How to Maintain a Collaborative Culture in a Hybrid World

Love is in the air. February is the month of love and our work environments stand no chance in trying to escape Cupid’s arrows 😉 Yet, at work, love means different things than in our every-day life. A collaborative culture, efficient communication, psychological safety, teamwork—all these make for a better life at the workplace.

Love Is in the Air. How to Maintain a Collaborative Culture in a Hybrid World

Tips for a collaborative culture in the hybrid workplaces

More workplaces continue to switch to the hybrid work environment and some companies have been following this model for more than a year. Most employees have been flexible with new policies. However, some feel there’s a lack of collaboration and growth opportunities available.

According to an October 2021 survey, 57 percent of employees feel disconnected from their organization and coworkers. People need opportunities to spontaneously collaborate and meet. And this can be a challenge when teams are split between remote work and office.

Still, it’s possible to create a collaborative environment in a hybrid workplace. Use these ideas to create more opportunities for employees to work together and connect.

Make sure you have the hybrid tools for the job

Evaluate how your team members work together to see if there are any weaknesses or pitfalls in their collaboration. For example, using too many communication channels can create more confusion than help. An employee who needs to find a document might have to sort through emails, chats, and shared storage to figure out where it is.

According to the this Report, 41 percent of employees feel overwhelmed by technology. There are way too many tools and technologies in use at their companies. What’s more, 12 percent are “extremely overwhelmed.”

As you configure your hybrid work policy, review your processes and see if you need to make changes. Eliminating certain tools that aren’t as effective as you had hoped. Also, try to use an advanced communication platform like Hubgets that can make collaboration easier—and more effective.

Set dedicated work hours

Hybrid work is a great way to accommodate different work styles. Your early birds can clock in at 7 am and work uninterrupted. Others can take their kids to school or go to the gym before getting online at 9 am. Accommodating these work differences, as convenient as it is for employees, can be hard when you want to create a collaborative culture. Even more so if you have multiple employees working in different time zones.

Here are a few steps to set dedicated work hours:

  • Choose a time zone in which all meetings and policies will be set. This can be the time zone where your headquarters is located or where the majority of your team members work. This reduces confusion when setting meetings.
  • Establish the hours during which all employees need to be present, physically or digitally. For example, your dedicated work time might be between 9am and 3pm, with an hour for lunch.
  • In addition, determine whether there are dedicated in-office days. Then, all employees have to be available in person during those dedicated work hours. For example, you may choose Monday to Wednesdays as the days when everyone must be in-house.

These policies make it easier for employees to plan collaborative time, whether virtual or in-person.

Create opportunities for casual socializing

Collaboration doesn’t just happen when employers assign it. Connecting socially is often a catalyst for sharing problems and brainstorming solutions together casually. The challenge is creating these opportunities when you have a hybrid staff.

To make this possible, survey your team and identify the top opportunities for collaboration, networking, and community building. A few ideas include:

  • Dedicate one day a week to a team lunch. This is when people meet somewhere in person, even in small groups.
  • Set aside an hour on Friday mornings for a casual brainstorming chat. Allow people to share their problems and ask for help and solutions.
  • Start each Monday with a team coffee catch up. Allow employees to share about their weekend and plans for the week.
  • Create opportunities for professional communal growth. A collaborative culture is built on book clubs, lunch and learns, and cross-training groups as well.

Through these channels, your team members can choose how much of their personal lives they share. And they’ll have many opportunities to connect with their peers.

Train your managers to avoid visibility bias

The hybrid environment is ripe for visibility bias or the idea that employees are more likely to be recognized if they spend more time in the presence of management. Even seeing an employee in the hallway can increase the chances that they are given opportunities later because they are at the top of the boss’ mind.

Even if the boss is working remotely, when an employee is based in the office, it increases the likelihood that their actions will be seen by others and reported to the boss indirectly,Mark Mortensen and Martine Haas said for the Harvard Business Review.

Unfortunately, visibility bias often leads to discrimination. Women are more likely to take care of their kids during the day, which means they are more likely to work from home full time. Less affluent employees are also affected because they may not be able to commute to work.

Make sure this visibility bias isn’t affecting your company. Just because an employee isn’t in the office, doesn’t mean they’re not able to collaborate and connect on new work.

A collaborative culture needs to be nourished

Great collaboration is the result of a cultivated and collaborative culture.

As a leader, it is your job to create space for collaboration so everyone has the chance to share their input, be a part of the discussion, and connect with their peers.

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