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3 KEY Cultural Imperatives for a Hybrid Work Model

Updated: Dec 1, 2021

I was speaking with an ex-colleague of mine who is currently based in the US. He has been operating in the hybrid model since a long time and was telling me that it took him quite a while to be comfortable in that model.

We spoke about burn-out, work-from-home fatigue, blurring the lines between work and home and the fact that the agile model has really helped in ensuring productivity.

Of particular interest was looking at the mindset shifts required from both the employee as well as their supervisor to ensure effective employee engagement & satisfaction.

3 key imperatives came out of the discussion:

1. Managing Emotional Capital

FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) is something that would impact employees. Cognitive biases do have a tendency to creep in leading to individuals feeling dis-engaged from the organization, leading to increased challenges & complexity in managing employees.

What we agreed on:

Working on creating a sense of shared Purpose, both “Reason for Being” (what matters to them & excites them to work with this company) and “Reason for Doing” (meaningful contribution of individual’s work) is key to ensuring focus on the ball and not on the person.

What we diverged on:

Individuals need to be and act more mature. Experience shows that Emotional Intelligence doesn’t always come by default and needs to be inculcated through systematic guidance.

2. Maintaining Social Capital

The feeling of belonging and being part of a community is an essential to working in an organization. Our interactions, connect with peers and managers and outreach to help and seek help provides employees with not only psychological safety but also enhances trust and collaboration.

What we agreed on:

Devising new rituals & touch-points to engage employees (going beyond surveys, newsletters, organizing game times) to share & exchange information (synchronous & asynchronous), being more Authentic and Vulnerable in interactions, setting up different meetings for different purposes (not have a meeting and mix all types of interactions in one slot), creating smaller, self-managed teams/networks would go a long way in ensuring employee engagement.

What we diverged on:

Providing access to collaboration tools & making information available on collaboration platforms would help employees keep up-to-date on “what’s happening” within the organization. It’s up to each employee to reach out and connect.

From experience, I strongly felt that information accessibility through technology is essential but not sufficient, people-centricity through human interactions & rituals is vital.

3. Enhancing Leadership Capital

The official gateway between the employees and the organization is their boss.

In a hybrid work environment, the role of the boss gets amplified even more.

What we agreed on:

Managers would need to enhance their leadership skills to be more Empathetic, ensure Fairness through visibility and transparency, being more inclusive and work on building the Autonomy quotient of their team.

What we diverged on:

Getting managers to take online self-paced trainings to enhance their leadership quotient.

Online training only leads to the Forgetting Curve (People forget 75% of what they learnt within 6 days). Coaching and guiding the managers & supervisors to become leaders is THE most effective way to enhance leadership skills.

The conclusion: Focusing on policies & technology enablers is essential but sustained employee engagement requires on-going focus on driving cultural shifts in behaviors & mindsets across Emotional Capital, Social Capital and Leadership Capital

Building purposeful people-centric organizations through active and involved actions that drive mindset shifts is absolutely essential to ensuring a thriving work culture in a hybrid work environment.


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