While the recent rise of remote and hybrid workplaces has been a boon to most employees, maintaining a strong organisational culture in such an arrangement can be challenging for managers. The flexibility offered by work-from-home options can help to reduce burnout in team members, but not seeing each other face-to-face can also have its downsides if not managed correctly. Aspects like collaboration, communication, and a sense of belonging can be lost through the airwaves of remote work. These are vital to the performance, and happiness, of your organisation’s most important assets.
Effectively maintaining a strong culture in a hybrid or remote environment allows your organisation to get the best of both worlds. While this is easier said than done, we do have some useful tips to help you.
Why is Maintaining Organisational Culture Important?
The short answer is that it allows you to build a team that can work efficiently as a cohesive unit, united by the same purpose.
The long answer is that culture is tied to the way in which everyone in your organisation interacts with each other, and how they approach the work-life balance. A strong culture means that everyone is on the same page; team members, managers, and the organisation itself. It brings a sense of belonging and unity, collaboration and openness that will bring the best out of all.
In the workplace, productivity goes hand in hand with a strong culture, and it goes a long way to ensuring that team members are inspired to give their all. This is particularly important in a hybrid setting, where everyday interactions in the office don’t occur, and team members are isolated. It’s up to the manager to ensure that workplace culture stays strong in a remote or hybrid work environment.
How to Build a Strong Hybrid or Remote Culture
Building a constructive organisational culture in a hybrid workplace is a bit different than in a traditional office. It can be tough to feel a sense of connectedness and empathy when people aren’t always in close proximity to each other, even with video calls. So, how can you take on this task?
1. Build a Cohesive Employer Brand
Placing heavier emphasis on culture within internal communications can be one of the best ways to keep a positive culture top of mind. Weaving this into everything from newsletters, internal briefs, video meetings, and even emails can be a great way to build a strong employer brand and inspire a sense of community.
Your employer brand is a reflection of what your organisation stands for and this defines your organisational culture. Your brand is what you do and how you do it, so clearly communicate this! In addition, a strong employer brand also helps when hiring new team members. Applicants will see this ingrained in your social media presence and job ads, making it that much easier to find and attract good cultural fits.
2. Retain the Social Aspect
The workplace is not just a place for team members to individually work away at their own tasks. It also provides an opportunity for them to forge meaningful connections with others, collaborate, and improve their experience overall. If employees ever miss being in the office, it’s likely the social aspect that draws them back. Luckily, the magic of modern technology means that this does not have to be lost for hybrid and remote workers.
Regular team meetings are important, and these shouldn’t always be strictly business. Consider implementing a shared lunch call occasionally, or virtual team-building exercises. Allow your team frequent opportunities to get to know each other, and they’ll do the rest!
At TalentVine, we have a hybrid workplace. We do a weekly ‘Sh&tty Quiz’ where a different team member will host a Kahoot quiz. This will typically be on a subject that someone is passionate about so it’s a great way for everyone to have some fun together on a day when we are all working remotely, whilst also learning a bit more about each other.
3. Facilitate Candid Communication
While planned meetings and exercises are a great touch, they can’t quite replace the social fulfilment that comes from those watercooler chats, those candid conversations over a coffee, or those impromptu meetings as you pass in the hallway. Remote and hybrid teams need the ability to be spontaneous, to virtually walk over to someone’s desk and tap them on the shoulder.
While traditional email can get the job done, organisations thinking forward should implement a more modern chat platform, such as Slack. The ability to easily send messages, switch between conversations, set up an audio or video call, and share files make conversing candidly much easier. Plus, who would ever object to receiving less emails!
4. Create and Communicate Your Shared Purpose
It’s a fundamental business standard to have a clearly defined vision and mission statement. Despite this, it’s amazing how many organisations either don’t have or don’t adequately share this. Your workplace culture should be centred around the organisation’s shared purpose, so defining and sharing this is essential.
If you haven’t done so already, write down the shared purpose, vision, and mission statement for your organisation. Make sure it’s crystal clear and freely available for any staff member to access and review. Having a shared purpose is critical in hybrid workplace culture. It’s the flag around which the entire workforce rallies, no matter where or when they are working.
5. Provide Opportunities to Meet in Person
Even if parts of the workforce work remotely or primarily from home, you can still find opportunities to facilitate face-to-face interaction. Allowing off-site employees to meet the team in-person should be a priority for any hybrid workforce. In fact, this should be a priority for any hybrid workforce. Whether it’s offsite retreats, a quarterly party, or even just the occasional dinner, meeting up in person is an irreplaceable way to form closer connections between employees and solidify the shared hybrid culture.
Organisational culture is the glue that holds your workforce together. With the hybrid model here to stay, the challenge lies in ensuring that this culture continues to stick no matter the proximity of employees. Leaders must adapt their practices to ensure that the benefits of a strong workplace culture and hybrid teams can coexist, strengthening the organisation as a whole.