Hybrid has been the buzzword for the year 2021 and will continue to be in 2022. To make this work, we need to ensure we have a clear strategy towards hybrid work, reimagine the work, workplace & workforce and ensure the company’s culture reaches everyone in the hybrid set up
According to me the ‘culture element’ is the most difficult and the most important to crack. Culture is the secret sauce to make Hybrid Work work and make it more productive. In these new ways of working, I am sharing a few ideas which can also help culture thrive & also adapt…
Leading with context, not control
In a distributed work environment, this has become even more important. To manage hybrid teams, leaders need to let go of controls and micromanagement. Instead leaders need to inspire their teams about the goals, vision and objectives so that everyone understands the context well. Leaders need to empower their teams by delegating & letting people take decisions. This gives people more freedom which leads to more responsibility and better performance management.
Increase feedback moments
It's become even more important in a hybrid set-up to give real time feedback across, not just from manager to the direct report. But also from the teams to the leaders, also from a new hire to the CEO, also from an individual to his/her client and also from the family to the individual. As home becomes office & office becomes home, to be successful in this set-up, it's important to ensure family plays an important role in this.
Feedback is something which is generally resisted and no one gives feedback until asked. Companies have to ensure feedback is an experience which everyone looks forward to, and to ensure the intent is to help an individual become a better version of themselves. Building a culture of Psychological Safety is important where no one feels intimidated to share what’s on their mind. Tools & Technology will also play an important role in the hybrid set-up in giving easy real time feedback, as easy it is to give an Uber rider real time feedback. In the context of fewer in-person interactions, companies have to ensure instant and honest feedback is part of the culture
Lack of Connections since the pandemic has impacted people’s wellbeing and balance. Empathy, Building Trust, giving Autonomy and space to team-members has become even more important in building connections
First is the connection to the 'Teams' or having any social Connection. For that it's important to have some regular rituals for the teams
In-Person Connection - Each team decides which days in the week or month they have to be in office for in-person office. It can be thrice a week or it can be thrice a month. But pre-deciding it and the leader ensuring people follow it is very important. If you leave it open-ended, people will come to the office on different days and that doesn’t help in in-person connection.
Virtual Connection – Have regular informal meetings, regular check-in exercises before every meeting. Just start the meeting with any 1 pre-decided question and let each person on the team voice out. Questions could be – “How are you doing?”, “What’s worrying you today?”, “What is 1 fear that’s limiting you?”, “What did you do over the weekend”?. Having experienced these in my company, I understand the power of these rituals if they are sustained.
Second is the Connection to the Company – Regular Communication with people through town halls, informal leader coffee connects, hybrid networking events etc is very important to let people know what all is happening in the company. Leaders need to take that extra effort to make themselves available for people and make it easy for people to approach them anytime. Leaders need to share their stories, vulnerabilities, fears to make it comfortable for others to share
New Hire connection to the company is a difficult one to crack to ensure they experience the culture in a similar fashion had they been in office.
In the last 2 years since the pandemic, people have discovered / rekindled multiple passions outside work. It could be working on their startup idea, it could be teaching dance / music online, it could be becoming a free-lance speaker / writer/coach or it could be becoming a social media influencer. Companies have to encourage people and make it easy for people to pursue & probably even monetize such Side Gigs or let people do mini-internships if nothing confidential of the company is shared and if work outcomes are not affected. Letting people pursue their passion alongside work actually helps increase productivity at work.
Sustaining, strengthening and adapting culture to hybrid set up isn’t easy. Regular enablement & training of people, managers and leaders is needed to ensure culture helps people perform at their very best. Having the right balance of rituals and flexibility will make this transition seamless and also will help people to imbibe the culture and values of the company. This is going to be a journey as we are all learning along the way.