How to Build a Hybrid Work Culture

August 19, 2022

Major workforce disruptions have led to new preferences among workers—here’s how today’s organizations can keep up.

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In the wake of the biggest workforce disruption in recent memory, many organizational leaders still feel like they’re building the airplane as they’re flying it. High turnover and disruptions to operations have forced today’s managers, executives, and HR teams to rethink their entire workforce strategy, and keeping up with ever-changing employee needs proves more challenging than ever.

New norms and worker preferences have forced organizations to reassess performance measurements, hybrid workforce connections, employee learning and development, and the balance between in-person and remote work initiatives. Organizations that do this successfully end up with a richer, more engaging hybrid work culture that merges the benefits of face-to-face and virtual collaboration.

What is a Hybrid Work Culture?

Hybrid work refers to the combination of in-person and remote working environments that became popular in the wake of the pandemic. Therefore, hybrid work culture is the shared goals and values of an organization’s workforce, whether they’re on- or off-site, facilitated by the company’s policies and practices. With 87% of Americans choosing hybrid work when given the option and 58% working remotely at least once a week, hybrid work culture is a necessity for attracting and retaining top talent. 

It doesn’t come without its challenges, though. While an office environment naturally encourages collaboration and casual connections, hybrid work requires more intention on the organization’s part. Otherwise, remote employees can become disconnected, leading to a loss of team cohesion.

Building a hybrid culture can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be! Research shows a wide array of benefits of hybrid work, including better work/life balance, reduced operating costs, and more flexibility. Organizations can use these as a starting point to build a hybrid work culture that prioritizes employees’ health and happiness without sacrificing productivity.

How to Build & Sustain Company Culture in a Hybrid Model

For those tasked with building a hybrid work culture, the natural question is, “Where do I start?” It goes beyond moving the existing in-office company culture to a virtual setting. Instead, think of it as an opportunity to start from scratch and consider all facets of the employee experience when creating something new.

Today’s employees want the perks of being on-site with the flexibility of remote work. That means they’re looking for the purposeful connections and professional development they get in the office, as well as the option to work from their preferred location during asynchronous hours. More than anything, employees want a consistent experience regardless of where and when they’re working.

Focus on Purpose when Connecting in a Hybrid World

Our need to connect—whether for work or personal reasons—has increased over the past year.  The catch? The connection workers are craving now has evolved from simply needing to see friendly faces to wanting to come together with a larger goal in mind. 

“I’m not connecting like I was in April 2020 just for the sake of seeing someone else,” said Paylocity’s Director of Strategic Talent Management and HR, Kate Grimaldi, in Paylocity’s recent webinar. “I’m connecting with purpose.”

And that purpose can be anything from being a resource for each other to contributing to the co-creation of an engaged work culture. 

Now that workers are used to untethered environments, organizations should use all-in-one HR technology that helps advance the employee experience while also intentionally giving their workers the meaningful connections they need to build the social capital that makes businesses thrive.

  • Most businesses need communication tools but find the ones that emphasize community. Use platforms that allow you to easily reach employees wherever they are, whether in person or at home, and facilitate employee engagement with each other and the organization. Community-focused tools centralize accurate and timely company communication while giving employees the peer collaboration and connection they crave so they can be more engaged, aware, and productive.
  • Countless studies have highlighted the importance of social connections at work. While employees used to form these relationships at the water cooler and in the break room, organizations with a hybrid model need to leverage technology and let workers co-create the company culture. Peer recognition tools enable this process by fostering connections and encouraging workers to acknowledge the peers they work with and celebrate each other anytime, from anywhere.
  • Hybrid work isn’t just where employees want to work but when they want to work. Therefore, organizations need a way to connect face to face, regardless of location and time. Synchronous and asynchronous video tools do this — they empower employees, managers, and leadership to create personalized messages, put names to faces, and level up engagement, performance, and learning.

Read our article on how to improve connection in the workplace for more tips on building purposeful connections.

Strike Balance in Scheduling, Office Usage, Locations

As the effects of the pandemic spread, the need for flexibility with hours, schedules, and office locations did, too. While few organizations made the transition to their new models seamlessly, those that did shift well were the ones who made it an ongoing process by asking their workforces what they wanted, seeing what stuck, and evaluating the data. 

