Culture is often a highly debated and often controversial subject. As humans, we are often complex. If a company sells paint then they can agree that’s what they do - unless they work in marketing, in which case they provide the essential element of the universe. However, if you were to ask the entirety of the staff what culture the company has, the answers will likely be different.
Nevertheless, there are some ways you can build a better hybrid working culture, and we’ve explored some of these for you today.
Apple staff lodged a letter this summer demanding more flexible working. This was after Apple had introduced a temporary hybrid working model and then stated in an email to staff that they knew they were ‘excited’ to get back to the office. In the staff response letter, they touched on a number of essential changes including employees setting their own schedules, remote and location-flexible decisions being made by individual teams and an investigation into the environmental impact of returning to the office.
Whether these points are relevant to your hybrid working environment is less important than acknowledging the need to stop this kind of thing from happening before it’s too late and you lose talent. This really plays into keeping employees involved in some of the big decisions that will affect their day-to-day. Let’s expand on these big decisions and commonalities.
It’s really important that everyone feels they are moving in the same direction. When you’re in the office you can’t help but feel the energy that comes from being in the same room. Various different physical elements of ‘culture’ can be created in the office.
Being intentionally simplistic, a Friday-themed food buffet and beer trolley could be a great way of bringing people together. It conveys that ‘whatever your role, you’re more than welcome to get involved and we’re in this together’.
This notion of commonality is way harder to replicate remotely. Things can easily translate as forced and a blatant attempt to keep staff onside. However, the alternative of simply leaving people alone to work remotely also comes with its risks.
A remote workforce with no culture may be left contemplating their position if they are simply handed a list of tasks to do and left to their own devices at home. This is particularly relevant to those in the earlier stages of their career who perhaps want to rationalise their lower salary - when compared to more senior colleagues - through the knowledge that they are learning from them and are on this great team.
This is where it’s so important to introduce shared objectives in a hybrid organisation. You can meet in the office sometimes, cementing that sense of cohesion, togetherness and direction of the company. Have those in-personal meetings where people feel valued and listened to. The remote ‘deep work’ is way more likely to be executed at a higher level if people feel part of something.
One of the biggest perks of remote work is that it allows employees to reclaim some of their free time and gain a sense of added agency in their day; both personally and professionally. By swerving many of the drawbacks of office life - namely, interruptions from colleagues who drop by for a chat or to ask a question at a bad time.
As a result, office time needs to be respected. Some people may take advantage when they hear words to the effect of ‘the office being a place for collaboration and unity’. Queue that person who takes the joke one step too far when it’s time to get down to business.
Policy can be out in place to support this, and as mentioned previously drawing this up as a cohesive team is vital. For example, you may want to introduce a ‘lose ends hour’ on a Friday afternoon to ensure staff are getting things done and not simply remaining in the office to talk about last tonight's Rings of Power episode. Creating culture is key, and an important part of that comes from the mutual respect of shared rules.
Don’t Expect Perfection from Day One
There will never be a perfect place to work; at least not for everyone. That’s why it’s important to not be too hard on yourself if aspects of your hybrid organisation don’t feel successful. Treat it as an opportunity to make things even better.
Looking for a better hybrid environment? Clearooms provide smart hybrid working software to ensure your office is happy and performing well.