Building Culture in a Hybrid Workplace
The growth in popularity of Hybrid work has been (and continues to be) exponential. Employees love the added flexibility of working from home when they need to, whether that’s to eliminate office distractions, be more available at home, or just ditch the commute. Employers are taking advantage of hybrid work to cut out unnecessary expenses and provide a safe work environment for their people.
As great as hybrid work is (and it is great), many businesses face the same nagging question as they make the switch: What about our culture? Specifically, how do we build team and company culture without daily face-to-face interaction?
It’s a question that is difficult to answer, because there is no blueprint. Below, we’ll discuss X things you can do to build a culture and create a sense of community, without being in the same room.
1. Avoid Favoritism
It’s never good to play favorites, especially at work. Hybrid work introduces a new challenge for managers, and that is unintentionally favoring employees working in the office rather than at home. To avoid this, you need to take steps to level out your interactions with in-office employees and at-home employees.
That might mean requiring everyone to join meetings virtually, even if they are sitting next to you in the office. Or communicating exclusively in team channels on Slack instead of popping into someone’s office to keep everyone in the loop.
Remember, culture is all about inclusion. The more included every employee feels, the stronger your culture becomes.
2. Start Meetings Early, End Meetings Late
Nobody likes it when meetings go late. We’re not suggesting you should ramble on for an extra 10 minutes just because. What we are suggesting is scheduling five minutes at the front or tail end of team meetings to talk about things that aren’t work related. You might go around the room (or should we say, the Zoom) and ask everyone what they’re doing this weekend or what show they’re watching tonight.
Team and company meetings are great culture building opportunities because everyone is together and engaged, with nothing else on their calendar begging for their attention.
3. Emphasize Team Culture Building
Company events, picnics, or off-sites are great for building culture. They’re opportunities to unwind and get to know each other away from the desk. However, company-wide events are harder to plan with some employees working from other cities, states, or even countries. At best, your company can plan on one or two large events a year.
Team events, on the other hand, can be held more frequently. Managers can organize weekly or monthly get togethers for their team, creating a sense of camaraderie and belonging. Think of this like working out individual culture muscle groups instead of exclusively doing full-body workouts.
Spreading out your culture budget to give managers the ability to plan fun events outside the office not only strengthens bonds within teams, but shows your managers you trust them, which is another important aspect of company culture. Win, win.
4. Celebrate Each Other
The best company cultures are ones where employees feel like they are a part of something bigger than themselves. The best way to remind your people that they are a vital organ for your company is to recognize them publicly anytime they accomplish something noteworthy.
Company Wide meetings should always include time set aside to highlight the great work that is being done throughout the company.
5. Create a Virtual Water Cooler
One of the best parts of working in the office as it relates to company culture are the impromptu conversations that happen when employees bump into each other in the hallway.
Working from home, the chances of you bumping into a co-worker are pretty much 0 (fortunately… imagine walking out of your home office and seeing Bill from accounting sniffing tupperware leftovers from your fridge. Yikes.)
To continue to create a sense of community, even with employees working from different places, you need to create opportunities for your people to virtually ‘bump into each other.’
A dedicated video conference where employees can jump on and chat with one another anytime they have 5 minutes free or need to take a quick break accomplishes this beautifully.
6. Get The Right Tools
By now, there’s a good chance that your business is already using a number of tools to facilitate moving to a hybrid work policy. Things like Slack and Zoom were useful in the past, but with a shift to remote and hybrid work, they have made themselves indispensable. But what about a tool for managing your office space and capacity?
Tactic not only makes it easy to schedule your time in the office, it has a number of features that make it easier to collaborate and connect with co-workers. Employees can create a calendar for what days they plan to work from the office, and then invite their teammates or friends to join them. It also allows your people to browse who will be in the office when, so they can plan their calendar accordingly.