The results? Most companies that leaned into flexible initiatives are still experiencing productivity and meeting business goals by embracing this adaptability.

“We’ve seen productivity grow from the people who are given this opportunity to work from anywhere,” said Senior Director of Operations at KNA Solutions, John Nicholson.

After living in a remote working world, it should come as no surprise that technology is what facilitates this balance. Employees need a way to collaborate with coworkers while not at the office, and they need access to the organization’s systems at their convenience. Video conferencing and messaging tools probably come to mind as necessities for connection.  But as another example, more robust scheduling technology simplifies shift switching, and mobile HR apps enable employees to change their schedules while on the go.

Indeed, mobile-friendly, all-in-one HR and payroll solutions with consumer-driven functionality have enabled today’s organizations to meet workers where they are while still keeping them connected, engaged, learning, and growing. 

Embrace Technology to Push Forward Learning and Development

Amid these tectonic workforce shifts, one critical question many organizations have found themselves asking is, “How do we make programs impactful for employee development and learning?”

That’s to say employees seek a flexible learning experience that meets their needs and fits into their workflow, whether that’s watching a quick video before wrapping up for the day or leveraging virtual check-ins for those who need more one-on-one time.

“We’re doing engagement check-ins and learning and development sessions. Because we can’t physically see everyone, we’re really making a stretch to ensure that they still know that we’re here and that wherever they’re working from, they’re being embraced,” said John Nicholson.

While we’re starting to see that both managers and direct reports work well in a distributed world, effectively managing a remote team is still challenging for both new and seasoned managers. Organizations can ensure employees are still developing by:

  • Building a repository of tailored, bite-sized, mobile content for workers in every department at every level
  • Providing content generated by subject matter experts within the organization
  • Accessing out-of-the-box resources on health and wellness, working remotely, workplace inclusion, and more
  • Offering training in self-service portals or mobile apps

Additionally, today’s HR and payroll solutions make it more feasible than ever for managers and direct reports to stay on the same page—even if they’re in different workspaces—by providing performance management capabilities that empower them to:

  • Have development conversations through one-on-one mentorship opportunities
  • Create and check in about goals
  • Participate in their development through self-appraisals
  • Facilitate ongoing, goals-driven conversations as part of employee evaluation using tools like Journals for performance management
  • Give employees a record of their tasks, goals, and accomplishments

Through modern, user-friendly technology, organizations can engage their remote and in-office workers and significantly improve the employee experience.

Ensure the In-Person and Remote Experience is Equitable

Perhaps one of the toughest nuts to crack has been balancing employees’ desire for flexibility while keeping them connected with others in the organization.

While prior to the pandemic, most organizations took an office-first approach to culture, many— including Paylocity—now combine and streamline critical processes like training and onboarding to create an equitable, modern, mobile-first experience for every new employee. Paylocity, for example, used their employee survey tool to ask people their preferences and found most wanted a hybrid approach to work. 

Check out these resources to get and stay agile: 

  • Onboarding tools simplify collecting new hire information while introducing new employees to people and groups that set them up for success in the organization.
  • Employee self-service portals make it easy for new hires and seasoned employees to access and change their information 24/7.
  • New hire check-ins and employee surveys help further streamline onboarding and keep turnover low by uncovering areas of improvement in the hiring and onboarding process.
  • Learning management systems make it easy to check in during important new-hire milestones.

Other employee experience tools, like Paylocity’s Community and Premium Video, enable workers in different locations to experience the connection they crave while enjoying the independence they want. 

Accommodating a Hybrid Culture with Comprehensive HR and Payroll Solutions

In the past two years, organizations have relied on HR technology to move initiatives forward. However, to succeed, today’s HR professionals and organizational leaders must lean into iterative processes as we continue to learn what today’s workers want. Thanks to comprehensive HR and payroll solutions, we can move closer to achieving these goals and continuing to build company culture at home and in the office. 

Learn more about how to prepare your organization for what’s over the next horizon by downloading your free copy of 6 Ways to Future-Proof Today with HR and Payroll Solutions.

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