In our new era of the hybrid workplace, the modern company with its built-in flexibility is seeing corporate culture evolve organically in a new habitat: the home office. 

But how can organizations cultivate and nurture a strong company culture in the hybrid ecosystem? In this article, we will discuss how to build a successful hybrid work culture with tools and techniques to facilitate deep connections from the individual worker to the company and its mission.

How Company Culture Works

Before we can understand what makes hybrid work culture unique, it’s important to understand how company culture operates in a traditional work setting.

Work culture is the expression of a business’s core values and mission played out in real life. From everyday tasks and projects to how information is communicated, culture is continuously being shaped offline and online. The stronger the connection a worker feels to the company vision (and how their individual contributions factor in), the more aligned to the company they will be. This relationship between employees and company culture can directly impact talent retention as well as other key objectives and performance outcomes. 

In fact, work culture impacts many facets of the business such as employee turnover, project completion, productivity, workload, and even revenue. Culture also contributes to intangibles such as a sense of belonging, innovation, and effectiveness — all of which influence employee performance. 

We see this relationship play out in recent trends in hybrid work cultures. For example, per Harvard Business Review, 53% of employees surveyed who had radical flexibility over location, schedule, work volume, team, and projects felt a high degree of connectedness to their company as opposed to 18% with low-flexibility feeling connected to their workplaces.

Fostering company culture is an active and ongoing endeavor. Leaders and HR professionals might first think of sending a company-wide email highlighting the company mission or going over some finer points during an All Hands meeting. However, before you throw a mandatory lecture on the calendar, consider ways that your teams can live out the mission and values in everyday work. Consider how the organization’s values can be infused into how projects are paced and completed. 

For example, if a core value is “move fast and break things” (a now-famous philosophy coined by Mark Zuckerberg in Facebook’s early days) but your company’s processes are full of red tape, then the desired culture of quick iteration isn’t supported. In that case, your culture isn’t engrained in everyday work life and it will be difficult for employees to adopt a culture they can’t see or feel. If this is ringing true for your organization, standard operating procedures, or SOPs, should be rethought.

Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities of Hybrid Work

As the world of work clocks another trip around the sun since going remote and hybrid in 2020, we learn a little more about the new and exciting benefits that come with distributed teams. Of course, workers were able to prioritize health and wellness in a way they never could before while making long commutes and being away from home. The new hybrid model has put a focus on work-life balance and increased awareness around healthy boundaries, working hours, and workloads. 

With an increasing number of businesses flexing into a hybrid work environment, there are also a few challenges that have come to the surface. Questions of collaboration, communication, and meeting deadlines are areas of top concern. After all, that talented new partner could be a few (or five) time zones away. However, as long as the company is prepared to try new hybrid-friendly collaboration techniques, it can be all up-side for the team.

One way to adjust for distributed teams is with asynchronous collaboration. This project management technique allows participants to communicate on their own schedule, eliminating the requirement for everyone to be live on a call. Often, team members will record a quick video to communicate details and opinions in their absence. The group can then use a platform like Slack to respond to videos and messages sent by team members on the other side of the country. 

Not only does this style of collaboration work well for distributed teams, but it also streamlines productivity and efficiency because team members must have meaningful discussions and planning before any real meeting actually takes place. Melanie Collins, Chief People Officer at Dropbox, champions a limited number of meetings that stick to the three Ds: debates, discussions, and decisions.

If these three Ds aren’t happening in your meetings, then it’s a sign to drop it from your calendar and do some additional coordinating. Ultimately, allowing flexibility in the communication and collaboration process is an essential component to making deadlines happen with an engaged workforce.

How to Create a Hybrid Workplace Culture

Creating a hybrid work environment with a thriving company culture looks only slightly different to its in-person counterpart. This is great news for organizations and teams that have already cultivated vibrant cultures, since many of the principles transfer. Here is a shortlist of the most effective ways to build and foster your company culture in a hybrid structure.

