Now that associations have reached the point of no return in embracing a hybrid work model, communication and transparency are the keys to a successful workplace culture, said John Clese, a remote workforce strategist for Achurch Consulting.
“Four walls do not make a culture,” said Clese, which is notable because 70 percent of associations have gone hybrid, and another 27 percent are fully remote, according to his company’s “2022 State of the Workplace Pulse Survey.” Many of the traits associated with effective cultures—accountability, engagement, and transparency—“have nothing to do with walls” and can be achieved through digital connections.
Offering the option to work from home can improve culture since remote work is a popular office perk, said Maddie Grant, CAE, founder of PROPEL, a company that assists associations in elevating workplace culture. “It’s a big shift toward meeting the needs of individual employees, which correlates strongly with employee engagement,” she said.
Employees are discovering big efficiencies that come from managing their own schedules and reducing commuting time. However, there are risks that come from less frequent in-person interactions, which means it’s important for association leaders to communicate clearly regarding expectations and workflow and to facilitate connectedness.
Revise Expectations, Improve Communications
To ensure staff buy-in to the hybrid model, managers’ expectations must be clear for remote work, said Grant. She suggests getting specific—for example, are cameras expected to be on during virtual meetings and when should emails be sent?
“If some people are night owls, should they wait to send their emails during regular business hours so as not to put pressure on people?” she said. “With so many communication options—Teams, Slack, text, phone—what kind of communication happens where?” While these questions may sound like small concerns, Grant said some of these decisions actually have big culture implications.