One of the drawbacks of having a hybrid or remote work environment is that you lose some of the culture that is imminent when we are face to face with our co-workers and employers. Some of these things include company traditions, parties, events and meetings that generally tend to be easier to organize and host when in-person. If a business has been forced to or chose to go hybrid, it’s important to establish how you will build a unified culture at your office that supports inclusivity, honesty and transparency.
This all starts with understanding that the first thing to make sure of is that communication is frequent and clear throughout the week. “A hybrid workforce has many advantages. Talent pools are greater and companies have a wider reach, but without solid communication in your team you’ll have a more difficult time feeling unified in your decisions,” says Jared Hines, Head of Operations at Acre Gold. “Weekly video calls with your team for updates, procedure changes or any company changes are essential in a hybrid format.”
This is important even when meetings feel small. It’s easy for employees to feel like they are on an island without threads of regular communication. “If you have a lot of team members working alone on tasks, you run a higher risk of employees feeling isolated and unsupported. In a hybrid model, it can be smart to set up partners and collaborations between departments. If your team is working together towards a common goal, they’ll feel more respected and confident about the work they’re doing,” said Matt Woods, Co-Founder and CEO of Sold.com.
Employees have been pleading with industries for years to take the balance between work and life seriously. Now, it seems that businesses are starting to listen. Evan Zhao, Co-Founder and CEO of Revela had this to say on the topic, “The hybrid model has shown us that all employees need better work-life balance. This means that your team members should feel like their personal lives are both respected and considered with work expectations. When employees feel stressed about the time they spend at work, it can easily lead to burnout which is a huge contributor to employee turnout.”
Hybrid work models have amplified the need for businesses to respect and understand their team members’ lives outside of work. But it’s also important to get along and get to know each other while at work. “Creating a culture at work is about allowing personalities to mesh and people to express themselves to each other,” offers Brand Director of Healist Naturals Sarah Pirrie. “Successful hybrid workplaces will include weekly activities that employees can do together that help build connections, but aren’t necessarily about work tasks. Have new employees schedule meet and greets with established team members. This will help any employee feel like they are part of a team and valued as an individual.”
This type of work model allows employees to live and work with a greater sense of self. The ability to live closer to family, friends and in parts of the country more suited to their finances. This has been a wonderful option for many companies to continue working with their most reliable employees regardless of location. Judy Nural, President and Founder of MicrodermaMitt says, “Hybrid work formats can allow workers to live in areas closer to their families and where expenses are less. This may not be ideal for every employee, but it’s a wonderful opportunity to embrace the different cultures and locations that are present in your company. This will also create a sense of loyalty in your team that they bring more to the table than their proximity to the office.”
Work life balance is important, but it’s not always interpreted the right way. “Work life balance is about not only prioritizing both parts of your life, but taking care of each part as well,” says Kevin Gibbs of Quip. “That means taking care of yourself both on and off the job. When you’re at work, you meet the expectations of your company and supervisors, but know your rights when it comes to how long you’re on the job for or what is outside of those expectations.”
Reform Company Traditions
Your weekly meetings and company events are an important part of the culture in your company. This is how you communicate with and show appreciation to your employees. When working in a hybrid format, you’ll need to make sure these things happen over mediums that all members of your team can participate in. “Whatever you have going on for your company, whether it’s a meeting, event or workplace activity, make sure your hybrid team members are part of it too. It’s important to reform the way your company deals with traditions and incentives so that everyone feels like they can participate in company culture,” said Jeremy Gardner, CEO of MadeMan.
These virtual meetings and events are where your team can hear about company milestones and achievements. If this was done in a particular way when you were all in person, you’ll need to reformat how these meetings and traditions take place. Scott Stonneborn, Co-Founder of Tydo had these thoughts to share, “Think about how you can form new traditions as a company to more effectively include your remote team members. If you had specific ways of showing praise or announcing milestones, you may need to adjust how you celebrate those events based on who is in the office and who isn’t.”
Adding to your company culture should be a diverse workplace with a multitude of backgrounds and experiences. Part of a hybrid workplace is being as inclusive as you are diverse. Lindsay McCormick, CEO of Bite Toothpaste said this, “A hybrid workplace means that there is more opportunity for diversity and inclusivity. Your potential hiring pool is larger, meaning that you can hire people from a number of communities and backgrounds. Make sure that all of your employees have equal access to events, opportunities and information to help them do their job better.”
Parties and gatherings are the toughest tradition to replace through a hybrid model. However, this is a way that you can reformat your traditions and form new ones. CEO of Allbirds Joey Zwillinger had this to say on the topic, “Hosting virtual parties for your employees is a fantastic way to build up your team and culture. Especially when you’ve achieved a recent milestone or you’re reaching the end of your fiscal quarter. Reward your employees with a work free event where you can get to know one another a little better.”
Empower Your Employees
With any new kind of system, it’s important to make sure your team members can and feel comfortable sharing. This is part of building a culture at your place of work. “The more you encourage employees to communicate and share, the more you are supporting the diversity of your workplace and allowing team members to see and celebrate the differences between one another,” says Jason Wong, CEO of Building Blocks. “Show an example by being as supportive as possible of all employees and their lives outside of work.”
This rings true for all industries and businesses. Companies need to prioritize their employees well being and comfortability where they work. Matthew Mundt, Founder and CEO of Hug Sleep offered these thoughts, “Companies who don’t prioritize how their employees feel while they are at work are likely going to fall behind in today’s economy. This can be difficult to do in a hybrid environment when many aspects of culture that used to happen naturally need to be critically and intentionally executed by company leaders.”
And it’s true that business leaders have a responsibility to set an example for their employees. Showing how you want your employees to behave and what kind of attitude they have goes a long way than just simply explaining, they need to be able to observe that you meet the expectations you have for them. “Business owners with hybrid models should aim to be more like facilitators than how we typically think of bosses,” says Kashish Gupta, Founder and CEO of Hightouch. “Delegation will still be necessary, but leaders should try to inspire their employees rather than dictate their every move. The reality is that your team knows how to manage their time, it’s up to you to set goals and expectations so they can show up and do their job effectively.”
Building a culture in a hybrid work environment is about caring for and listening to your employees. Forming new traditions and doing things to make your team feel more comfortable, relaxed and cared for at work will go a long way to retain you best team members and help you create an amazing atmosphere in your hybrid workplace.
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