Be intentional about culture

Teams need to feel a sense of connection with the mission of the company and their work. Arguably, it is just as important to feel connected to individuals in their teams as it is to their duties. Team building events can be scheduled regularly to provide several opportunities for workers to get to know each other. These can be in person or virtual events. Hosting a mix of both will ensure that no one feels left out. 

Additionally, the first few emails and interactions with a new hire sets the tone for their tenure with your organization. Plugging the new hires into Slack channels, groups, councils, and other internal organizations is a great way to introduce them to the values that make up the company, lived out through people.  It’s another great avenue that provides a platform for employees to share their ideas and perspectives, deeping the connection they feel with the team.

Implement the proper tools

The right technology makes collaboration fun and easy, even with hybrid teams, and creates an environment that allows space for innovation and better output. Several SaaS products, like Canva and Miro, for example, include a whiteboard where any team member can contribute ideas, add deliverables and notes, and so on. 

Of course, video conferencing and messaging software like Slack, Webex, and Teams are essential for everyday work as well. Technology for video calling is growing more sophisticated all the time and many enterprises rely on widely-available programs like Google Meet and even open-source software.

We can’t forget project management software so all team members can have one easy, accessible source of truth for timelines, deliverables, and project notes. Asana, Monday, and ClickUp are all examples of these kinds of tools. Whatever the tech stack happens to be, provide ample tutorials and resources to train staff on how to leverage the technology properly. Also consider pairing up team members so that individual workers have direct support. 

Create trust and transparency

Transparency, trust, and accountability are necessary for employees to feel safe enough to communicate challenges and issues they are facing. Consider ways to facilitate open communication and feedback, and actively live out company values of integrity, growth, and other key pillars of the culture.

Of course, all feedback should first be filtered through a lens of “good intention” so that even challenging or hard-to-hear criticism can be addressed in a productive and growth-focused manner. That said, there should also be a way for employees to anonymously provide feedback, create reports, or “bubble up” issues to relevant parties. Anonymity is important because it increases the feeling of safety on the employee’s part, which leads to better visibility and understanding of real situations so leadership can act accordingly.

Provide resources and support for physical and mental health

Providing ergonomic equipment and access to wellness programs and mental health services are a few ways companies can support employees’ well-being. These considerations can usually be built into compensation and benefits packages, available to all full time employees (and other team members, as the company has the ability to offer).

Foster community

Companies can appoint captains or committees that support culture and company values in fun ways. These groups or individuals can schedule events, whether in person or virtual, plan and organize team-building exercises and programs that foster a sense of community and belonging. Think about creating communal areas within your physical office spaces for breakout chats and good old fashioned “water-cooler” conversations. You can replicate these environments virtually by rotating a hosted office-hour that remote workers can dial into and join to have a sounding board or simply be connected to another human for a while.

Mentorship programs can be another great way to support your employees and grow deeper connections between team members. It can also help retain invested, high-performing talent as they are continually growing and being challenged.

Measure the success of the hybrid workplace culture

It’s important to keep a pulse on how the team is feeling in the hybrid work environment. Team leaders can manage the culture within their own groups, which encourages them to find cadences and procedures that work for them. They should also be able to surface concerns and success stories of how team members are settling in, how they are personally driving the culture within the group, and championing demonstrations of the culture lived out loud from individuals. Some teams have an entire Slack channel dedicated to values and culture, which is a wonderful way for colleagues to share, support, and give credit to each other.

How Industrious Helps Companies Build Hybrid Work Cultures and Community

Whether your team is new to the hybrid work environment or your company was an early adopter, Industrious has the workplace solution for you. You’ll find that each Industrious office provides a warm and inviting atmosphere serviced with concierge-level hospitality; the perfect backdrop for your organization to cultivate your unique company culture. Discover dedicated and shared workspaces, as well as fully furnished offices and suites with world-class amenities.