Hybrid & Remote Working. Is It Working?

For the 50% of companies that have the privilege of choosing in-person, remote or hybrid working, it’s no longer a case of IF your company is doing “Hybrid”, it’s a case of HOW your company is doing it. Covid-19 fast-tracked and forced almost all companies into remote working and now we’re living in the aftermath. 

How does it look and feel for you and your people? 

Overall, WFH wardrobes taught us the art of business on the top and comfy on the bottom. WFH also taught us the painfully incessant “Brian you’re on mute again” as well as the luxury of no morning peak hour traffic on the commute. 

A recent survey shows that 91% of employees who work remotely at least part of the time are hoping to continue doing so post-pandemic. Considering hybrid and remote working as a strategic imperative helps combat the assumption that employees will return to working in the office like pre-pandemic environments. 

In the current climate of high employee turnover, your employees have more leverage now than ever before. 

How can you embrace this employee desire for work flexibility and use it to attract and retain talent?

Decentralisation of the workplace has resulted in significant competitive advantages with the first movers to this pivot hiring talent across the globe.

As Hayden Brown CEO of Upwork says, “I can’t tell you the number of CEOs I talked to who are thinking, I have to solve the diversity challenge in my business, and remote work is one of the key tools…we have to let go of this very office-centric culture and incorporate people who are in a lot of geographies.” 

Hiring talent without geographical boundaries also comes with complexities and a competition shift because talent from your local neighbourhood could also be poached internationally. Here you need to be careful of losing what you have whilst looking for something else.

If you’re spending 8 hours of your day doing something it’s got to have personal meaning for you or else what are you doing it for? 

How do you ensure every person finds personal meaning in their work?

There’s no single working model that works for every business. So you need to listen to your people, see what THEY want and need. Don’t ever assume. Incentivizing employees to return to the office at least once a week is now being attempted by companies with varying levels of success. 

Think beyond free Friday drinks and pizza. 

How can you tailor incentives for your people, specific to their desires and interests? If you’ve got a team of foodies perhaps consider hosting a wine and cheese tasting after work on Friday. Or maybe you’ve got a team of animal lovers so lunch break cuddles with Labrador puppies facilitated by a local pet shop could incentivise getting your people back in the office.

After identifying whatever is it that your people enjoy doing, integrating it into the work ‘place’ is proving to be a successful way of navigating the difficulty in getting employees back into the office. 

There is a common assumption that hybrid working styles can offer employees and organisations “the best of both worlds”. In actual fact, if not implemented strategically, hybrid working could prove to be the worst of both worlds… 

When hybrid work brings out the BEST of both worlds

✅ Employees engage in well-integrated communication channels between remote workers and those in the office. There is an investment in effective technology to execute this. The employee experience with communication is seamless. 

✅ Teams are cooperating well and lining up in-person days to facilitate productive collaboration. 

✅ Employees feel supported with genuine mental and emotional health policies, ensuring they don’t feel burnout with this hybrid work model. 

When hybrid work brings out the WORST of both worlds

Bias visibility starts to emerge in management. Opportunities for growth and development such as promotions are given to employees who are visibility seen at the office frequently rather than remote workers. This bias fuels discrimination and proves to be an inequality in the company. 

❌ Employees are experiencing a lack of communication and there is a disconnect between remote workers and those in the office. This builds fragmentation and diminishes productivity. 

Employees feel exhausted because they are constantly following up and navigating the shift between office and at home workspaces. They feel there is a lack of consistency and rhythm in their work. Employees who work in a hybrid model often say it’s more emotionally draining than remote and more taxing than full-time.

When employees are not physically together working in the office,-company culture is the glue that helps company values to be upheld, purpose to be lived out and goals to be achieved all whilst ensuring productivity in such a trust driven environment. 

In the words of Tracey Halverson from Fastspot, “The old rules of what makes a great team still apply, whether you’re a remote team or not. You can’t build a culture if you don’t have trust, accountability, and mutual respect. The best way to kill a culture is to stop trusting people and stop giving people the respect and the responsibilities they most likely want in their jobs.” 

Considering how company culture can be hugely influenced by hybrid and remote working there is an emphasis on the requirement for a clear and well-defined recruitment strategy. As new employees join your workforce remotely there is a need for additional effort to help them adapt into this new culture, particularly without face-to-face connection. 

Underestimating how office gossip and banter can boost employee engagement has been revealed in hybrid and remote working environments, as employees no longer have the opportunity to engage in brief, organic, spontaneous and private face to face conversations.

Office gossip can be considered the silent contributor to your company culture. Finding the fine line between the office gossip that connects people and fosters healthy social relationships versus the nasty office gossip that divides employees and hinders company culture is proving to be a challenge here, especially now in a remote and hybrid environment. 

Remote and hybrid working can turn your good culture into a great culture and a bad culture into a horrible culture. 

Regardless of how hybrid and remote working is working for your company, it’s here to stay and it’s no longer a desirable job add-on for your people. At the Culture Equation, we believe company culture is the core essence holding this complex workplace style together. 

Contact us today to see how we can equip you and your team with tools on how to navigate the inevitable hybrid and remote working structure. 

If you’d like a 30-min Free No-Obligation Consultation, we’d love to have a chat with you.

Want to hear more about what we do at The Culture Equation? Sign up to our newsletter or follow us on Linkedin.