The traditional office included all employees reporting to the office each day and conducting work only while in the physical office. This allowed companies to easily cultivate an office culture, as their entire workforce was in one place. Today, this is no longer feasible as a growing number of businesses offer a hybrid work model. In this model, employees can alternate between working in the office and remotely, offering countless benefits. That being said, it can be challenging to build a company culture when employees are not together to interact face-to-face. Fortunately, the modern office is one that explores creative solutions, and we have a few to help you build and maintain company culture in the modern office.
Importance of Building Company Culture
The modern office is all about flexibility. Over the past year, employees have grown accustomed to the flexibility and autonomy that remote work has provided, and they aren’t willing to give it up. While many organizations hope to encourage employees to return to the office, they understand that many will not agree to return to in-person work full-time. As a result, many companies offer hybrid work as an option, which allows employees to work both in-person and remote. But, while this model is excellent in appeasing employees and promoting productivity, it can make it challenging to cultivate company culture.
A company’s culture is the nontangible ambiance that an organization cultivates. Company culture can determine how employees behave, interact with one another, and even perform their roles. This, in turn, affects employee engagement, satisfaction, productivity, and retention. Whatever your company culture may be, it affects how your employees behave at work and how they view the company. For this reason, your company must build a strong and positive culture.
It can be easy for employees in the office to experience company culture as they interact with others in the office. Employees may eat lunch together, visit one another's desks, and interact with management in a casual and positive manner, all of which are visible demonstrations of positive company culture. But for those working remotely, how do you convey the same sense of culture? Doing so is critical in maintaining employee satisfaction and ensuring equality between employees – whether WFH or in person.
Balancing Cultural Fit with Diversity
From the moment you hire a new employee, they begin to experience your company culture firsthand and become a part of it. For this reason, when hiring new employees, you should consider how they may fit in your company culture. Hiring for “cultural fit” entails hiring individuals that seem to mesh with your preexisting company culture. While this can ease the integration of new employees and help to maintain cohesive company culture, this method does not do much to build a diverse workforce and office.
Building a culturally diverse office is vital to creating a welcoming and inclusive workspace. If employees do not feel welcomed or represented in your office, it will negatively affect your company culture. So, while you should ensure that candidates will fit in your company culture, this should be done in the sense that they align with your informal/formal work environment, communication style, and work mentality. Cultural fit should not explicitly include individuals of the same appearance or background. The modern office is about celebrating differences and coming together towards a common goal. For this reason, considering how a candidate will align with your company’s values and practices, and encourage them to embrace the company culture once they join your team. By celebrating the diversity of your employees, they will come together to celebrate the culture of your company.
Don’t Neglect the Social Aspect of Culture
As important as it is for your employees to mesh in terms of professional values and work mentality, it is also essential that they have ample opportunity to connect on a social level. If your company prides itself in being a positive environment where employees can socialize, you need to provide opportunities for employees to do so – both in-person and remote. While it is much easier to promote the social aspect of your culture to employees working in the physical office, it is vital that you do not neglect remote employees.
There are countless ways to promote the social aspect of your culture within a hybrid model of working. One of the best ways is to offer social gatherings such as a virtual "happy hour." By setting aside a designated time for employees to socialize in a non-work-related setting, employees can begin to build relationships that cultivate positive company culture. Even encouraging employees to spend the first or last few minutes of a virtual conference with small talk or ice breakers can be beneficial.
This demonstrates to employees that your company is about more than just the work you produce but also the relationships built. The more employees bond with one another and connect, the more these positive interactions will reflect into the company culture. Even without the face-to-face interactions that occur in the office, employees can get to know one another socially. This allows employees to experience a positive company culture and help it continue to grow and thrive.
Let Culture Grow Naturally
While every organization strives to build a strong and positive company culture, doing so can sometimes feel a bit forced. Whatever the changes you hope to make for your company culture, it is important to let it happen naturally. External factors will continuously change the modern office and the modern employee, so it’s natural that your culture will adapt as these factors do.
Encouraging your employees to embrace company culture is only half of the battle. In addition to this, you must cultivate a culture that your employees want to be a part of. While culture cannot be forced, you can create a welcoming and inclusive environment for your culture to build around. The more that your employees feel accepted and get to know one another, the more that your culture will form and strengthen. Whether in person or remote, employees should feel included and welcomed by your organization. By promoting company culture equally between employees, it will begin to flourish naturally. As a result, your workforce will be happier and more productive, resulting in improved performance and retention.