Blog: The basics of culture-building in a new hybrid workplace

Life @ Work

The basics of culture-building in a new hybrid workplace

Reshaping culture in a partial or a completely hybrid workplace does not have to be a mammoth task. Keeping the workforce’s needs and lived experiences at the center of management decisions is the first step.
The basics of culture-building in a new hybrid workplace

It takes years of investment by leaders to cultivate a healthy workplace culture – the markers of  which are strategy, structure and contribution to strong bottom-line performance. However, with  the future of work changing and leading to limited operations in physical workspaces, workplace  culture takes on a whole new meaning.  

With many employees working remotely and only some on location, talent managers are now  faced with task to recalibrate the many variables that make up a unifying workplace culture. There  is a hidden fear that the new hybrid work model will erode this culture. When in fact, it is all about  supporting people to get the right balance of how they prefer to operate that works for them to be  as productive as possible. So finding ways to drive engagement and instill a sense of purpose  among the workforce should be a priority.  

Reshaping culture in a partial or a completely hybrid workplace does not have to be a mammoth  task. Keeping the workforce’s needs and lived experiences at the center of management decisions  is the first step. Then come the four unassuming, but significant changes that leaders should make  to ensure culture becomes a catalyst for success in the new normal – 

  • Be intentional about communication – Although the need for connection remains paramount,  with the newly blurred distinctions between work and home life, digitally colonizing people’s  homes is not an option. Create guidelines around how you communicate, how often you  communicate and think about ways in which you can avoid the ‘Zoom fatigue’ from kicking in.  
  • Keep traditions alive – What were the non-work elements that made employees feel like they  were a part of ONE team? Everything that once drove formal and informal culture in the physical  workplace needs to be reformatted to ensure inclusivity and connection between the physical and  virtual workforces. This includes team-building activities, wellness sessions, happy hours and  milestone celebrations, that allow members of a team to preserve social attachments with each  other.  
  • Maintain focus on work/life balance – Even prior to the pandemic’s disruption, work/life balance  was a yardstick by which workplace culture was assessed by employees as well as employers.  Rightly so, because culture is about the people you work with and what they bring to work each  day – and work/life balance is a big part of that. This makes it critical to instill a sense of empathy  to personal demands and protect the workforce against burnout as they settle into hybrid routines.  
  • Don’t forget D&I – Everyone has had different experiences of working during the lockdown, and  these experiences will be brought to the workplace, both physically and virtually. So the focus  should be to make all voices heard in new hybrid ways of working and ensure people from all  walks of life feel like they belong. Pivoting policies, ensuring equal access to technology for all  employees, and digitizing the work of Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are some ways in which  companies can maintain a shared collaborative and cultural mindset even with a staggered  workforce. 

Getting workplace culture right can be advantageous all around. The shared experience of  adapting to the same extraordinary circumstances makes culture more important than ever. And thoughts can only translate to action with constant reflection, deliberation and collaboration to  thrive in this new reality. 

 

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Topics: Life @ Work, Culture, #GuestArticle, #HybridWorkplace

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