect does this have on company culture?
Company culture has always been difficult to establish and maintain, and the adoption of new working models has only amplified the challenge. Leaders should seize this opportunity to contribute to reinventing the future of work.
To maintain a healthy and cohesive working environment, companies need to get raw about what culture means to them and how to maintain it if they want to retain employees in a hybrid workplace.
The importance of company culture in a hybrid work model
Firstly, it’s important to accept that a hybrid workplace will impact culture. A SHRM report found that 65% of companies are having trouble retaining employee morale, and the transition to a hybrid model is posing unexpected hurdles.
To avoid long-term damage, employers must address the challenges of maintaining a healthy culture in this new hybrid work model. You need to ensure that you provide fairness of experience to both remote and office teams to foster inclusivity and make everyone feel like a “full” employee.
Maintaining company culture in the hybrid workplace is critical to the success of your business, and McKinsey reports that companies with a positive culture generate 3x higher returns for shareholders.
How to build and maintain a strong company culture in a hybrid workplace:
You should create conditions that reinforce a sense of belonging to the company, inspire involvement, and allow personal growth and independence while preserving responsibility and accountability to build a strong company culture.
Here are five ways to keep company culture alive in a hybrid workplace:
- Be Inclusive
Employees’ work preferences, needs and limitations must be equally acknowledged and appreciated. One common concern expressed by remote workers is that their contributions won’t be regarded as highly as those of office workers. According to a study by the Office for National Statistics, “remote workers are doing almost double the overtime of their non-remote counterparts, yet are significantly less likely to be promoted or receive bonuses.” In a hybrid work environment, you need to be inclusive of employees’ contributions and focus on their impact and results rather than where they are located.
One way to accomplish this is to keep communications online and to hold staff meetings virtually. This shows that everyone’s voice is equally important, reinforcing a sense of shared purpose.
- Frequently Provide Feedback
It’s considerably more difficult to spot patterns or shifts in your culture in a hybrid workplace. Therefore, employers need to make it a priority to regularly ask team members about how they’re doing and how they’re feeling. Methods such as anonymous polling tools or dedicated one-on-ones can assist you in gauging the cultural environment and identifying issues before they arise.
Employees want to feel appreciated at work, so praise, recognition and feedback are vital. Small gestures like an in-person “thank you,” handwritten notes, presents, and acknowledgement in front of co-workers ranked highly in numerous reports on the most desired types of employee acknowledgement. These small acts go a long way toward showing employees that they are valued.
- Establish company traditions during the year
Try to schedule company gatherings and celebrations throughout the year. For example, you could organise a yearly in-person meetup where all employees get to chat face to face and know one another. This is a great bonding activity that allows for genuine connections and exchanges. Even if this doesn’t happen often, the impact it has on relationships can be long lasting.
On a smaller scale, set up small fun activities and competitions for both remote and in-office employees. These can be done virtually such as cocktail making sessions over zoom and even a light-hearted awards ceremony to recognise individual’s accomplishments. By doing so, you ensure that all employees, regardless of their location, have a shared experience.
- Technology Investments
When the initial shift to a hybrid workplace began, there was an instant demand for more bandwidth, improved audio and video quality and cloud-based software access. Today’s innovative businesses are going beyond the essentials for methods to improve culture through technology. A technological failure can lower employee morale and increase turnover.
You should provide remote employees with all necessary technologies and tools so that they have complete access to all resources and can create their best work. This gives an equal playing field for all employees because they have access to the same technology and resources as in-office employees.
Employees want to connect and gain knowledge from leaders. As both parties learn from one other, these interactions lead to mutual growth. Mentors assist employees in making connections and expanding their professional networks, opening more possibilities for social interaction and development.
A workplace mentoring programme benefits both the company and the individuals involved. You can attract and retain top talent by providing opportunities for personal and professional development in their roles, which increases retention. Social interactions help employees learn more from one another and become more engaged with their work, which is especially important in a hybrid workplace where a lack of physical presence can restrict interactions.
The Future of Work
It’s not a question of remote vs. in-person employment in the future; rather, it’s about how businesses will adopt hybrid workplace models that combine the best of both worlds.
To build and maintain a strong company culture, it comes down to focusing on the common goals of the company and valuing people. This can be accomplished by creating an inclusive environment, providing regular feedback, developing company traditions, supplying people with the tools they need to do their jobs, and creating a mentorship space for growth and development.
Hybrid workplaces are the way of the future. Those who learn how to build great company cultures will be the ones we look to for inspiration in the future.
If you’re looking to make your next strategic hire, get in touch with our specialist consultants who can help you with your hiring needs. Their extensive network of E-commerce and RetailTech talent have worked in remote, in-office, and hybrid roles. Find out more about the functions we work in here.