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Maintaining Company Culture with Remote/Hybrid Workers

John Lambo - May 18 2022
Published in: Global Workforce
Simple ways to foster and maintain organizational culture in a hybrid workforce.

Research shows that most workers want flexible work arrangements after the pandemic. By implementing different work arrangements, companies will undoubtedly face the challenge of maintaining their culture in a world where many traditional activities incorporated into office life will no longer be applicable or possible.

In a KPMG poll of more than 300 business executives, more than half (53%) said that culture is one of the most critical factors impacting their ability to successfully reemerge or restart their respective businesses following the COVID-19 health and economic crises.

Although company culture is a primary concern for many companies, it has become more diffused, elusive, and subjective. How can leaders and managers maintain their culture when the weak fabric of video interaction replaces in-person rituals and informal connections? How can leaders and employees build the bonds that forge a team and a lasting culture? How can they discern and redefine culture to match the new rhythms and meet the new challenges that emerge when employees don’t share physical space or schedule?

Setting and maintaining company culture is essential for any business. However, doing this in a remote/hybrid work environment can pose unique challenges.

There are some simple ways companies with remote/hybrid employees can develop and sustain a strong company culture. The following practices can help increase the chances of their culture remaining intact, solidifying, and growing in the new age of widespread remote/hybrid work:

Revisit the purpose of the company

One way to create and sustain a preferred culture is to be clear on the essence of the company and why it exists. The company’s purpose should reflect what leaders, managers, and employees value. Revisiting and rallying around the company’s purpose provides unity, clarity, and direction.

Once articulated, the company’s purpose should be widely visible to employees and all stakeholders of an organization. 

The company’s purpose should also be incorporated into the business’s daily operations. to act as the anchor that supports everyday decision-making.


Face Facts

Acknowledge that many old, office-centered ways of reinforcing culture won’t work anymore. Adapting to a remote/hybrid environment will require some trial and error. Still, companies that invest time and resources into new processes will thrive in the new era.

Embrace that we live in an experiment where technology and what we used to call a workplace no longer have any limitations. Instead, we can focus on human needs and wants to stay healthy, productive, creative, social, and inspired.


Retain the social element of work

Work is not just a vehicle for productivity but an opportunity to have meaningful connections with others, enhancing our overall experience of life.

Yet, our feeling of belonging at work became challenged over the past two years as we’ve shifted away from in-person interactions and found ourselves relying on video calls and screen activities to stay connected.

Research has consistently shown that when employees feel they belong to a team or organization — in the sense that it aligns with their values and enables them to express important aspects of their identity — they will not only tend to perform better but also experience higher levels of engagement and well-being. In contrast, a lack of belonging will increase the risk of alienation, burnout, and underperformance.

Given this evidence, organizations need to foster belonging in their employees, and managers and leaders must act as agents of meaning and purpose if they wish to retain their employees.


Retain and Build on New Practices

The temptation to cling to the past is always strong. However, there have been some adaptive and new practices that are proving to be beneficial.  Companies should identify what practices and behaviors adopted during the crisis should continue after the COVID-19 pandemic. In the previously mentioned KPMG poll, respondents said they hoped remote working (37%), use of enhanced collaboration tools (27%), and more transparent communications (24%) would remain in their organizations. Conversely, identify those things that were being done before that are now not culturally important or necessary for success in the future.

As businesses continue to navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic, one thing is clear – companies with a solid organizational culture will be best positioned to rally employees and motivate them to meet the challenges of this crisis and beyond.