Nine out of 10 organisations are currently switching to a hybrid work model. Granted, it’s an agreeable compromise between employees who prefer to keep working from home (WFH) and companies who are still hesitant about a fully remote set-up.
However, implementing a hybrid work model takes time. It’s not as simple as scheduling Mondays and Wednesdays as WFH days each week. While a flexible schedule is crucial, there’s another aspect that is critical for its success: company culture.
Company culture always plays an integral part in any organisation’s achievements. These shared values, beliefs, and attitudes serve as the company’s foundation, especially during difficult times. Just take a look at the companies that have survived (and even thrived) during the pandemic.
Hence, if you’ve just implemented (or are planning to implement) a hybrid work model, here are three cultural norms you’ll need to overcome first:
Disregarding Toxic Work Culture
One of the main reasons why employees leave is due to a toxic work environment.
Many employers choose to leave culture to chance. Rather than addressing red flags, they just shrug it off and hope that it resolves itself. More often than not, the company’s culture ends up evolving backwards and driving away key staff.
This problem isn’t exclusive to face-to-face settings either. In fact, hybrid work models (and even fully remote work set-ups) can also struggle with the same. Vague priorities, rampant miscommunication, and problematic behaviour are common in a toxic culture.
And if these are already present before you even shift to a hybrid setup, it’s best to address it head-on.
Consult with your teams and together, redefine the culture fit for hybrid working. For instance, how can office-based and WFH employees collaborate on projects? What will be the default mode of communication? If there are problems online and onsite, who can they reach out to?
Doing this beforehand can help build a strong foundation of belonging, empathy, and acceptance between your team members, regardless of where they work.
Requiring Face-to-Face Work When It Isn’t Necessary
Remote work works. Most employees appreciate the flexibility, and many employers benefit from reduced costs and increased productivity. It’s unsurprising then that many prefer it to the point that they’d rather leave and work for another company than be forced to give it up.
So, unless your company functions in an industry that requires onsite work 24/7, you may want to reconsider requiring everyone to return to the office full-time. You wouldn’t want your turnover rate to spike.
Thus, opt for hybrid work as an alternative and set a fixed number of days where people need to return to the office. But keep an open mind the whole time and remember that there is a learning curve to all of this.
It’s also advisable to listen to your employees when they speak up about which setup is more productive for them. Someone might prefer to work remotely on most days since it allows for deep focus and minimal interaction. And if they’re particularly productive and valuable, consider allowing them to stick to a WFH setting.
What you want to encourage is a work-from-anywhere approach. Let people know that the office is open anytime for collaboration-based tasks and that WFH can still be the default option for those who prefer it.
As long as your team can deliver results, where they work shouldn’t matter.
Failing to Trust Your Employees
Hybrid work will never succeed if you don’t. Period.
So long as they don’t give you any reason not to, always assume the best out of your team members. For example, you should trust that each one of your employees will endeavour to accomplish their assigned tasks regardless of where they’re based. Over time, this will give them confidence and some accountability.
If you try to micromanage them, your employees may feel uneasy, anxious, and unmotivated. They will also hesitate to reach out when they need assistance. As a result, their performance may suffer.
Sure, implementing a hybrid work model isn’t easy. It would involve managing people from different backgrounds and cultures. However, if the efforts lead to an inclusive culture, a flexible arrangement, and a trusting work relationship, everything will be worth it in the end.
Need help? Remote Staff has been assisting AU SMEs and entrepreneurs with finding and hiring skilled remote workers from the Philippines since 2007. We also assist with onboarding and provide full support throughout your working relationship to help you avoid these cultural pitfalls as much as possible.