Skip to content
Skip to main content

About this free course

Download this course

Share this free course

Hybrid working: skills for leadership
Hybrid working: skills for leadership

Start this free course now. Just create an account and sign in. Enrol and complete the course for a free statement of participation or digital badge if available.

1.6 Hybrid culture: what does great look like?

A hybrid culture develops in an environment that blends virtual and in-person work arrangements. Although changes in the world of work have dominated our thoughts for the last couple of years (and with good reason, since work is a huge part of our lives), workplaces are not the only environments considering what it means to have a hybrid culture (Cooks-Campbell, 2022).

What seems to be clear in the HEI sector is that the rapid pivot to online as a knee-jerk reaction to the pandemic has caused a great deal of cultural tension for both staff and students.

According to an article by Stanier et al. (2022), a hybrid culture will only work if you treat everyone as working remotely. This ensures that everyone gets the same information, tools and opportunities to succeed, and it doesn’t differ according to where they sit and whether they are working at a desk in an office, hot-desking in a collab space, or at home. They feel that a successful hybrid culture needs consistent action from leadership in the five areas listed below and, as a leader, you will need to ask yourself some of the questions included in each area.

  • Embracing asynchronous communication – Do your employees have equal opportunities to participate in communication? If they don’t, you need to move your synchronous exchanges to asynchronous, which can be achieved through moving to written or recorded communications. Do you really need to have that daily stand-up? Are there people unable to attend? If so, you could create a chat channel with short updates or provide a recorded video to replace a company-wide live meeting. If something really does need to be live communication, ensure that you provide a recording and a transcript for those that were unable to attend.
  • Making communication boundaries clear – Do your employees know when and how to get in touch with each other? Are your current employees annoyed at being interrupted when they are working? If so, start to create some rules of engagement per platform. Do you expect instant messages to be answered instantly? What about emails? Are meetings optional or compulsory? By making this really clear and part of your culture, it can reduce anxiety and stop the fear of missing out among your employees. Do your employees make their work hours clear with each other?
  • Championing documentation and artefacts – Can your employees find content and information easily? Do you use collaboration tools to enable employees to collaborate remotely in real time and make comments on documentation? If you don’t, start to identify tools and technology that facilitate this, as this can really cut down on wasted time in duplication, and also increase employee morale and feelings of ownership, according to Stanier et al. (2022).
  • Broadcasting communication – One thing employees really missed during lockdown was the ability to just talk and have what some call ‘water cooler’ conversations. One-to-one conversations might have been possible in a small office environment but it is really difficult to scale them up (Stanier et al., 2022) and not possible in a hybrid culture. Instead, Stanier et al. suggest that leaders need to develop a culture of written or recorded messaging to convey the heartbeat of the company. This can be achieved through regular newsletters or recorded weekly messages. On a smaller scale, teams could be encouraged to self-manage this sort of communication, sharing successes and achievements and working with other teams to provide updates and share what they are working on: ‘A company of sharing encourages further sharing’.
  • Providing the tools to succeed – Do you have digital tools that enable your employees to work effectively? Do you have a plethora of tools available, but none that are widely used? Do your employees have a safe and comfortable working environment at home and in the office? During the pandemic, many employees just had to adapt to what they had, even if that meant working from their sofa, their bed or even in a chaotic family kitchen. It is the company’s responsibility to ensure that employees are successful wherever they are.

In the following video contributors share insights for developing shared values and inclusive organisational cultures.

Download this video clip.Video player: hyb_2_2022_sept103_building_a_good_culture_compressed.mp4
Copy this transcript to the clipboard
Print this transcript
Show transcript | Hide transcript
Interactive feature not available in single page view (see it in standard view).