The hybrid work model is here to stay, folks. The great work-from-home experiment of the past 18 months has been a success; companies realize that employees can be just as productive working from anywhere, and workers are embracing the flexibility of a remote or hybrid workplace.
Some 83% of workers want their company to offer a hybrid work model post-pandemic, and 39% would like the option to work from home up to four days per week. Many hyper-growth companies are listening to employee preferences, with 63% implementing a “productivity anywhere” workforce model and introducing the possibility of a hybrid workplace for employees.
It’s clear that hybrid work is becoming a permanent part of how we work, but what are the potential challenges facing such a model – especially for culture? The hybrid work model can lead to longer working hours, micromanagement, a dissolution of traditional company culture, and opportunities for miscommunication. Thankfully, there’s several ways to avoid these pitfalls and instead come out ahead by building a more productive, streamlined, and positive work culture.
Building a positive hybrid workplace
Along with the hybrid work model comes a noticeable change in company culture. Businesses are concerned with how they can preserve culture with a semi- or predominantly remote workforce. However, it’s important to keep in mind that culture is much more than just office perks and team-building events.
Looking beyond perks
Culture begins with a company’s unique approach to work. Consider the critical characteristics of your ideal culture and how they can be achieved in a hybrid workplace. For example, providing flexibility to employees and trusting them to complete their work from home will provide an excellent framework for creating a transparent, autonomous company culture.
Free lunches and snacks won’t help employees too stressed or busy to eat it. Helping your employees feel more comfortable about the work they do and the way they do it contributes much more to building a healthy hybrid workplace culture.
Setting employees up for success
A positive culture starts with positive workers, so focus on ensuring employees have everything they need to be productive at work. This includes:
- Ensuring employees have the tools and equipment they need to work comfortably at home – including options if the internet or power goes out, as well as funding for new equipment
- Implementing new training opportunities to allow remote workers to gain the same level of onboarding and upskilling as in-office workers
- Making sure remote managers are trained in supervising, managing, and coaching from a distance, along with remote team-building skills
- Ensuring that your hybrid and work-from-home employees have ample opportunity to engage with management
Employee involvement and work-life balance
Changing to a hybrid work model is an excellent opportunity to reassess what constitutes great company culture. Recruitment company Morgan McKinley used surveys during the pandemic to discover what was most important to workers and, based on the results, built a culture that offered a better work-life balance.
To do this, they implemented ideas such as a company-wide 3 p.m. finish on Friday afternoons, cutting hour-long meetings to 45 minutes, and encouraging employees to block out lunchtime each day on their calendar. You’ll notice that all of these new measures provide equal benefits for both in-office and remote employees.
When building your culture, ask employees what’s most important to them and create a company culture that benefits all workers.
Better tools improve hybrid workplace culture
Perhaps the most critical aspect of hybrid work is creating a digital workspace that enables all employees to work together from anywhere. Collaboration is a key cornerstone of hybrid work culture, and it’s a great place to start.
These tools will ensure you are supporting in-house and remote workers to collaborate. Your digital workspace is essential to making sure remote workers don’t feel isolated from their team or that office workers aren’t getting more opportunities. All of this equates to happier employees, less turnover, and more productivity — critical foundations for a solid workplace culture.
Digital tools also support a flexible workplace by allowing employees to work to their own schedules. An emerging trend in hybrid work is asynchronous communication, which enables teams to communicate without the expectation of needing to respond immediately. Team members will have all the information they need to complete a task and complete it in their own time.
Asynchronous communication negates the need to be ‘always on.’ Employees can send questions or provide status updates without everyone being connected 24/7. You can also encourage teams to send daily or weekly updates, so everyone can be transparent in what they’re working on day-to-day.
So, what exactly are the essential tools employees need to foster a better collaborative culture in a hybrid environment? They include:
- A comprehensive digital workspace that captures all work so that projects, resources, communications, and status updates are accessible to remote, hybrid, and in-office workers
- Asynchronous communication tools to combat the ‘always on’ mentality and minimize excess meetings
- Security features to ensure the safety of company information and employee data
Companies can also achieve a comprehensive digital workspace without bombarding teams with excess tools that can cause miscommunication and unnecessary complexity. Businesses should focus on two core tools to facilitate the hybrid model and enable a better culture of digital collaboration.
IM communications tools
An IM tool such as Slack or Microsoft Teams allows employees to engage with each other regularly. Channels can be set up for teams and employees with similar interests to ensure all employees feel included.
IM tools allow employees to have instant and direct access to their colleagues no matter where they are working and help support relationship building in a hybrid environment. Streamlined IM communication and coordination can contribute immensely to building a healthier work culture and environment.
A collaborative work management platform is the core component of the complete digital workspace needed to facilitate hybrid work. Teams can track all projects and tasks in one place and gain full visibility over work across teams and departments.
These platforms allow for asynchronous communication, enabling workers to be flexible with when and how they work. They also integrate with other tools, allowing all work data to be brought together and stored in one workspace, minimizing the need to be logged in to several platforms at once. CWM platforms also have built-in security features designed to support hybrid teams to work from anywhere.
It’s critical to ensure that work and information is protected regardless of where employees work. As businesses become increasingly digitized, bad actors will continue to devise new ways to access and potentially take advantage of your unsecured data.
Provide your IT teams with the tools they need to rigidly safeguard your company’s work, perform structured audits on a regular basis, as well as ensure your employees are educated on proper security protocols and practices before they delve into the world of digital collaboration.
It’s time to reimagine the way we work
The way we work has changed for good, making it the perfect time to reevaluate your workforce based on the changing needs and behaviors of your business and employees. For your company to be resilient and provide the best possible workplace culture, you need to reevaluate work through a lens of flexibility.
A collaborative, autonomous culture for workers provides considerably more benefits than the closed, siloed work culture of the past. A compassionate, flexible work environment will increase employee happiness and engagement, and it’s become more important than ever to break down silos in a hybrid workplace to ensure that employees are dedicated to teamwork and collaboration no matter where they are.
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