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4 Min Read

Company Culture Needs To Evolve With Your Hybrid Work Model

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Mary Beth Ferrante

After more than a year of proving productivity is possible in a remote environment, it is not surprising that the hybrid model of working is becoming the favorite option among employees as companies encourage them to return to the office. In survey after survey, an overwhelming majority of employees state they want to retain flexibility in where and when they get their work done. 

While some leaders may think employees that want to remain remote all or even some of the time are less engaged, there is a lot more at stake than simply whether or not employees want to return to the office. 

Culture in the Hybrid Workplace

For many employees, maintaining the flexibility to work remotely is not just a perk but a necessity. They may have their own health concerns, be immunocompromised, or may have caregiving responsibilities for elders or for young children who are unable to be vaccinated. Many schools, summer camps, and daycares are still operating with limited numbers and/or reduced schedules, and there is no shortage of continued disruption.  

If companies want to retain employees, they must establish a hybrid model that goes beyond just adjusting policies around where employees physically work but one that also takes the overall company culture into consideration.

How will your company culture adapt and evolve? Has your organization recommitted or shifted its mission, vision, and values? Most importantly, are your managers on board, and do they have the skills and resources to practice what you preach as an organization?

How Managers Shape Hybrid Work Culture

People leaders are the day-to-day champions of culture. Yes, executive leadership sets the tone, but if managers are not provided with the tools to execute the culture, it will simply be considered lip service or corporate speak. If culture and engagement matters to your organizations, then supporting managers matters

Skilled, empathetic managers drive higher engagement, performance, and even better understanding of a company’s strategy. But one of the key aspects that is often overlooked is the need for managers to have the space and time to have more frequent and meaningful conversations with their team members.  

When team members are distributed, people leaders not only need to ensure they are managing employees’ productivity, but also carving out time to provide regular feedback, recognition, and appreciation. Without normal hallway conversations and in-person connections, employees can easily feel unappreciated and isolated.  

Ways to Set Managers Up For Success

While many of us wish we could create more time in the day, a 25+ hour day simply isn’t coming anytime soon. Therefore, it is critical to evaluate how your managers are spending their time and help them prioritize these meaningful connections.  

Empower managers to start by evaluating recurring meetings on a quarterly basis. The goal is to streamline meetings by ensuring they are still meeting the needs of the team or project, occurring at the right frequency, and including the right people.

Next, encourage managers to review the cadence and agenda of 1:1 meetings.  Many managers use this time to simply catch up on deliverables and often expect their employees to drive the agenda. While this works in some instances, it often misses the opportunity for more frequent feedback, appreciation, and recognition. Set expectations that managers drive those conversations and add them to the agenda at least monthly.

Finally, ensure the next level up is modeling the same behavior. If a mid-level manager’s own leadership is only focused on performance and productivity, that manager will feel the same pressure to manage their team similarly.  Managers are more likely to create an environment where their teams feel connection, belonging, and support if they are feeling those things themselves.

Support for managers has always been critical to driving culture, but as we adopt new models and ways of working, companies must invest in the resources, tools, training, and support to empower managers to be culture champions in this next new phase of work.