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A new workplace blueprint is being created that merges working from the office and remote work. As the workforce leans towards this hybrid model, it is important for businesses to build an inclusive culture for remote workers into their plan. Virtual work has turned into lots of transactional interactions and is lacking the relational connections that can take place in an office space. Without being in the same room as co-workers it can be difficult to collaborate and build meaningful relationships that are helpful for team morale. More than 50% of executives say that company culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates. If you add lightness, fun and connection the work still gets done, but it doesn’t feel cumbersome and will enhance work outcomes.
Here are some tips to strengthen team dynamics in a hybrid home/office environment:
Create a pitch day. Set aside time once a month, or quarter, for team members to pitch suggestions for company enhancements such as: new angles for a project, product add ons, improving ways to work as a team, etc. You may want to have specific focuses on what can be pitched or switch themes each pitch day, or you can keep the conversation open to anything individuals would like to pitch. The organizer of this day should be clear about what can be pitched, how to incorporate good ideas and if you want to offer a prize for best pitch. For example, on the last Friday of each month we will have team members pitch ways to improve our customer outreach strategy. All ideas are welcomed from the most outrageous to the smallest of changes. We will all anonymously vote on what idea is the best and the winner of the idea will receive a lazy Monday morning, where they don’t have to come to work until noon.
Organize a team lunch or coffee break. Even in hybrid working models teams can still meet, with the choice of either in person or virtually. As an optional nice gesture you can offer food or coffee at the office and have it delivered to those who are working remotely. Depending on how big your team is, you may want to create smaller groups or even one on one breaks. Having the space for people to connect on a personal level can develop bonding amongst team members - which in turn will increase meaningful connections, synergy, trust, inclusivity, and creativity between team members.
Offer virtual exercise classes or workout challenges.Not only is this a great way for team members to do an activity together, but it also can improve an individual's mood, sharpen their focus, and increase productivity. The pandemic has brought exercise instructors online, so any member of the team regardless of their location can be included. You can also create workout challenges where group members share in a group chat pictures from their workouts. A favorite workout challenge is doing a walk or hike and group members can share pictures of things they found beautiful along their path.
Raise money for a cause together. People feel good about coming to work for a company that is doing good things in the world. Fundraising also gives team members the opportunity to connect and engage each other around a shared goal. It is advised to have the whole team determine the best ways to meet your fundraising goals. This will increase the connection to the team and cause, generate more ideas, and increase the chances of success. See if there are ways in which you can tie together raising money with out-of-the-box thinking that brings the team together, even in a hybrid workforce. For example, creating a funny video people can post to raise money. This not only builds social connection, but it also connects your company to socially good causes within your community. Doing good for others can increase company morale.
Give the team ownership. The best way to develop activities that employees want to participate in is to engage them in designing the activities. You may want to have a handful of activities already in mind to offer as possibilities (such as the ideas above) and then you can open it up for suggestions.
Strategies are only ideas that will go nowhere without the right people to make them happen. Investing in people is not only a nice thing to do, it is also an investment in the company. Emotional commitment can’t be bought, it has to be thoughtfully developed. That is why developing company and team culture is so important. As we begin to transition into a new chapter of a hybrid workforce it is essential to create a plan for inclusion of all members, regardless if they are at remote or in the office.
For the original article, visit: Forbes.