Company culture is difficult to define. But one thing we do know about it is that it doesn’t necessarily equate to being in the office. In fact, hybrid work may even improve company culture.
Hybrid workers are the most connected
According to a Gallup analysis, hybrid workers are more likely to feel connected to their company’s culture. Compared to 20% of employees overall, about 23% of hybrid workers strongly agree that they feel connected to their organization.
And leaders have good reason to care about these stats. Employees who feel connected to their culture are:
- 3.7x as likely to be engaged at work
- 5.2x as likely to recommend their organization as a great place to work
- 37% more likely to be thriving
- 68% less likely to feel burned out at work always or very often
- 55% less likely to be looking for a job
Why hybrid is enhancing culture
In person interactions are certainly powerful. But they alone are not enough to create connectedness. So why might hybrid be filling in a little bit of the gap? It might have to do with employee experience.
Ever since hybrid work has spiked amidst the pandemic, organizations have applied intentional effort for both remote and in person employees. Companies have had to make in-office experiences more meaningful to “earn the commute.” Employees would just stay fully remote if they didn’t see any value in going into the office.
On the remote side, leaders are figuring out ways to keep employees feeling connected. Hybrid workers have more hours spent at home which means fewer “water cooler moments” naturally occurring in person.
With all of these efforts, hybrid employees tend to feel supported and cared for which makes them more connected to the values, mission, and purpose of the organization.
Managers have a different experience
Although hybrid work has been positive for most employees, it may be different for managers. Gallup finds hybrid managers feel less connected than remote or on-site managers. This might be because hybrid work planning has been focused on the individual contributors. Managers were the ones tasked with making sure their team had everything they needed. But has there been enough attention on helping the managers themselves?
Hybrid work also allows individual contributors to minimize office distractions and work in comfort. Managers have a lot more on their plates. They’re responsible for creating an engaging and equitable work environment. And it’s harder for them to lean on other managers with less time in person. Many managers may be missing the frequent support of their peers and organization.
Tips for improving hybrid work
It’s no news that hybrid is here to stay for the foreseeable future. So it’s important we fine tune this “new” way of working. There are a few things we can do to make hybrid work better, specifically for managers themselves.
- Give extra support. Managers needs a little extra support. Many don’t have much experience or training leading hybrid teams. Hybrid management is intricate, requiring more frequent communication and coordination.
- Delegate responsibility. Encourage your managers to move some “culture-building” responsibility to their employees. Everyone has a part to play! Plus, it’s good for employees to have some autonomy over how they work and their environment.
- Foster a community. Find unique ways to bring managers together. Manager-to-manager conversations may have been lost in the transition to hybrid work. Consider intentional ways they can come together again to innovate, improve processes, and connect socially. Engaging your managers will keep your company culture strong!
- Invest in development. Help managers learn and grow. Invest in new development programs that work. Tear down the “traditional” stereotype of what a manger does. Emphasize that results and outcomes are more important than watching the clock. The skills needed for supporting wellbeing, coaching, and having authentic conversations can be taught and refined.
Don’t spend time worrying about losing your culture to hybrid work. Fears of culture collapse are likely exaggerated. Plus, we should listen to the employees’ voices asking for flexible work. Hybrid workplaces have the potential to be stronger workplaces with better workplace cultures. But to make it happen, leaders need to focus on the support needed and experiences that bond teams together.