By Louise Fraser, People & Culture Director.
How can I maintain, and even positively impact company culture while working in a hybrid environment?
It’s a question I get asked a lot as a People and Culture Director and it seems to be a topic at nearly every HR event. Below are six practical tips that have worked for me and I hope you find useful.
While there are many benefits of hybrid working, it’s not a straightforward model to figure out — from deciding whether to make certain office days compulsory to adopting remote work technologies, onboarding new employees and setting new work standards. After at least a year of hybrid working, you’ve likely already sorted through the administrative tasks and ironed out the logistics. But, have you thought about your company culture?
While getting to grips with a new way of working, it’s easy to let company culture slide. So, how do you maintain company culture in a hybrid or even fully remote working environment? When employees are spread across different locations, countries and continents — how can you still get the benefits that used to come with regular face-to-face interactions?
In 2023, creating a culture that allows employees to thrive while working both in the office and remotely will be imperative to a business's overall success.
6 tips for maintaining company culture in hybrid work environments
Here are some practical steps to ensure your workplace culture continues thriving in a hybrid environment.
1. Have a clear purpose and vision
Leaders need to be transparent about what the company is aiming for and what it will take to get there. Ensure that you’re regularly reporting back on progress to all team members. Everyone needs to feel part of the journey and understand where they fit in.
Ensure to encourage all employees to understand how their work impacts the team and company. Everyone must understand the importance of their role in the company’s success.
2. Define your culture and communicate it
Make sure everyone knows your company values, what defines your culture and how you work. It’s easier to preserve your company culture when everyone’s on the same page.
An effective way to do this is to create a slide deck that incorporates core elements of your company's culture and then communicate it regularly throughout the company. This should also form part of your onboarding process for all new employees.
3. Communicate boundaries & be flexible
While working flexibility is one of the major advantages of hybrid working, it needs to come with boundaries. Otherwise, it could swing either way: employees work too little or too much.
Make sure to communicate a clear message about the importance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Also, be proactive in reassuring team members that it's good to switch off once the work is done.
Boundaries can be hard to set in a hybrid environment. But not having them can lead to burnout. Leaders need to remain flexible and consider the individual needs of the team.
4. Create a thorough onboarding process (and seek feedback)
A thorough onboarding process is essential for new employees — especially those unlikely to meet their new colleagues in person for a while.
New joiners need to feel included and understand the company culture from the start. A good idea is to develop a programme that instils company culture from the get-go. And get new joiners to meet as many people in the business as possible through virtual coffees and catch-ups. That way, they’ll quickly get to know who’s responsible for what and where to go for assistance.
5. Make wellness and mental health a priority
The pandemic brought the importance of mental health to light in a massive way. And, as we continue hybrid working, companies need to provide support and resources for employees through mental health benefits and regular check-ins to monitor their overall sense of wellbeing.
Implementing initiatives that promote health and wellbeing, such as gym memberships and mindfulness sessions, is also a good idea.
6. Encourage collaboration
Collaboration and building team spirit takes on a different look in hybrid work environments — but they can be just as effective. Explore different ways of engaging your team and encouraging collaboration — not just on work.
Virtual quizzes, cooking classes and weekly team coffee catch-ups are a few fun ideas. You can also create virtual employee communities to allow space for team members to connect on things they’re interested in. Implementing initiatives that promote health and wellbeing, such as gym memberships and mindfulness sessions, is also a good idea.
Company culture is more than a nice to have
Maintaining a healthy company culture requires more effort in a hybrid work environment. It will not happen automatically, and it’s almost impossible to develop a positive culture by default. But, by consistently putting in the effort to establish and maintain healthy working conditions, your team will continue to thrive.
Watch our webinar, The Work-Life Imbalance for practical tips from a business psychologist on how to provide employees with the support they need.