Building Your Hybrid Workplace Toolkit, Day 5: Keep Prioritizing Culture

Now that your employees are dispersed, you’ll need to go the extra mile to keep everyone happy, engaged, and connected.

This is the last part of our five-day hybrid workplace toolkit series. Day 1 was about building a travel kit; Day 2 was about reviewing the timing for your commute; Day 3 covered keeping your focus no matter where you work; Day 4 was about wise scheduling.

With a shift to a dispersed workforce, maintaining organizational culture becomes more difficult—but it may be more important than ever. Now that people are in different working environments, it’ll take a more deliberate effort from everyone in your organization to keep in-person and remote workers connected.

Today’s tip: Bolster your culture-building efforts with new strategies.

How to Keep Building Culture in a Hybrid Workplace

When you hear “culture building,” you might think of formal events, happy hours, and team-building exercises. While those things absolutely contribute to the culture, your efforts can go deeper than that. The baseline of building culture is about how people actually experience their workplace and their colleagues. As employees return to the office in some capacity, leaders should place an emphasis on trust. Concerns about favoritism may arise, and remote workers may feel a fear of missing out if they aren’t collaborating with their teams in person. Trusted leadership can mitigate these challenges.

Another way to keep all employees connected is to create a culture of feedback and consistent communication to keep people on the same page even when they’re physically separated. Organizations can bridge the gap between groups more easily by taking a product-development approach to culture-building; that is, routinely checking the pulse to see how things are working. This means surveying both in-person and remote employees to gauge whether they feel connected and what changes they want to see. In other words, creating a culture of feedback should work in both directions.

When you are together in person, find ways to develop and deepen relationships with colleagues spontaneously, not just at the next happy hour. Maybe it’s as simple as specifically inviting a colleague for coffee or making sure that the day has some flexibility to allow impromptu conversations to thrive.

As employees acclimate to a new way of working, you also want to establish an empathetic culture so that managers and colleagues support each other during this time of transition. Plus, doing so will bolster your DEI efforts. How do you create a more empathetic workplace? The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) recommends offering training for all employees—especially managers and C-suite executives—to “understand the nature of empathy and to behave more empathetically.” Training could include encouraging self-care, reducing the stigma of mental health struggles, and placing an emphasis on listening to others and how to connect with them. According to SHRM’s report, half of all workers surveyed said they don’t have access to this kind of training.

Why You Should Keep Building Culture

Building a stronger organizational culture is always a goal, but it’s especially important during a transition to hybrid work. Traditionally, culture-building has been reliant on all employees being in one place and interacting in person. That changed with the shift to remote work, but even during the pandemic, all employees were on the same playing field in most cases.

Now, in a hybrid setting, there are two distinctly different working environments. This can make it harder for organizations to make all employees feel valued, and it’s why taking extra strides to build culture is imperative.

(Tijana Simic/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Michael Hickey

By Michael Hickey

Michael Hickey is a contributor to Associations Now. MORE

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