3 Secrets to a Healthy Hybrid Work Culture
Our favorite classic comedies consist of the same character: a corporate ladder-climbing workaholic who never takes a vacation and has no time for valuable relationships. The line between their personal and professional life is nonexistent.
Unfortunately, this is a reality for many people. The lack of good leadership leaves several people feeling overworked, underpaid, and unappreciated by their jobs.
And then, the COVID-19 pandemic entered our lives. We swapped conference meetings for zoom calls. Collared shirts for sweatpants. Late nights in the office for hours scrolling on TikTok. And happy hours for… ok every hour was happy hour.
This was detrimental for many industries. But many companies discovered that their employees were capable of performing more or all of their duties at home and that they were actually more efficient.
In 2021, a report by Owl Labs found that 55% of respondents say they work more hours remotely than at the physical office.
Think about it: no commute, no rush, no traffic. You can roll out of bed, make a cup of coffee, and start working. You’re probably spending less money on lunch, less on gas, and you’re probably less stressed.
On the other hand, 87% of employees say the office is important for collaborating with team members and building relationships, according to PWC.
You may work more while you’re at home, but you do miss out on cracking jokes with your office bestie, chatting it up with your boss, and brainstorming with your team.
At Whirks, we went remote during the dawn of the pandemic – but it was also our busiest year to date. Our office has remained a mix of remote and on-site employees, that have presented us with our own set of challenges and wins.
In our latest podcast, we discuss the pros and cons of remote work with our CEO, Matt Patrick, and we’ve come up with a helpful formula for a healthy balance that helps us stay connected to our teams:
- Schedule team events.
- Establish full-time core hours.
1. Overcommunicate with your team.
If you have remote workers, you have to be intentional about communication. This begins with always opting for a face-to-face zoom call instead of a detailed email or phone call. It’s important to see reactions and body language and interact like you’re physically present with that person.
You can’t argue with the enormous benefit of face-to-face interactions: more than 74% of Gen Z respondents prefer interacting with colleagues face-to-face, followed by Baby Boomers (68%), and Gen Xers (66%). (Accenture)
But as Matt mentions in the podcast, the risk of having to play telephone exists with more remote workers. Sometimes information or messages are watered down before it gets to the right person.
Schedule one-on-ones weekly and require video for every meeting.
At Whirks, we use Slack to communicate internally, with designated channels that allow our teams to let each other know when they won’t be available due to not feeling well, upcoming appointments, or PTO.
“Don’t be afraid to overshare. It’s really easy to get in your hole and do your work. Which is great, but a big part of learning is not being on your own island.” learning is so much just not your own island.
Every day at Whirks, we meet at 11:30 am and for Huddle. This quick, 10-minute meeting allows every single employee to share:
- What Winning looks like for them (their top tasks for the next 24 hours)
- A Heads Up (upcoming appointments, PTO, etc)
- A Stuck (asking for help with a certain task, because you can’t win the day without it)
Our daily huddle takes 10 minutes, but it’s the most important meeting of the day.
Whether you’re remote or in the office, our daily Huddle is a meeting that you are required to attend, and therefore we know never to schedule meetings during that time.
It helps us stay connected as a team, encourages us to prioritize our work, and holds us accountable.
2. Host Team-Building Events
According to a Harvard Business Review, it’s healthy for soldiers to form close bonds because “they believe in the purpose of the mission, rely on each other, and share the good and the bad as a team”.
There is no shortage of studies and statistics verifying that teamwork makes the dream work. It reduces employee isolation – which is vital for increasing productivity.
At Whirks, we hold several events and meetings that give our remote workers the opportunity to connect with our local team.
For example, we have an internal conference in the summer, a Christmas party, a bowling event in March, and quarterly all-hands meetings.
Our team loves Halloween…
Several business owners are required to have physical employees in the office – for us, that’s our admin team. And ideally, we want most of our employees to be local and come into the office every day.
For us, the water cooler talk, hanging out and discussing ideas, and creating friendships reflect what we value as a business. If you have a problem or issue, you can knock on a coworker’s door instead of waiting for a slack message or email.
People not being in a physical office can be a challenge for some businesses to overcome.
When you expand your job pool to remote workers, you open up the possibility to hire top talent. But as a business owner, you have to consider the expense of flying them in for team building events and paying for hotels.
You’re deadline-driven. It was the expectation. You just work to whatever time that was and everybody was there. That doesn’t need to exist anymore. So we started with that mentality way before the pandemic, which was the flexibility of working where I need to work when I need to work.
“I love the flexibility of working when and where I want to. I still want to have a person sitting in an office every day working right next to me. But that’s not reality. And that’s not shouldn’t be my expectation.”
Matt Patrick, Founder & CEO of Whirks
3. Establish core hours.
One of the obvious fears with remote workers is tracking their time and confirming that they are being productive and not abusing it.
At Whirks, we expect our remote or flex-time people to be available during certain times of the day (for us, that’s 9:30-4:30 pm CST). No matter where you are, you are expected to work and be available during those hours.
With that, you have to consider time zone issues and establish hours that work the best for all of your employees.
For us, this is why huddle is so important. Whether you’re just getting started with your day in California, or you’re ready to take lunch in Memphis, it helps us all stay on the same page and know when our team members are going to be available.
Hybrid work can be the best of both worlds.
Navigating the workspace as a business owner is difficult in our post-pandemic world. Some people are happier working from home, while others prefer to get back in the office. Maybe you’ve noticed an increase in productivity, but a shift in your company’s camaraderie.
We can’t avoid that our world and the workplace have changed. Limited time with family, rigid working conditions, and late nights in the office should be a thing of the past.
A PwC survey spoke with executives and concluded that 88% are seeing higher turnover than normal. Employees are leaving jobs that no longer meet their standard of living.
So in order to attract and retain your employees, you have to consider hiring remote employees and creating a hybrid work model.
By over-communicating with your remote team, scheduling in-person meetings and team events, and establishing core hours, you can manage your team better and continue to foster a healthy work culture.Having a hard time hiring – and a harder time finding the right employees? Read our article on why you should always be hiring so your business can get one step better every day.