Employer brand, HR Trends • 3 min reading

Maintaining a corporate culture in a hybrid context?

What happens to the culture of an organization when the hybrid work model is implemented? How do you maintain or build a culture when you’re only in the office part-time?

One of the aspects that comes up regularly during our Live Discussions and D-RH Live HR-D is the fragility of corporate culture with employees working remotely. Is it possible to rebuild in a hybrid context?

Recognizing That Expectations Have Changed

Nowadays, people want a job that is more than just a job. It must be aligned with their values and life goals, and it must offer more flexibility.

In this perspective, a company’s organizational culture needs to give meaning to what employees accomplish. In addition, employees want to be more involved in decision-making. This will in turn make them more motivated, more engaged, and more productive.

Establishing and disseminating your organizational culture is a must that allows you to promote your employer brand, as we pointed out in a recent article. Indeed, in a candidate-driven market, neglecting your organizational culture would be a serious mistake.

Meeting the Challenge

It must be said that building an organizational culture and communicating it effectively are not always easy, even in a more traditional context. So, when meeting rituals are scarce, and communication is less fluid due to distance, relationships can break down and corporate culture can take a hit.

However, it’s not an insurmountable task. It’s important to understand that this is a challenge that can be overcome if you put in the effort. Speaking of effort, the participants in our discussions were clear: you have to experiment, and that takes energy and creativity. But in the end, it’s worth it.

I would go further. For some companies, the introduction of the hybrid work model represents an opportunity to re-establish a strong culture that will promote talent retention. It’s even a necessity in these times of labour shortage.

As such, it’s crucial to get managers engaged in this process, to define simple, clear and precise missions, and to communicate them effectively. It’s also important to identify the needs of employees, whether through surveys or discussions.

Here are some elements that can promote the development of a corporate culture in a hybrid work environment:

  • Involve people.
  • Focus on simple values. Don’t make the list too long,
  • Make objectives more tangible and take the time to communicate them well.
  • Offer personalized coaching, remotely or in person.
  • Encourage managers to be more accessible and show more empathy.
  • Organize shorter, but more frequent, remote meetings.
  • Hold informal in-person and remote meetings to bring people together.
  • Provide mental health support.
  • Provide training to managers so that they can better detect signs of distress or disengagement among their employees.
  • Promote the employee assistance program.
  • Set up a mutual aid service between colleagues.
  • Reduce micromanagement.
  • Trust employees more.
  • Allow flexible working hours based on specific parameters or not.
  • Be transparent.
  • Keep the conversation going and adapt to the needs of each team.

Creating Relationships and Redefining the Workplace

While some surveys show that 72% of managers would like to implement a hybrid work model, most are seeking to establish stronger links with their colleagues and employees above all.

The idea is to leverage moments when meetings are possible, or even better, plan them regularly in order to increase team spirit. It may be appropriate to explain the benefits of meeting in person to employees, to illustrate what they can get out of it. It’s also important to encourage managers to develop their leadership as they convey a clear vision of  their organization’s culture.

Reflecting on What the Hybrid Work Model Involves

Some of the approaches mentioned above can be implemented now to promote corporate culture development in a hybrid work environment. It goes without saying that some of the approaches don’t apply to all types of jobs or to all businesses, but they will certainly help in your reflections.

Finally, before being adopted, the hybrid work model must be examined on two levels: time and space. By taking these aspects into account, you can establish the different scenarios that may be suitable for both employees and managers. But first, it’s important to understand how the work is to be carried out (workflow) and to respect the values and mission of the company in order to determine which strategies to adopt.

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