What does culture look like in a hybrid world?

When we think about workplace culture we think about a common set of behaviours and values that impact every aspect of the business. With the majority of businesses now adopting hybrid working models, knowing how to maintain team culture can be a challenge.

Here, Lisa Hawksworth, senior consultant at employee engagement consultancy scarlettabbott, explores what culture looks like in a hybrid working environment and some of the ways to maintain it.

In the early days of the pandemic, remote working certainly took some getting used to. Boundaries blurred between when the workday started and finished, and teams adapted to a completely new set of processes.

As time progressed and this became the ‘new normal’, the majority successfully adjusted and employees realised the benefits of greater flexibility. A recent McKinsey report found that many employees are now seeking a better work-life balance, wanting their organisation to offer a mix of remote working and office time going forward.

Some business leaders remain reluctant to embrace this change, citing an erosion of culture and a lack of collaboration, however this could result in them losing their top talent.

Take time to listen

No two businesses are the same and what suits one might not suit another. It’s important to remember that this is unchartered territory and may take some time to get used to. There’s a number of hybrid models to consider and every business will have a different set of goals.

Firms have to decide what they mean by hybrid working and what it looks like in practice. Does it mean work where you want, or does it mean a mix of office-based and remote working?

With teams returning to the office, it’s important to obtain regular feedback and act on it, or re-qualify expectations wherever possible. This could be on anything from working patterns, to processes, meeting etiquette or even how to optimise collaboration.

Your people are the cornerstones of your culture. Now is the time to listen, shape, and set expectations as to what is practical or possible. Without genuine listening you risk your desired culture and your people diverging and potentially result in some choosing to look elsewhere. 
Don’t underestimate the importance of key milestones

Culture is a manifestation of our experiences, and the stories we tell ourselves. Consider this in the context of key milestones; of recruitment, onboarding, rewards and progression.

During the pandemic, many organisations took the challenge head on and excelled in the virtual space. While some are considering re-embracing the face-to-face space, others are putting time and effort to make virtual work, work.

New starter packs posted to home, immersive virtual onboarding experiences and virtual face to face time with the team can all make the overall onboarding process a far more engaging and useful process – and set the tone of your culture.

Navigating networks

Research shows that during the pandemic, professional and personal networks shrunk by 16 per cent and a big focus for many is navigating how they can rebuild their professional networks in a hybrid world.

For those seeking to climb the career ladder and impress senior teams, returning to the office on a daily basis may have been deemed a good way to climb the ranks, with research indicating that in-person workers are more likely to get promoted.

In a hybrid world, presenteeism to progress cannot be the case. Consider, and listen to your people, about how it works in your world, and what processes or behaviours may need to shift to level the playing field between the remote, and the office based.

But don’t forget the social, and how networks can help your people feel that they belong. In-person collaboration events could be a great opportunity for colleagues that rarely spend time in the office together to connect just as much as well facilitated virtual sessions. It’s fundamental here to define the purpose of these networks and sessions. Set expectations up front about what they’re for and how they work for virtual and office-based team members, and make a concerted effort to include everyone.

To find out how scarlettabbott could help your business develop team culture, visit https://scarlettabbott.co.uk/.

Author: Editorial Team

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