Many organisations have struggled with maintaining a hybrid and remote work culture since the office doors closed last March. But with culture so integral to business success it is vital that employers and HR leaders make hybrid and remote culture a priority.
What is work culture and why is it so important?
Think of the culture of your organisation as its own unique personality. Your mission, values, leadership style and practices all shape company culture and create a positive (or negative) working environment.
A strong company culture can be the reason you attract top talent, retain and engage employees, drive performance and innovation, and of course, maintain a healthy and happy workforce.
The impact of culture on bottom-line business performance cannot be understated. 77% of people agree that a strong culture allows them to do their best work. But worryingly, only a quarter of employees think their organisation has a strong culture.
Therefore, a majority of organisations are struggling to retain and attract talent, suffering from lower productivity and causing stress, anxiety and burnout amongst their teams – simply because they have failed to effectively build and maintain an effective culture.
Maintaining hybrid and remote work culture
Among the varied challenges of the pandemic, maintaining a hybrid and remote work culture has been one of the most significant. Without a physical environment for employees and leaders to collaborate, socialise and connect, many employers have had to rethink their approach.
Here’s some of the ways in which you can maintain a hybrid and remote work culture.
After nearly 16 months, many organisations are planning some sort of return to the office. But after such a long time away from our colleagues, socialising could be very different. Without water cooler conversations or a chat in the lift, most communications are now focused solely around work.
A great way to replicate this in a remote format is to run a team-building exercise each week or book a Zoom social meeting for small talk and chats about their lives outside of work. Creating spaces where employees can still communicate socially and build relationships is critical to maintain a remote work culture.
It’s no shock that work-related communication is also one of the biggest areas of concern. In the office, information and updates could disperse relatively quickly, with open discussions taking place throughout the day.
By comparison, it’s much easier for information to be missed remotely. Email memos, technical difficulties and misinterpretation is far more common when employees are working from home.
Ensure management is organised in their approach to relaying company information. If Team A receives an important update on Tuesday morning, but Team B doesn’t learn about it until Wednesday afternoon this could cause conflict. All managers have a different style of leadership, but if employees feel they aren’t a priority company culture will suffer.
Define your work culture in a hybrid context
What values, behaviours and practices best represent your organisation? Think about how these may need to adapt in a remote or hybrid environment. Reinforce the standards you expect from employees so they know what you expect.
If you are a company that prides itself on being modern, innovative and a thought leader, you should expect this to be a shared value in your teams. In a hybrid and remote work culture you could ask employees to share a recent industry news article in weekly meetings.
Mental health and wellbeing support
Few company cultures can thrive without a proactive mental health strategy. Not only is it a legal requirement under the Health and Safety at Work Act (1974), but a culture of wellbeing also fosters greater engagement and productivity.
A hybrid and remote work culture is likely to be a new policy at your organisation, and to guarantee a smoother transition you must prioritise wellbeing and mental health. Employees are feeling more vulnerable than ever, as Apple CEO Tim Cook discovered after announcing their new hybrid strategy. He received an open letter from 80 employees complaining that the new hybrid working policy forces them “to choose between either a combination of our families, our well-being and being empowered to do our best work”.
However, in order to understand how your people feel, you need to encourage a culture of feedback and open dialogue.
A healthy culture develops from open and honest feedback from employees throughout your organisation. Without regular feedback built into your hybrid and remote work culture, you won’t know what’s working – and what isn’t.
Creating a culture of honesty, open discussion and frequent feedback gives your company an opportunity to grow and thrive. Individuals can learn and develop professionally, whilst teams become stronger and more in tune with each other.
Regular one-on-ones are becoming more commonplace as HR leaders reject the outdated annual review. But these meetings can only be truly productive if the right conversations are taking place. Gathering critical feedback before your meeting can help guide the discussion and focus on the areas your people are struggling with most.
Try our free culture risk assessment survey and start gathering feedback from your people today.
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