The hybrid work place is here. How do we create a good culture?
At the hybrid work place, where we combine remote work with working at the physical office, there is a risk that you can’t build the culture you want. During the pandemic we have seen many organizations working remotely, who also experience that they can’t build or maintain their organizational culture.
The hybrid work place is probably here to stay, and with it, many are concerned about how to build and maintain their culture. Culture is a collection of behavioral patterns which traditionally have taken shape when people meet physically, and often at the physical office. A common saying is that the “culture is in the walls”. With two physical environments for your team – one when working remotely and one when you meet in the office, several different sub culture can emerge in your organization.
One might think that this is not a big problem, but in the long term it can be devastating with different sub cultures in an organization. In the long run some teams might feel left outside, and you can get a feeling of working in different companies or organizations.
Here are 4 ways to build a good culture in the hybrid work place:
1. Provide opportunities for different teams to meet
A study published in Harvard Business Review showed that communication between people working closely together increased with 40% after lockdown, at the expense of 10% less communication between colleagues who did not work that closely.
At the hybrid work place, this is reinforced. The walls between our silos have become thicker, and it increases the risk of different cultures developing within the same company or organization.
We actively need to work with different touch points between teams and colleagues who do not normally work that closely together.
This can be achieved through cross functional meetings, when seeing each other physically or online. It can be different forums for sharing knowledge and information (e.g. leader forums (in Swedish), market information meetings, lunch and learns, etc).
2. Create channels for real feedback
As we wrote in the blog post about advantages and disadvantages with a hybrid work place, this way of working is new to most people. We simply have to try our way forward and learn as we go.
To ensure that we are doing the right things, feedback is incredibly important: “What do we think about this?”, “What works well and what can we do differently?”.
You can definitely add questions to your platform for pulse surveys, but the most important thing is to discuss and talk about the hybrid work place.
What does your team really think about working in a hybrid environment? What would they like to see changed or improved?
The most efficient (and admittedly also most time consuming) way to do this is to have one-to-one meetings with your coworkers. Even if it takes a little time it is well invested, not only when it comes to the hybrid work place.
In the one-to-one meeting you can ask specific questions, follow up to clarify, and better understand what the person thinks and feels. It also becomes a forum to support your coworker and pick up signals in time.
3. Decide that working remotely is your new default
It will be very difficult to have different processes, information and communication channels or meetings depending on whether you meet remotely or physically in the office.
Set up your channels, structure, processes, communication tools and your leadership (here you can find everything you need to lead remotely (in Swedish)) as if everyone always work remotely.
If working remotely becomes your new default, everyone can choose how they want to participate in meetings, how to seek information, how to share ideas, etc.
You obviously need to meet physically as well, but the normal should be that you can always choose to be part of the team and your work remotely.
4. Make the office your new “offsite”
McKinsey observed different behaviors in the hybrid work place, and one reflection was that the office is our new place to meet “offsite”. Instead of going to a conference facility, you meet up in the office to reflect, share ideas and do networking.
So instead of just meeting in the office to work as usual, why not making sure that there is time and opportunity to really work with the team while you are there. Some examples of what you can do:
- Set off one day per month to work with people that you do not usually work with. It can for instance be coworkers from different teams. Give them a purpose and a task that benefits your culture and your business.
- Schedule a physical meeting a few times per year only to reflect and share ideas, to learn from each other.
- Book a team building activity each month. E.g. an after work or a common lunch.
The hybrid work place can be devastating for your culture. But if you actively work with the culture, reflect, learn, and perhaps use some of the ideas above, you will surely make the hybrid work place functioning well, and get your culture to prosper.