What does culture look like in a hybrid world?

In the past, people have thought of company or office culture as being something to do with pool tables, breakout rooms and fun social events. But with the past 18 months having transformed the working world into less of a 9-5 one and more of an office-home hybrid one, what does that mean for culture moving forwards?

Redefining culture

Previously, when you thought of companies with good culture, ones with fun working environments (such as Google) probably sprung to mind. And while things like games and comfy spaces have never gone amiss, they’re not the real root of what it means to have a great culture.

Going beyond that, culture has always been about a common set of behaviours, attitudes and values that filter from the top down, to every single member of staff. It covers everything from flexibility of work, to career development paths, to work-life balance.

While culture has always been about these things, the full time office working that people have mostly always known, has clouded their understanding of it. With COVID-19 acting as a catalyst to move us towards either a fully remote or a hybrid way of working, the original meaning of culture is beginning to shine through again.

Culture in a hybrid world

But even with this renewed view on culture, how do we go about creating it, and more importantly, maintaining it? Well, it starts with understanding your company values. What does your business care about, how is it going to operate in line with this and what can it offer prospective candidates? It’s also important to be objective and to understand the reality of your culture (how it is seen by your employees, your prospective candidates and your customers rather than just yourselves).

With a Glassdoor survey finding that more than half of employees prioritise workplace culture over salary and the current hiring pool being bigger than ever before, it’s even more vital to nail your culture.

Company culture in a hybrid world goes beyond the surface level perks. It’s about ensuring that your team can get on board with it, without being physically present in the room. This means effective communication at all levels (especially where managers are concerned), and redefining what it means to build workplace relationships (beyond the “water cooler chats”).

Adapting a hybrid model

It’s important that if you’re going to adapt a hybrid working model, that you completely embrace it. This means that you need to be willing to be a lot more flexible and to meaningfully disassociate hard work with presence. 

Those with a negative attitude towards working from home may find themselves subconsciously prioritising those in the office when it comes to perks and promotions. This is where cultural fit comes back in. If you find a great candidate who wants to work remotely, whereas you’d prefer staff to work from the office then it’s not going to work out in the long-run.

And hiring for cultural fit has a number of perks. Not only can it save companies money but it also results in more engaged employees who actively promote the company to their networks. However, the key part of this is “fit”. There’s no one perfect example of company culture or a standard that everyone needs to meet. 

Culture will vary hugely based on the type of work the company does, where it’s based, who its customers are and who it's run by. What’s important is to make sure that the team you build reflects the culture you have at every level of the company. If you do this successfully then it won’t matter whether you’re in the office, working completely remotely or moving forwards in a hybrid world.


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