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How to Strengthen Company Culture and Purpose in a Hybrid Work Model

Friday, September 24, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way organizations are working, most notably with the swift short- to medium-term implementation of work-from-home policies, either by choice or by law. The page is turning now, and a new chapter begins with hybrid work. Indeed, combining remote and on-site work could be the best of both worlds for many organizations. 

 

But is this hybrid work model a smart move? How can companies make sure their purpose and values are understood and integrated by employees? Turns out it’s all about fostering a corporate culture with the right tools and strategies.

Four Models for Hybrid Work

Hybrid work basically blends remote and on-site work. Most organizations will likely fall into one of these four models:

  • The informal hybrid model has some remote work and some on-site work, depending on personal preferences, family situation and expectations. This is the trickiest arrangement for managers because of potential communication issues and challenges associated with keeping both remote and on-site employees in the loop. 
  • The scheduled hybrid model has all employees working remotely on specific days and all employees working on site the rest of the time. This arrangement is less flexible, but communication is easier. However, there’s the practical problem of maintaining office space for the entire team, especially in cities where pricey real estate is a major expense for organizations.
  • The selective hybrid model has all employees who are able to work remotely encouraged to do so, while some of the workforce must stay on site. This model could create a divide between employees, for instance between blue collar and white-collar workers.
  • The mandatory hybrid model, where employees see remote work as a punishment because they couldn’t or wouldn’t adapt to it for various reasons (no suitable workspace, childcare issues, disruptive environment, etc.). These employees would rather work on site and find remote work arrangements “unfair” because they feel they’re working harder. 

Tools and Strategies to Build and Strengthen Corporate Culture in a Hybrid Work Model

A corporate culture is shared and nurtured, leveraging the organization’s history and vision, shared values and traditions. In a hybrid work model, a certain number of tools and strategies are required to develop informal communication, address any ambiguity and create a successful experience.

The right tools lead to productive and positive relationships. Beyond Zoom, asynchronous collaboration platforms like Asana, Trello, Slack, or Notion are key for the smooth implementation of a hybrid model without jeopardizing organizational communication.

Management is crucial because corporate culture is built on experiences and managers are integral to creating these experiences. However, managing employees in a hybrid model is an acquired skill. For instance, tasks and locations must be clearly defined—remote work may be suggested to increase productivity for analysis and in-depth projects, while on-site work may be required for meetings, brainstorming, and collaborative work to promote information sharing.

A seamless employee experience is important for teams. Everything must be simple, digital, and intuitive, from vacation management processes and IT support to career development and corporate activities.

Soft skills are essential to implement a thoughtful and understanding hybrid work model, especially in a world where employees must cope with uncertainty. Emotional and cultural intelligence, active listening, empathy, benevolence and boldness are all skills that make communication and adaptation easier.

Good leadership opens the door to experimenting with new work models. A Future Forum study shows that employees who have the option to work a flexible schedule score better on factors such as stress, work-life balance and productivity. With this arrangement, everyone needs to be connected and able to react quickly for a few hours a day, but the rest of the work can be completed according to each person’s own capacity for creativity and innovation, whether early in the morning or late at night.

No Matter the Work Model, The Ongoing Use of a Virtual Community Is a Way to Strengthen Ties and Culture

A virtual community aims to recreate the same feelings of belonging for both remote and on-site employees. A platform like Virbela helps strengthen corporate culture in a hybrid work model. All organizations can benefit from a continuous presence in a virtual space where everybody can:

●      Feel a strong sense of belonging

●      Exchange in a friendly manner

●      Work remotely as a virtual team 

●      Enjoy fun and relaxing informal moments 

●      Create opportunities for informal socialization

●      Leverage social interactions in physical environments replicated virtually 

 

“Out of sight, out of mind”—it can happen when organizations don’t know how to facilitate remote work. Embracing digital transformation is crucial to avoid massive workplace disengagement. The key is to develop corporate culture and bring it online to leverage the best of both models while aligning with the company’s values and missions.


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