5 steps to build a strong Hybrid work culture in 2022
Updated: Aug 7, 2022
Having a hybrid team where some employees are co-located in an office and others work remotely presents several challenges for team leaders and HR professionals. One of the most common challenges is creating and sustaining a strong team in a culture of the hybrid workspace.
Positive hybrid work culture matters much more than you probably think, and it encourages a team to excel in their tasks and grow, not only implement their projects. According to Gallup, Culture presents the »how we do things around here,« which differs your company from others. This is especially important when trying to attract and retain talented employees.
Remote and hybrid teams working in positive cultures have greater accountability. Fully engaged employees are confident in their definition of excellence, dedicated to an organization's purpose, secure in the support, and excited about their organization's future.
Culture has always been a challenge to strengthen and sustain. With hybrid work models, the difficulty is increased many-fold. It is not easy, but it will be worth it, and the following 5 steps can help you build a strong Hybrid work culture:
1) Develop collective values and purpose
Purpose has always been key to business performance, but it is especially critical with hybrid work. When everyone is present in the office, they can feel the energy and experience a sense of common purpose by meeting with colleagues and chatting about strategy, customers, or what's new with the company. This may still occur virtually when people are separated, but it will be drastically reduced.
You need to be intentional about articulating the purpose and discussing the big picture of the overall goals. Ensuring people feel their work is uniquely necessary to the organization's success. You also need to provide a sense of shared purpose — not only how a team member's work is connected to overall goals, but how the team's work as a whole is essential. Teams need to see how their work connects and intersects, and they need to be reminded of mutual dependencies because these are less obvious if people aren't in the office together.
2) Reduce virtual distance in the hybrid work culture
The best way to drive team performance is by focusing on reducing virtual distance. Try switching most remote communication to scheduled video calls, which are better for establishing rapport and creating empathy than emails or calls. Design virtual team-building events that allow people to interact often and experience their collaboration skills in action.
Raise awareness of the introverts in your team since around half of the world's population are introverts, so you likely have one or more in your team. Remind your colleagues that your virtual office door is always open. Show your support to encourage colleagues to feel comfortable calling you or asking for help, rather than being worried about 'bothering you."
3) Show your team the positive impact of their work
The more an employee understands the impact of their work, the more positively motivated they will be and the more fulfillment they will experience. When employees notice their work contributes and means something to another individual, they up their game.
When you talk about customers, even if your team doesn't interact with them directly, use their real names, talk about their businesses, and let your team know that real people count on them. This approach worked successfully with fundraisers, hospital workers, travel guide producers, mail-order pharmacies, and sales teams.
4) Encourage collaboration
When teammates freely collaborate in a platform accessible to every member, they form a stronger and more cohesive bond. They're all in the same boat and working on a related problem that could benefit them all when solved. This bond leads and motivates them to work together toward the collective goals. By enabling them to collaborate, the barriers and gaps created by physical distance get dissipated quickly.
Remote and hybrid meetings are subject to a human tendency to reduce effort and motivation when working in a group. This can increase during remote meetings due to the virtual barrier between team members. Using video and inviting as few people as possible helps counter that sense of anonymity in the hybrid work culture.
5) Schedule regular catch-ups and informal meetings
The best way to create a stronger relationship between in-office and remote groups is to give an opportunity for interaction and catching up. This can be as simple as a once-a-week virtual catch-up, where they can talk about other things than work. You can open a 'water cooler' Slack channel to enable employees to 'drop by' when they need a little pick-me-up or a 5-minute break. Use it to talk about how your colleagues' days are going, offer some exciting news or fun facts, give suggestions, or ask a question familiar to everyone so they all can answer.
Try starting a team' book club.' You can do this over Slack or the Zoom platform, where members can join a dedicated channel and vote for their selected book. Then members can set future meetings to discuss the chosen books monthly or on agreed dates.
It would be best if you still nurtured office traditions and rituals to help keep a semblance of regular routines and team motivation. You should keep the tradition of celebrating birthdays (arrange the birthday cake to be delivered to team members, if feasible). Also, celebrate engagements, weddings, births, and remarkable accomplishments. Don't forget important work anniversaries! Everyone loves a good 'congrats!' GIF or meme here and there.
You can also suggest a monthly virtual lunch get-together with the team members who want to participate. On a more formal note, you can arrange a 'lunch-and-learn' session for teammates. These are an excellent opportunity for a team member with relevant know-how or specialty to share their knowledge or skill with the entire team. Anyone can join virtually while eating their lunch and learn more about a specific skill. You can arrange a Q+A session at the end. You can also set video lunch or coffee dates with co-workers to keep in touch with them.