Company culture looks very different in a hybrid environment. Whether you're a company veteran or starting a new position, the way you interact with others must adapt. Keeping the culture you've worked so hard to build is not easy, but it is a priority for any great company. We'll share from our own experience how we've kept a connected company culture throughout the past year.
About our Hybrid Environment
A hybrid environment can have multiple meanings. For some companies, this might mean having employees work from home 1-2 days a week and spend the rest in the office. As for Blackink, our hybrid environment means some people work fully on site and some people are fully remote.
With less than 50 percent capacity in our office, we've been able to effectively social distance while still being productive on site. If any remote employee’s come to the office, our team has created a notification process to make sure we can keep track of everyone in case the need arises for contact tracing.
Overall, our plan mitigates the risk. We focus on keeping the staff healthy and productive, while building a culture that achieves our goals.
Giving a Voice to the Team
When employees’ feel heard, it will increase their buy in to the company which is critical to the success at Blackink IT. As Richard Branson, Founder of Virgin Group, says “Clients do not come first. Employees come first. If you take care of your employees, they will take care of your clients”. At Blackink IT we focus on delivering the highest service and that starts with listening to our employees first.
This mentality was used when it came to creating our hybrid plan. Our leadership team sent out a survey to each employee to take into account where each team member would prefer to work. Some were excited to come back to the office, while others felt more comfortable working from home. It is critical that everyone gets to voice their thoughts, especially on important policies that will effect each employee.
Recognizing other teammates is another way to stay connected and keep a healthy work environment. During monthly meetings, we always start by giving "bravos" to anyone on the team who made an impact on someone in the office. Whether it's helping out with a project or enjoying a nice conversation with them during a lunch break, providing a place to recognize the great things your team brings to the company can strengthen your culture.
New Ways to Connect
One thing that's changed with the hybrid environment is the decrease in spontaneous conversation. With social distancing and not everyone being in the office, it takes a little more initiative to connect with one another.
We all understand that sometimes people feel burned out with too many video meetings. With that in mind, we've tried to make the most of our teams meetings by incorporating fun ways to interact with one another. When we had a recent compliance training meeting, we turned a standard presentation into a friendly Jeopardy-style competition. Who said you can’t have fun while learning?
Another way we've set up a system to interact with coworkers is the Icebreaker app on Teams. Every three weeks, the app pairs two employees with each other to encourage time to meet and get to know them better. This builds spontaneity into our scheduled workdays.
We took spontaneity and connection for granted. No longer do we have the “water cooler” chats. Now we need to be intentional with the way we build in teamwork and communication into our daily lives. Yes, we have goals to attain, but we're all still human, and taking the time to foster your culture through meaningful communication is what will make your hybrid environment successful.