The modern workplace is unrecognizable from even five years ago. People commuted to work five days a week. They clocked in between 8:30 to 9:00 am and clocked out around 5:30 pm. They met and talked with their co-workers face to face. These were the facts of our working lives—facts that workplace cultures were built around.
Organizations are faced with a complex challenge: How can they develop a working arrangement that employees enjoy without sacrificing their workplace culture?
One answer is to develop a hybrid culture that allows employees to choose when they go into the office and when they work remotely. That provides an opportunity for connection, both remotely and in-person. That rests in a comfortable middle ground that maintains flexibility while reaping the rewards of in-person collaboration.
In this article, we dive into how you can build your company culture in a hybrid work environment.
Hybrid work culture refers to an organization's values, beliefs, norms, behaviors, and attitudes based on a workplace model that is a mix of in-person and remote environments. This can look different between different organizations, but in general, it is some combination of working in the office on some days while working from home on the others.
Why hybrid cultures succeed
Employees want flexibility. For most people, remote work is a nice reprieve from the daily commute, the early mornings, and packed meals. Yet without the option of an office to work from once in a while, solitude begins to feel like isolation.
Creating a hybrid work culture is an obvious solution. Allowing employees to choose when they come into the office means each person gets to pick what works best for them. Want to go into the office five days a week? No problem. Prefer to do the commute on a bi-weekly basis? That works too.
Successful hybrid cultures also understand that even fully remote employees want to connect to their co-workers. Even though someone may have little interest in going to the office, they’d attend an in-person event or chat with some co-workers at a happy hour. Providing opportunities for non-work-related chats to happen is a key part of creating a great hybrid culture.
Hybrid workplace cultures vary between organizations. It’s not a one size fits all type of deal–you should consider the idiosyncrasies of your business and industry before rolling out your policy.
The next section dives into how some companies have set up their hybrid workplaces and how you can create a thriving culture of your own.
Cultivating a hybrid culture that works
Design a hybrid model that makes sense for your business
Hybrid workplace models require a high amount of intention. Not only do you need to closely examine the digital divide and enhance communication channels, but most importantly, tailor specific arrangements for each team.
As we mentioned earlier, there are many ways to structure your hybrid policy. Some places require people to be in the office at least once or twice a week so teams can work and collaborate. Others don’t care about going to the office at all and have fully embraced asynchronous communication.
For example, Shopify’s work from anywhere program allows employees to work from, well, anywhere. From the sunny shores of Costa Rica to a coffee shop in Berlin. Anyone who wants to work from one of their offices is more than welcome to do so as well. And if you enjoy the office lifestyle but don’t live near one of theirs, they’ll provide you with a stipend to rent a coworking space. Airbnb rolled out a similar policy and 800,000 people flocked to their careers page.
Your teammates might not be spread across the world, but they could be working at different times. All hybrid policies should include clear guidelines about communication. People should know which platforms to use for messaging, what the expectations around response times are, and when they can schedule meetings.
The first draft of a hybrid policy should address the following:
How often employees must be in-office.
Rules around communication.
Whether there are flexible working hours.
If employees can work from other cities and/or countries.
Remember that you don’t have to get this right on the first try. Your hybrid policy will evolve as you collect feedback and get a sense of what works best for your business.
Optimize onboarding for success
The employee experience starts with onboarding. Paying attention to your organization’s hybrid onboarding process to save you time and resources in the long run.
Here are some tips you can practice to ensure your employees have all the resources they need to succeed in their roles:
Develop a two-week-long onboarding plan:
Because remote team members take longer to onboard, creating a two-week plan that gives them plenty of time and flexibility will help reduce the stress and anxiety of venturing into a new job. In this plan, you can consider making some onboarding tasks for them to complete, such as scheduling meetings with different department heads to learn more about their respective roles at the company. This can also help them feel more comfortable and connected with people outside their immediate work circle.
Regular check-ins and performance plans:
Design and set expectations with new hires where you check in every 30 days for the first three months to go over some learning, performance, and personal goals. Start slow and give them small projects at first before ramping up to larger initiatives. Take this opportunity to discuss how their work experience has been and if they like the work they’ve been doing.
Create buddy systems or cohorts for new employees:
If new hires start around the same time, onboarding them together is a great way to save people’s time while promoting connections between the new employees. For example, in the previously mentioned onboarding tasks, the new hires can schedule meetings with other department heads together to prevent over-meeting.
Establish expectations early:
Lastly, streamline all employee communication in a centralized, accessible place. Ideally, your employee handbook should thoroughly outline hybrid arrangements and protocols.
From cultivating to growing your hybrid culture
If you follow the advice outlined above, you’ll be well on your way to creating a hybrid culture that makes employees excited to get out of bed in the morning. But that’s only the first step. Once you’ve laid the soil, it’s time to create the conditions required for your hybrid culture to blossom.
Help everyone feel more successful at work. Anywhere, anytime.