Corporate Culture and the Hybrid Workplace – Why it Matters
While the world may have opened up again as of 2022, the importance of flexible or hybrid workplaces post-pandemic only continues to grow. This is highlighted in recent findings from Working during the Pandemic: The future of work is hybrid, a study prepared by UNSW Canberra Public Service Research Group and CQ University, which found that almost three in five employees stated that their productivity was higher when working from home than in the office. Flexibility is also playing a major role in attracting employees to new roles, with many individuals stating this as a key requirement in considering new job opportunities. As companies vie for the best talent in industries facing employee shortages, embracing the flexible or hybrid workplace demonstrates an awareness of employee needs.
Red Leaf CEO Ian Schubach sees the focus on flexible and hybrid workplaces as a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for corporate leaders to reshape organisational culture. “What makes the next few months special is the fact that most people have been starved of interaction and connection. They’re hungry to gather and want to share business problems and the solutions they see. This, together with the massive advances in video conference technology, presents leaders the unique opportunity to influence the way people feel, think and act at scale,” says Ian.
What is a hybrid workplace?
Hybrid workplaces are designed to mix both in-office and remote work. For some teams, this may look like two days at home and three days in the office; for others, team members are invited to use the in-person office as and when they see fit.
Hybrid workplaces can pose challenges to traditional management structures. If your team has always met in person, embracing digital solutions can enable a transition to hybrid work environments. However, shifting to digital meetings isn’t just as simple as purchasing a Zoom subscription – considering how your employees communicate, brainstorm, ideate and problem-solve when the physical elements of togetherness are removed takes a much greater awareness of your company culture, your employee’s workloads and the communication styles your team utilises.
By carefully examining your workflows and processes, you can identify opportunities to build for the future through intentional hybrid workflow management.
The elements of a flexible workplace
Flexible workplaces aren’t just limited to physical work environments. Instead, the notion of a flexible workplace extends to considerations such as work/life integration, parenting and carer requirements, mental and physical health management, and remote working optimisations.
These may include:
- Adapting to employee-preferred tech or software
- New collaborations across departments
- Working from home part- or full-time
- Flexible working hours
- Enhanced employee trust for independent work
- Condensing employee schedules into fewer days
Balancing employee and employer priorities
While some employers may hear the terms ‘flexible’ and ‘hybrid’ and see challenges to the status quo, it’s those who see opportunity who will be most effectively positioned for the future. By finding a way to balance the priorities of both the employer and the employee, teams can benefit from a work structure that recognises the human needs of the workforce while also building intentionality around achieving business goals and KPIs.
If you’re an employer looking to introduce flexible/hybrid work policies into your workplace, consider the following:
- The team dynamic. Do you have a mixture of young professionals and working parents within your team? Different flexible options will be of greater value to varying demographics, so consider the needs of your specific employees (and future hires) when looking at the flexible attributes you’ll prioritise.
- The ebb and flow of daily workflows. A customer-facing team will need to meet different expectations of availability than a team of back-end developers. By analysing your daily workflows for customer touchpoints, accessibility and external requirements, you can identify the business priorities that need to be maintained alongside flexible allowances.
“Don’t waste this occasion by tweaking the same old PowerPoints and expect people to jump on board. This is a new world, and team members are looking for different ways to engage. Executives should be defining and aligning behind their ideal future state and then sharing that positive story in a rapid way,” says Ian. “Do something different to demonstrate how things are changing. People will notice.”
If you’re looking to build connectivity between team members while instilling flexible/hybrid work policies, Red Leaf’s Mountain Climbing virtual adventure brings teams together to perform at a high level. Test the strength and commitment of your team as you trek together across New Zealand’s Southern Alps, building resilience, adaptability, grit and determination in the process.