By Maria Geokezas, VP of Client Services at Heinz Marketing
Today’s typical hybrid work culture conversation:
Manager: “What’s your favorite part about working from home?”
Employee: “The flexibility. And honestly how productive I am working from home.”
As a manager, I’ve heard this phrase, almost verbatim, repeatedly over the last year and a half. While I would never wish the horrors of this last year upon anyone, it’s important to reflect on the lessons we’ve learned and changes we’ve had to make to accommodate our new normal.
Specifically: hybrid work culture.
Reflecting on WFH…
In the past, many businesses were averse to working from home because they were averse to change. They fell into the trap of “this is how we’ve always done it.” In other words, why change something that isn’t necessarily broken? Though because they were forced into this change, many got to experience a whole new perspective and attitude when it comes to WFH.
I don’t know about you, but who genuinely misses their morning and evening commute during rush hour traffic? Or sitting in in-person meetings that could have easily been an email? Having to stop by the grocery store for dinner after a long day? Rushing home to feed the dog and let her out?
Working from home brought more flexibility for our employees’ time and it forced us to be more creative in how we run our business and build a company culture everyone can get behind. Specifically, we learned:
- Socializing: Relationships can still thrive while at home as long as we schedule the time company-wide
- Productivity: With employees having to manage their own time and hold themselves accountable, productivity actually increased
- Leadership: Those employees ready for a greater responsibility in the office were able to showcase their abilities as their leadership was needed in a completely new environment
- Creativity: WFH forces us to be more creative and really focus on the “how” and “why” of projects vs. just the “what”
One Heinz employee in a May 2021 survey said:
“The more I work from home, the more I realize the convenience of not having to commute and going out to get lunch, and I feel overall more productive with less distractions.”
While there are so many benefits of WFH, I can also say that many of us do miss each other’s company in the office…
Why a hybrid work model works
According to a survey by Steelcase in January of 2021, 91% of employees stated they’d like to be back in the office in some capacity.
That’s where a hybrid work culture comes in.
A hybrid work culture is one that doesn’t require employees to venture to the office every single day. Instead, maybe one comes in 2x/week or 3x/week or maybe it’s simply whenever they need to for pre-determined and pre-scheduled meetings.
In fact, 85% of employees say they are more likely to stay with a company that offers a work-from-anywhere environment.
What I really like about the hybrid work culture is that it forces us to have a sense for the culture you want to create. It also forces you to better understand the culture your employees want and forces you to work to design your hybrid office situation to enable the desired culture.
Though this process isn’t always easy, especially for many leaders who are so used to working “in” the business rather than “on” the business. Through this transition from in-person to WFH full-time to a hybrid work culture, it’s forced the Heinz Marketing team to think creatively about how to:
- Solve internal problems
- Provide open dialogues for communication
- Offer easy access to provide feedback
- Collaborate and brainstorm remotely
- Resolve any feelings of disconnectedness
- Increase productivity
- Boost employee morale
- Prevent miscommunication
- Increase employee engagement
- Plan remote happy hours
In the same survey mentioned previously, another Heinz employee stated:
“I enjoy social interaction and being able to talk with people face to face especially when communicating questions, issues, frustrations and other things that can be easily misinterpreted. Collaboration is another aspect that’s different in person.”
The best way to build your hybrid work culture is to start by asking your employees what they need to be successful.
What we uncovered…
We regularly survey our employees to get a feel for their current attitude towards their work environment, work/life balance and overall happiness. This year, it became even more important to get a feel for where our employees stand before making any concrete decisions.
According to a recent survey by Limeade, 56% of employees said their employers haven’t asked them about plans for a possible return to office.
If you haven’t had a chance to survey your employees yet, here’s an idea for what ours had to say about WFH and/or returning to the office.
- Back to the office 2022: Employees are feeling more confident about working in a shared/central office environment in 2022 rather than the fall of 2021
- Productivity levels: The team feels more productive working from home and saving time on their commute
- Hybrid schedule: On average, employees want to work 2-3 days in the office together
- Internal team only: They’ll work together, but they are not comfortable working in close quarters with non-Heinz Marketing employees yet
- Collaboration is key: Employees are looking forward to working in person for working sessions so they can really focus on specific deliverables without the distractions from home
- Health is priority: Team members still want all health precautions taken including: not sharing desks, hand sanitizer at every station, deep cleanings, and schedules implemented for when each team member is expected to be in the office to mitigate the spread of germs and/or potential disease
Rather than getting caught up in what you’ve done in the past, this is your opportunity to redefine your company culture and set the stage for years to come.
What does your hybrid work model look like?