Even before Covid-19 forced companies to send team members home, remote work was on the rise. With some employees staying home and others returning to work, leaders are wondering how to hybridize their company culture.
Having it both ways is possible, if not easy. A remote work culture is inherently less event-based than an in-office one. An in-office culture has a tendency to dominate a remote one.
The good news is, culture has more to do with values and expectations than activities. Here’s how to bring the two cultural contexts together:
1. Keep the Focus on Values
Whether team members work from home or in the office, the company values you expect them to exhibit are the same. Things like integrity, trust, and equality transcend work locations.
Make sure this is apparent in every process your company performs. When hiring, for example, diversity should matter just as much on teams customers can’t see. Dishonesty must have consequences, regardless of where or by whom lies are told.
When everyone agrees on what kind of company they want to be, operating under one culture becomes a whole lot easier. Physical boundaries shouldn’t get in the way of that.
2. Give Equal Attention
Remote employees and office employees shouldn’t receive preferential treatment over each other. Otherwise, jealousies and tensions can develop between the two teams.
This can happen without you even realizing it. Being in close proximity to office workers may lead you to pay more attention to them. Over-managing remote workers is similarly easy to do.
Make a conscious effort to give everyone the same amount of attention. Go out of your way to reach out to one group if you feel they’ve been neglected.
3. Align Your Expectations
What do you expect from your remote workers that you don’t from your office employees? You might not have noticed before that your expectations are different. Keeping them uniform will help blend your different work cultures into one.
For example, you might be counting hours worked for in-office workers and not remote ones. Find a way to measure output and progress that’s fair to both sides to both sides. Maybe you need to begin measuring productivity on the basis of projects completed.
Also be sure to hold everyone accountable equally. One category of workers shouldn’t be disciplined more or less simply because of their location.
4. Offer a Hybrid Program
Employees stuck in the office and those stuck at home have something in common: They appreciate the occasional change in pace. Working in a cubicle can have you longing for the comfort of your couch, while being stuck at home can make you miss the camaraderie of the office.
To bridge this gap, offer a hybrid program that allows employees to experience both settings. For remote workers, provide an office space they can use while at the office. Give in-office workers the option to work from home some or all of the time.
On a remote team, communication can be challenging. Even more difficult, however, is communication when the team is split between the office and individual homes.
One of the best solutions for communication is project management software. This provides a messaging platform for everyone in the organization, no matter where they are. Otherwise, remote workers might not hear an announcement made at the office; office workers might not see a message aimed at the at-home team.
Just as importantly, provide a space for water-cooler conversation. Perhaps a weekly happy hour, where the remote team calls in on Friday afternoons, is in order. A Slack channel for banter is a forum everyone can enjoy.
6. Revamp Your Benefits
For sake of equality, you might be tempted to maintain your benefits program for both parties. But in-office workers might question whether remote ones are getting special treatment. For example, what should time off look like if some people can just work from home?
Get the team together to discuss incentives that are fair for everyone. Perhaps office snacks can be sent to remote team members’ homes. Consider unlimited paid time off as a way to manage paid leave.
7. Introduce All New Hires
While this might sound obvious, new hires on either team won’t feel the whole-company familiarity that existing employees do. Existing employees may struggle to develop relationships with people they’ve never met.
Put extra emphasis on new-hire introductions. Perhaps a team meeting should be called for every new hire. Maybe a happy hour, replete with a show-and-tell session, can help people warm up to each other.
A cohesive, congenial team is harder to achieve with hybrid teams than you might think. Familiarity, if not outright friendship, should always be your goal.
8. Do Key Events Together
Encourage remote workers to attend a company event at least once a quarter. Put particular emphasis on casual events, which let team members let down their hair a bit around each other.
Keep staple events intact. If you had an annual Christmas party before half the team went remote, maintain that tradition. If needed, buy plane tickets for remote workers who may not be able to afford the trip.
What about formal events? Believe it or not, these are less important to bring the team together for. Your team’s metrics meeting works just as well over Zoom as it does in person.
9. Pay Remote Workers Periodic Visits
Right now, remote workers are likely at home in order to keep their distance until Covid-19 has passed. Once it has, send company leaders— or, if remote team members live near one another, the whole team — to their homes for a brief visit.
Don’t make these high-pressure visits. Nobody wants to be caught by surprise in sweatpants or with Cheeto fingers. If remote team members don’t feel comfortable inviting others in their homes, enjoy a porch party together.
10. Use The Right Tools to Align Remote and In-Office Cultures
Whether it’s about employment management, their project management, time tracking or Cloud based data storage, you need to use the right tools not only for aligning remote and in-office culture but also to enhance your business productivity.
Never the less, Whether we talk about maintaining remote culture while working remotely, whether it’s about building a strong remote culture or Blending a remote work culture and office culture together, this is gonna be a difficult task.
But if you Stay in touch with everyone, stay on top of introductions, and most of all, stay focused on your company’s values and traditions, you will get out of this problem and bring maximum profitability for your organization, for your business. Cheers (Y)