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Cultivating Culture in the Hybrid Workplace

For most of our clients, the hybrid workplace is here to stay. Many organizations have incorporated workplace flexibilities in ways we could not have imagined prior to the pandemic. Now there are myriad ways to “show up” at work — in the office, from one’s home office, or even a plane ride away from one’s colleagues and supervisors. This poses leaders with the crucial task of cultivating a company culture that thrives in this dynamic environment.

A well-defined workplace culture combines an organization’s values and attitudes with a common set of behaviors that shape the way people work and interact with each other on a daily basis. When employees feel connected to the company culture, it benefits everyone by boosting engagement, connectedness, and retention rates.

Let’s explore some strategies for revamping the culture of your workplace:

1. Identify what should stay (and what can go).

As workplace norms shift, so might your organization’s ideals and vision. This is the perfect time to audit your existing culture to determine what aspects work well and what could use some updating to fit the current landscape of work. You might consider providing employees with an assessment to determine how they perceive the organizational culture.

This reveals misalignment between intended values and actual behavior. If you discover discrepancies between the organization and leadership’s intentions with how employees are impacted, you can work with staff to make adjustments based on their insights. Continue to survey staff on a regular basis to ensure the organization continues to live out its values.

2. Express the importance of connection.

In a hybrid work environment, teams should prioritize scheduling interactions with one another. That might look like scheduling regular check-ins or engaging in a virtual brainstorming session. Provide your team with proper technology such as video conferencing, shared calendars, and project management software so they can stay connected and collaborate on projects in real time.

When it comes to scheduling meetings for your hybrid workforce, take a moment to consider the reason for the meeting (including whether it is even needed!) If you decide a meeting is necessary, then consider your hosting “platform”: an in-person work day, an all virtual meeting, or hybrid. Create a plan to facilitate effective hybrid meetings so you provide people with an equal access to opportunities – regardless of their physical work location.

Don’t forget about building emotional connection, too! Spend time getting to know your boss and colleagues on a more personal level. All teams, even those that roll their eyes at teambuilding, benefit from connection before content. Consider integrating get-to-know-you questions and team bonding activities into your next retreat.

3. Meet in-person with intention.

Depending on your organization’s flexible workplace policies, you might see your colleagues in the office on a regular basis or only once a quarter. When you’re meeting in-person, it’s crucial to make each of those onsite days matter to maximize their impact. When team members come together physically, prioritize brainstorming sessions that tap into the collective creativity of the group. Use these sessions to generate innovative ideas, solve complex problems, and foster a collaborative spirit that may be more challenging to achieve virtually.

An alternative to mandating a certain number of days in the office per week could be to bring teams together for significant events like team retreats, special workshops, or milestone celebrations. These occasions create a sense of unity and build camaraderie – allowing team members to forge meaningful connections that go beyond the Zoom room. This also provides an opportunity for colleagues who might not normally work together to get to know each other.

4. Create a shared purpose.

Everyone on the team should understand how their role connects to the organization’s larger purpose – no matter how often they show up in the office. Paint the “little-big” picture for them. Articulate the team’s overall goals and how those relate to the company’s mission, vision, and strategy. When people understand the connection between their daily tasks and a larger purpose, they’ll be more engaged and productive as they work towards a shared vision.

Shift your focus to emphasizing outcomes over outputs, as well. Outcomes provide context for the work – the “why” or the reason behind your responsibilities, whereas outputs constitute the “what” – specific actions you take or tasks you carry out. Focusing on the outcomes allows people to zoom out and see the bigger picture. This leads staff to derive a greater sense of meaning from their work.

5. Promote flexibility and well-being.

Adopting a more human-centric approach to work is essential for companies to succeed in the modern landscape. Consider how your organization can proactively design policies that accommodate various working styles and individual needs. This might include flexible work hours or providing the option to work remotely more often. Managers and employees directly benefit from increased flexibility – particularly when it comes to reducing stress and prioritizing mental health.

Conversations around mental health and wellness are becoming more normalized in the workplace, too. Create a space where individuals feel comfortable sharing their feelings and talking about their personal lives. As these opt-in conversations become the standard in your organization, it helps you figure out what kinds of resources or support team members may appreciate.

Taking a thoughtful and proactive approach to crafting a high-performance culture will give your organization the opportunity to thrive in the hybrid workplace. To can learn more about creating a culture that supports long term growth, contact us about our Culture Imperative workshop and retreat facilitation services!

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