According to a Gallup survey, 65% of employees now prefer a hybrid work environment, while the percentage who prefer to work exclusively from home has doubled to 30% since October 2021. This data shows hybrid and remote working is clearly on the rise.
As such, no longer can you rely on the same in-person activities and interactions that helped shape your culture pre-pandemic. But fear not – keeping your unique values, traditions, and sense of community alive is totally doable in our distributed world. It just takes a different approach.
But, what is culture anyway?
Well, it’s about way more than just the superficial perks like foosball tables and bottomless snacks in the breakroom (as awesome as those are!). At its core, company culture is the glue that bonds teams together, fuels higher engagement and performance, and gives every employee a deeper sense of meaning, purpose and camaraderie in their work.
It’s the special sauce that transforms a workplace from just a place you show up to get a paycheck into a second home where you feel you belong. From leveraging digital tools such as human capital management software to taking inclusive approaches to leadership, culture-building in hybrid work just requires some thoughtful adjustments. – and we are about to show you some of the ways you can do just that.
Use Technology to Connect Distributed Teams
Digital tools, such as those centred around collaboration and automation, are going to be your best friend when it comes to bringing remote and onsite folks together. This will give you the ability to streamline communicating your company values, policies, social events, and more through central online hubs.
Provide virtual watercoolers like Slack channels for casual mingling. This will give some sort of platform where colleagues can engage with each other in a relaxed yet professional setting. Of course, it’s always a good idea to use video conferencing and digital whiteboards so distributed teammates can collaborate face-to-face. This technology paves the way for integrating your whole workforce into one culture.
For example, consider a daily standup meeting over Zoom. This brief video check-in allows both remote and in-office team members to touch base and align. Virtual collaboration apps further enable real-time brainstorming and ideation regardless of location. Take advantage of tech innovations to mimic those casual collisions at the coffee machine that spark creativity and bonding.
Foster Strong Leadership at All Levels Prioritize
Leaders play a hugely influential role in shaping and nurturing company culture. In a hybrid environment, it is crucial that managers embrace an inclusive mindset towards both remote and in-office employees. Leaders should be trained and equipped not just to communicate context and strategy, but also to proactively check in on the experience and concerns of their reports across locations.
Promoting leaders who build high trust and psychological safety within hybrid teams is another key strategy. When managers role model the company’s values and rally their teams around a shared mission, this cascades through the whole organization. By prioritizing strong leadership that connects with and engages distributed staff, companies can anchor their culture even as work models evolve.
Team Bonding Opportunities
While it may seem like an optional nice-to-have, making space for team bonding and fun is critical to nurturing company culture in hybrid environments. Leaders should get creative about facilitating relationship-building experiences virtually, such as remote cooking classes, trivia nights, multiplayer games and more. For in-person events, consider flexing office hours or settings to allow remote staff to dial in.
Sending thoughtful care packages or gift cards with a personal touch to remote employees helps them feel valued and included. Intentionally investing time into building personal connections across the team strengthens bonds that uphold culture, even at a distance.
Recognize and Reward Employees
To nurture an inclusive culture across hybrid teams, employee recognition and rewards should resonate with both remote and in-office staff. Individual or team kudos can be highlighted through email, intranet or Slack shoutouts. Peer recognition awards for demonstrating company values is another great way to reinforce cultural priorities.
For remote teams, mailing gift cards or treats to say thanks for exceptional contributions shows personalized appreciation. Tying rewards like special assignments or cool perks to cultural contributions rather than physical presence communicates what the organization truly values. Thoughtful recognition goes a long way in any work environment.
Create Spaces for Open Dialogue
Healthy workplace cultures encourage open, two-way dialogue between leadership and employees. Companies can build this by dedicating time to open Q&A sessions, pulse surveys, or informal AMAs with executives. Training managers to truly listen, process, and respond to concerns from both onsite and remote team members is also important.
By welcoming constructive criticism and embracing divergent perspectives, companies gain valuable insights into strengthening their culture across distributed teams. Providing channels for people to voice their thoughts openly and honestly fosters a culture of trust and transparency.
Onboard Employees Thoughtfully
The employee onboarding experience powerfully informs new hires’ perception of the company culture. Businesses should be intentional about welcoming hybrid teams by sending onboarding kits and company swag to remote new starters. Virtual introductions, office tours and ramp-up meetings make them feel included.
Pairing new hires with culture vets as informal buddies provides helpful context. Where possible, schedule some in-person onboarding touchpoints. When managers personally invest in integrating remote and onsite new hires, it kickstarts a culture of belonging from day one.
While maintaining a strong, cohesive culture across hybrid teams requires rethinking some approaches, it is certainly achievable with intention and effort. Companies that leverage inclusive leadership, thoughtful technology use, virtual bonding opportunities and transparent communication can foster the same sense of community, purpose and belonging even in distributed environments.
By keeping culture a key priority now, companies can build resilience and continue engaging and inspiring employees in our evolving modern workplace. The ideas shared here provide a blueprint – now over to you to implement strategies that work for your unique hybrid culture!