As we find ourselves well into 2022, leaders and teams are settling into a hybrid way of working. Many leaders expressed concerns about the ‘loss of culture’ in a WFH world and are now experimenting which what it takes to rebuild culture in a hybrid world.
Culture is best described as ‘how we do things around here’ and ‘the smell of the place’. Over the last two years it seems that culture has been irreversibly uncoupled from ‘place’. Geographically dispersed teams have long known this, as LinkedIn’s Luke McKend recently commented when interviewed by our sister company, Teamery.
For teams who had been co-located, entering this new hybrid era provides an opportunity. There is much possibility in re-thinking, renewing and resetting what wasn’t working in the pre-covid world – presenteeism, command-and-control leadership, exclusionary and toxic workplaces – and to transition to teams which are culture and purpose led; whose output and delivery is built on doing work that matters, which customers value; and enables the best possible collective contribution of all involved. It has nothing to do with where this work is done; and everything with why and how it is done.
Leaders and teams that are using these evolving hybrid times as a springboard to rethink the ‘how we do things around here’ and what really holds them together, are building their ‘their own smell’ systematically and systemically. They are aligning on broad cultural principles from the wider enterprise, and they are figuring out what works best for their own team. They are re-forming and re-norming, focusing on how they
- Connect with one another and key stakeholders across teams to build relationships
- Communicate across a variety of channels
- Contract on expectations, create alignment and clarity on behavioural norms
- Collaborate and build cohesion consistently in both virtual and in-person interactions
- Course correct and evolve their ways of working as they gain more experience of what is working and what is a work in progress.
Many leaders we’re partnering with are learning, experimenting and figuring out what works alongside their team. In a time of ‘never normal’, where uncertainty is a certainty, this seems like the wisest way ahead.