In the last several years, the way we work has changed drastically for many companies. The Covid-19 pandemic didn’t start changes in office culture or even a work-from-home set-up, but it certainly accelerated the change and forced most companies to experiment with new types of working environments. And many of these models are sticking around—some permanently. One of the most popular environments that many companies adapted before Covid, during Covid, and are continuing after is the hybrid culture.
What is hybrid work culture? We’ll walk you through what this culture is, its strengths and weaknesses, and finally, 6 steps to create a thriving hybrid culture in your office.
What Is Hybrid Work Culture?
Hybrid culture is when your company mixes both in-office work and remote work. Some companies have a hybrid culture where employees work a certain number of days in the office and a certain number of days remotely. Some companies allow the employees to choose which days they want to work remotely while others create a schedule. Some companies approach the hybrid schedule by allowing employees to choose where they work each day—where some employees work primarily remotely while others typically work in the office.
Hybrid work culture isn’t the same as fully remote work because typically most employees are in the office at some point. But even if there are fully or mostly remote employees, there are typically those that work in the office. With remote work, employers focus more on how to improve communication and provide support for one type of employee. But with hybrid culture, employers need to better understand how to balance remote and in-office work.
So why do companies use hybrid culture if it provides these challenges?
The Strengths and Weaknesses of Hybrid Culture
Hybrid culture does have its weaknesses. The main weakness is the difficulty for management in figuring out how to balance two working cultures at the same time and how to connect with employees. Traditional in-office management techniques won’t work the same with a hybrid culture, and it takes a new way of thinking. Additional weaknesses include:
- Increased employee isolation
- Loss of team cohesiveness
These weaknesses don’t have to hold your company back though. Each one can be combated with the right techniques and planning—which we’ll cover later in this article.
But why are so many companies using hybrid culture? Companies use it because it can be so effective. There are so many advantages to incorporating hybrid culture into your business. These are some of the main strengths of hybrid culture:
- Focus on productivity, not efficiency. Efficiency doesn’t necessarily mean great work is happening with your employees. If management instead focuses on productivity, they can ensure that employees are doing what needs to be done. Hybrid culture provides that focus. Productivity becomes the key, and you can start seeing a shift to that focus.
- Prioritization of employees. Your employees are what makes your company work. Taking care of your employees is key to taking care of your company. A hybrid workplace allows employees more control and flexibility, which allows them to be more productive and be able to manage their personal lives well. A hybrid workplace culture helps employees feel how their management team prioritizes them as people.
- Potential for increased retention. Simply put, employees want hybrid culture. They want to have the flexibility and control it offers, and they look for companies that offer that—and then stay at that company. Offering hybrid work options can help you keep your employees.
- More hiring opportunities. Hybrid work doesn’t just mean all of your employees have to live in the same area and work in the same area. Instead, it opens the opportunity for hiring talent wherever you want and allows some employees to remain mostly remote. If your company could benefit from international employees or a wider hiring net, hybrid culture can help make that possible.
6 Steps to Create a Thriving Hybrid Culture
Hybrid culture offers benefits for both employees and employers. But because it comes with challenges, there are certain steps you can take to help create a strong and thriving hybrid culture. We’ve gathered six key steps that can help you create the hybrid culture your company needs.
1. Retain the social element
One weakness of hybrid culture is that there can be a loss of team cohesiveness. When teams aren’t all physically in the same location, it can be hard for them to bond and to work together. In addition, employees often enjoy having office friends to talk to during lunch or on breaks, and hybrid culture can make that more difficult.
But hybrid culture doesn’t necessarily mean teams can’t be cohesive. Instead, companies need to make sure they’re retaining the social element as they shift into a more hybrid work environment. Fun team building activities can play a key role. Bonding activities help employees build a community and then work together as they move forward. These activities can be done in a hybrid environment very easily with modern technology. Teamraderie experiences are designed to be done in this type of environment and still provide excellent bonding experiences.
The key with social activities is that they must be designed in a way that provides full access for those employees who are remote that day. If activities are planned to give remote employees the full experience, those in the office will also have an excellent experience, and no one will get left behind.
2. Encourage cross-functional collaboration and cooperation
Community doesn’t just happen within one team. In a traditional workplace, it’s fairly simple to have teams work together. While it may not be as intuitive with hybrid work, cross-functional or interdepartmental work can be another great way to build community and help hybrid culture work well in your company. But typically, cross-functional collaboration doesn’t happen on its own, and the management team will need to actively encourage collaboration.
One great way to create collaboration and cooperation is to hold activities together. Retaining the social element of a company can spread across departments and allow more people to come together in new ways—even without being in the office space. Another way is to create projects that require cooperation and collaboration and provide ways for the employees to meet together and work together with the technology available.
3. Share values
Company values are a great way to create common ground to work from. Keeping company values current and visible can help employees share values. In a study by McKinsey & Company, researchers found that companies with meaningful values as a part of their management strategy were more likely to maintain a healthy work culture during the pandemic. Most pandemic work cultures included some aspect of remote work, so sharing values continues to be important when there’s any level of remote work—like with hybrid culture.
4. Make communication boundaries clear
Communication is key with a hybrid culture. But your communication system should be designed with remote-first communication in mind. Communication systems that allow remote employees to be just as in the loop as in-office employees will help set your hybrid culture up for success.
But even with a great communication system, your team will still need to set up communication boundaries. It can be hard to maintain a healthy work-life balance with work communication happening at all times. Make management’s communication boundaries clear to employees and help them set up their own boundaries that adequately allows them to work but helps them maintain balance. For example, you could make it clear that nobody is expected to respond to emails or other communications after 5pm, and you could make it clear that they are expected to respond during the work day. Boundaries and expectations—with remote-first communication in place—can help your hybrid culture flourish.
5. Provide tools for employees to succeed
Some employees have experience with hybrid workplaces while others won’t. No matter the experience or how long your company has been integrating hybrid culture, it’s important that employees have the tools they need to succeed. Typically these tools include great ways to communicate, the technology at home to be able to work, the software necessary to complete work, tools to collaborate and anything else your teams might need.
6. Continually aim for better
No matter how well you design your hybrid culture, there will always be room for improvement. Designing your workplace to continually aim for better will help your team always be on the lookout for what can be improved and when. Companies that aim for better in their culture, strategies, communication and more, will be the ones that are constantly improving and creating the workplace culture they want.
So instead of stressing to get the perfect hybrid model in place immediately, begin where your team is and continue to aim for better as you go. Companies that are prepared to be flexible and improve will be able to have a strong hybrid workplace culture.
How Teamraderie Can Help
Here at Teamraderie, we’ve designed our experiences specifically to help your teams to build community wherever they are. From bonding to collaborating to inspiring, our experiences are designed to help your team. While our experiences can help any team, we have specifically designed many to improve hybrid culture.
Our experiences are designed to be accessible by both in-office and remote employees. We even have experiences for global teams, if that’s how your company approaches the hybrid model. Even more specifically, we have experiences that are designed to help improve the hybrid culture at your company.
The Bottom Line
Overall, hybrid work is something that is likely to continue and to expand. A robust and healthy hybrid culture offers employees flexibility like never before—while boosting your productivity, retention, and hiring opportunities. Essentially, a strong hybrid model helps your employees feel appreciated and understood, and it can help improve the way your company performs.
But thriving hybrid cultures don’t happen by accident. Following these 6 steps and incorporating Teamraderie experiences into your culture can help you create the hybrid culture your team needs and that will ultimately benefit your company as a whole. Explore Teamraderie experiences today to get started building your hybrid team culture and community.