Building a Strong Team Culture: Virtual, In-Person, or Hybrid

6 min read
Aug 24, 2021 9:00:00 AM

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Building a Strong Team Culture: Virtual, In-Person, or Hybrid

Remote work may have changed a lot about what work looks like, but it shouldn’t change the mission behind your organization or your work. According to Harvard Business Review, 70% of organizations of all sizes plan to move to some form of hybrid working. However,

43% of employees fear reduced collaboration for individuals and teams when considering fully remote work.


What this data tells us is that while there is a clear push for more remote and hybrid options, this leads many employees to fear a lack of connection to their teams and organization as a whole. Team members working from home may feel disconnected from their peers and leaders and disengaged from their work. Productivity and collaboration have become new obstacles for leaders to navigate.

As remote and hybrid work becomes increasingly desired, it's up to leadership to ensure the strong workplace cultures you’ve built over the years translate into new work styles and environments.

When team’s lose sight of the “why” behind their work, workdays become checking off tasks and doing the bare minimum rather than feeling passionate about creating meaningful work that serves your customers. If your team is bought into your organizational culture - and they strive to live out the core values of your company every day rather than just getting their work done - they’re in a much better position to succeed and grow. The why fuels the what. 

And culture is the foundation that holds up the rest of the house. 

As the corporate world returns slowly to in-person work or a hybrid model, leaders need to understand the impact the last year and a half has had on their teams and why culture is more important than ever before. 

So, What’s The Solution?

How do you build culture remotely? How do you transition back to in-person or hybrid with new safety measures without losing the culture element? 

Leadr board member and HR expert Michael Erisman has an answer. 

“Culture is some amorphous thing in between what you aspire to be and what you actually are… it often comes down to what you tolerate, what you recognize, and what you reward,” Michael says. 

“Culture is the glue that holds your organization together. Leaders at companies may have a great vision for what they want it to be, but how that plays out on a day-to-day basis on your team might look different. Establishing and nurturing a great team culture is a balancing act, regardless of if a company is in-person or working remote,” says Michael. 

What Does Hybrid Connectedness Look Like?

In a remote world, the manager takes on even more of a coach role, as they praise, recognize, and course-correct with their team. It’s also key to continue anything that you did in-person even if it looks slightly different remote! 

One way our team at Leadr does this is through two weekly events that can be joined in-person or on Zoom. On Monday’s, we have our weekly all-staff meeting where each department shares updates to ensure every team is aligned and focused on their goals. But more importantly in this meeting, one team member highlights how they witnessed one of our core values lived out at work that week. This helps us keep our why at the front of mind and honor those living up to our values.

For more of a social event, we host what’s called The Midday Show every Wednesday. At this 15-minute hybrid event, we hold a challenge, interview, or group activity simply to let the staff blow off steam, see each others faces, and connect for a few minutes in the middle of the week. 

Though small, these events achieve two purposes, refocusing the entire team on our mission and goals, and creating opportunities to celebrate our team culture.  

Michael adds, “The only real difference in remote culture is that it takes more discipline and more time.” 

Taking a few moments in your day for virtual team events or Zoom one on one meetings with meaningful feedback for employees may feel awkward at first, but they help bring a sense of normalcy and connectedness. On top of that, these gestures serve as a constant reminder of the “why” behind your team’s work, giving employees exactly what they were afraid of losing by going remote.

Michael and Leadr founder Chris Heaslip have collaborated on a podcast to help leaders understand exactly how to develop a culture and help it grow, and what vital role HR plays in that process. Check out the link to the podcast and transcript here.  

What Other Organizations Are Doing

  • Offering virtual lunches, coffee breaks, or happy hours once a week. Depending on the size of your organization, these can be company-wide or maybe organized by each team lead. Many organizations extend this further by offering virtual workout classes, trivia events, and

  • Providing communication tools for your team. For many teams this means tools like Slack and Zoom, but some industries have other creative solutions. Our product & Engineering team uses Discord, a tool typically used for gamers, but serves as a a free voice, video, and text chat app. Some prefer Discord for the ability to serve as a type of virtual office space, where co-workers can work “in the same room” as they would in an office.

  • Sending co-workers and direct reports food. Many teams are using food delivery services like UberEats and Favor to send their coworkers snacks or meals on big days or for a meeting that used to happen in person. This is especially popular for meetings that happen during lunch. While nothing can replace sharing a meal together in person, having food delivered from the same restaurant and eating through a meeting provides a glimpse of normalcy and connectedness for remote workers.

    Tip: Have staff members share food preferences, allergies, and favorites in your internal database so managers can easily access this information for a surprise effect. At Leadr, we do this through our own Leadr people development platform.

  • Company Challenges/Games - Some teams have begun emailing out a weekly or monthly challenge as a way to encourage engagement and personal health. Challenges could include activities like exercise, water intake, journaling, reading books, or community service. At the end of the challenge, one winner is selected for a small prize. This could be a gift card, a few hours of PTO or a benefit unique to your organization.

Culture Begins With The 1:1 Meeting

While all of these efforts to increase connection are absolutely worthwhile, a Forbes study states that one of the key steps to motivating unengaged employees is to engage in open, frequent feedback conversations. When leadership puts people over priorities, team members have the opportunity to provide feedback, communicate confusion, and realign priorities. 

One on one meetings will transform your culture one person at a time, but we know getting started can be tough. Not sure how to begin? We break down the basics in our free 1:1 meeting guide.

Step One To Building A Strong Team Culture

We built Leadr to equip you to have more effective 1:1s. We know firsthand how valuable those conversations with your team are. Each week in Leadr, you get a glimpse into the work lives of your employees in a space where they can process with you, receive feedback, and leave feeling engaged and connected with their boss, their team, and their work. These regular meetings are crucial to retention and engagement in your team, and we want to help you make those minutes count.  

Our client, Chris Gillott at First Assembly, realized the impact 1:1 conversations had on his team. First Assembly decided to partner with Leadr to elevate their process for better growth and development and more effective meetings!  We’re so grateful they’ve trusted Leadr with this vital step. If you’d like to know more about how to have effective 1:1 conversations, download our ebook, The One-To-One Meeting: A How-To Guide

When you’re ready to get started, we’d love to hear from you - reach out to us for more info or a demo here. 

Already have a great one on one cadence with your team? Tell us how these meetings impact your work on a daily basis in the comments.1:1 Meeting eBook

Request a Demo of Leadr


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