How to Enhance Your Hybrid Workplace Culture in a Post-Covid Environment

employees having a team meeting in an open office space

As workplaces bring workers back to the office post-COVID, new trends and ways of working are emerging. People were thrust into change overnight and had to adapt during the lockdown. But now, organizations are learning the lessons of this era and considering how their cultures can be improved to fit changing times. In this post, the experts at Cloudbooking will look at how organizations can enhance their hybrid workplace culture post-COVID.

After a couple of years of work from home orders (WFH), vaccines, and isolating social restrictions, the UK government announced the “Living with COVID” plan that removes all domestic COVID-19 restrictions and adopted their own government flexible working system. With this return to “normality” on the horizon, many organizations realize this moment is a key opportunity to enhance their new hybrid-work model and build a healthy culture.

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What is workplace culture?

A workplace culture defines the behavior of individuals within the organization and the norms that exist within the company. It defines everyone’s expectations and values and informs the way things are done within the organization. Workplace culture is evident in the language used by those within the organization, and the priorities and expectations surrounding how people work, both individually and together. The workplace culture informs behaviors and actions that are either encouraged or discouraged.

Workplace culture should advance the organization’s mission and goals and inform its operational strategies. The behaviors arising from the workplace culture should promote success for individuals within the organization and the organization as a whole.

The global pandemic, and subsequent lockdowns, catapulted organizations and individuals into a new way of working. People had to become agile workers virtually overnight and adapt to new working practices. Lessons were learned, and now, in the post-COVID era, organizations across all sectors are considering adapting their workplace culture to meet the demands of workers and consumers.

Key trends shaping workplace culture

Off the back of the global pandemic, new trends have emerged shaping how companies operate in the post-COVID world.

Organizations and workers alike have discovered that conventional working practices are unnecessary. People do not need to be present in a physical office environment to get work done and collaborate effectively. Organizations have realized many benefits to agile working, not least the cost reductions associated with minimizing physical workspace.

One major trend that has resulted is the rise of flexible working. This brings benefits to workers in the form of additional freedoms and reduced time and money spent commuting to work. For organizations, it brings cost reductions as they can downsize on real estate and associated staffing and utility costs.

The global pandemic thrust people into remote working overnight, which had a massive impact on workplace culture. While remote working brings many benefits, it also presents challenges. To overcome these challenges, companies have had to rapidly implement technologies allowing people to work effectively from any location.

Therefore, the rapid adoption of new technologies is one of the prominent trends from the COVID-19 era. Companies have had to find intelligent solutions enabling workers to operate effectively from home. There has been a significant rise in the adoption of cloud-based systems, which promote collaboration amongst employees.

In the post-COVID era, when organizations begin to bring people back into the office, we see a hybrid of the old and the new. In many cases, companies are looking at maximizing their physical space for productivity while still supporting flexible working practices wherever possible.

This has led to a rise in activity-based workspaces, with dedicated spaces for various tasks replacing traditional fixed-desk environments. For example, a company may have multiple workspaces, including conference rooms, huddle spaces, individual booths, etc. People may book these according to their needs while working from home at other times. This is why Cloudbooking’s desk booking and meeting room booking software have become an essential technology for hybrid work models.

Ways to create positive workplace culture for a hybrid environment

Developing a hybrid working environment is not without its challenges. Some people have struggled with the transition to new ways of working. People find meaning and comfort in their daily routines, and hybrid working has disrupted this.

Face-to-face interactions help create trust and rapport, and organizations must find alternative ways to facilitate this experience when creating a new workplace culture. For a hybrid environment to be productive, leaders must focus on empowering their workforce for success.

Focusing on the positive aspects of increased autonomy and ownership of tasks and projects can help individuals feel they are gaining from the transition. In turn, when individuals are empowered to take greater ownership of their work, organizations benefit from increased creativity and productivity.

Technology is central to creating a thriving hybrid workplace culture. Workers must access tools enabling them to connect with others quickly and do their jobs effectively. Communication must be encouraged and facilitated by these technologies.

Organizations must create physical environments supporting different ways of working which are easily accessed by employees. Managers must provide adequate support and assistance to remote workers while encouraging autonomy and collaboration.

HR roles and their impact on workplace culture

HR plays a critical role in shaping and maintaining a workplace culture. HR is the first port of call for employees to voice their concerns and opinions and must be accessible to employees wherever they are working and provide the right tools and avenues for feedback and support.

HR plays a crucial role in providing positive leadership. This opportunity should be taken in the literature they produce and in all interactions with employees.

Those working within HR departments must present a clear and consistent message promoting the desired company culture at all opportunities. They must actively seek feedback from those working at all levels of the organization and act on this where necessary.

HR is central to maintaining a unified company culture amongst a dispersed workforce, and those working within HR roles must align their practices with the desired company culture while also being agents for change where needed. Workers must feel that HR is on their side to support them whenever they need it. This helps a remote workforce to feel valued and part of the company.

COVID-19 and the hybrid work model have elevated the importance of HR professionals and thrust them into the limelight when it comes to enhancing and maintaining culture in a hybrid workplace.

Mental health and wellbeing

The global pandemic has had a significant impact on workers in terms of their mental health and wellbeing. It has presented enormous challenges for most, such as juggling home-schooling and childcare with home working and issues raised by remote working.

As a result, companies are placing a greater emphasis on mental health and wellbeing initiatives than ever before. This topic has come to the forefront, and organizations now realize how important it is to support the welfare of their workforce.

Companies can demonstrate their workers are valued by promoting good mental health and wellbeing and supporting this with investment and targeted initiatives. This goes a long way in terms of recruitment and retention of talent.

Looking after the mental health and wellbeing of the workforce also helps to create a positive working environment conducive to productivity and enhanced output.

Workplaces can support positive mental health and wellbeing in several ways. Where mental health has exacerbated challenges for employees, organizations must provide accessible support services, whether in-house or externally. Mental health days and paid leave can help people recover as quickly as possible, where needed, and as a preventative measure to avoid declining mental health in the long-term amongst the workforce.

To avoid feelings of isolation, companies can implement strategies to promote the social aspects of work. This may include, for example, team building days, employee award ceremonies, and other virtual and actual social events.

Managers must be aware of the potential impact of remote working on their teams. They must check in regularly with individuals and listen to any concerns, providing adequate support wherever needed.

HR and managers should play a central role in promoting mental health and wellbeing, encouraging a company culture of open discussion around these issues. While they may have been taboo issues in the past, times are changing, and organizations must recognize this in their practices to facilitate a healthy hybrid-workplace culture post-COVID-19.

Culture in the hybrid workplace — our conclusion

To enhance their workplace culture post-COVID, organizations must adapt to the changing times and the new demands of the post-COVID workforce. Mental health and wellbeing must be placed at the forefront, with workers given greater autonomy and responsibility for how, when, and where they work.

Intelligent technologies like those available at Cloudbooking should play a vital role in facilitating the modern company culture and ensuring everyone can work effectively, regardless of their physical location. Employees must be supported by their managers and organizations as a whole to ensure they can do their jobs effectively.

Organizations must create new workspaces capable of facilitating new working methods while promoting efficiency, productivity, and effective collaboration. Workers must have access to the tools they need wherever they are working.

Organizations must develop a better understanding of the hybrid workplace model, listen to the needs of their workforce, and respond accordingly to maintain a positive company culture and ensure everyone is on board.

Foster a positive hybrid-work culture and enhance employee wellbeing with Cloudbooking’s workspace management technologies. Contact us now for a no-obligation product demo.

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