As restrictions begin to ease across the UK, businesses are starting to look to the future. With some offices preparing to re-open more fully, and others grappling with questions including flexible working, team communication and employee wellbeing, there is a lot to consider in this changing landscape – not least the role that virtual working, which has been a necessity for many of us over the past year, has to play as we rebuild.

At RADA Business, we are also assessing how we can best meet these challenges. In this blog, tutor Simon Delaney looks at the opportunities offered by adopting a hybrid working style – in other words, a workplace culture that includes both office-based and home-working employees.

Maintaining organisational culture

Last year, as much of the world’s office-based workforce switched to home working almost overnight, stories quickly emerged of the scale and speed at which organisations had moved.

For some organisations, including RADA Business, there was a need to reinvent the delivery of services as well as the redeployment of staff, given it was no longer possible to host people together inside a room. That is when our Virtual Stage programme was born.

Necessity really is the mother of invention.

But that was the easy part.

The pandemic has propelled us into the future of work at such accelerated speed, and in many cases with such apparent success, it is easy to forget that we are still very much at the beginning of a journey.

As we begin to look forward, with cautious optimism, to the world reopening, many global organisations (with the odd exception) are announcing their intentions for greater flexible working, an end to traditional office life, and a desire to accommodate the needs of their people.

Yet, according to our latest research report, The new art of business, 32% of homeworking leaders are fearful about how they can create a sense of company culture for all, including remote employees and satellite offices.

So the question is, how do we maintain our organisational culture in this new world?

Why is culture so important?

Culture is the glue that holds us together in challenging times.

Culture creates connection, to each other, to something bigger than ourselves.

A strong culture is what produces the ‘discretionary effort’ every leader wants from their people. It is a key part of attracting and keeping talent, of how we are experienced by our clients, and how we feel about coming to work in the morning.

Culture is defined by behaviour. Behaviour is driven by emotion – how do I feel about being part of your tribe?

Whilst clear working systems and processes are vital, they mean little without engaging the hearts of our people.

Our conversations with clients around maintaining organisational culture have many of the same issues and questions in common.

We need to consider:

There is no going back
Things will never ‘go back to normal’. The world of work will never be the same.

High stakes
The choices we make now about our culture will have a direct impact on every area of business performance for years to come.

A new vision is needed for future-fit working practices

Conscious Design
We must be deliberate and intentional in how we shape the future. It must not be left to chance.

The best solutions come from creative collaboration, are inclusive in their design, and flexible in their implementation.

Whilst clear working systems and processes are vital, they mean little without engaging the hearts of our people.
RADA Business tutor Simon Delaney

Building Trust

Change brings fear and uncertainty for most people. Building trust and confidence in new ways of working is critical. For many leaders that will mean engaging differently with people, forging stronger personal connections with individuals, managing the person as much as the work.

Leaders will need to trust and develop their own ability to lead through uncertainty. We don’t have the answers yet – this is one big experiment – and for many that can be an uncomfortable position to be in.

Trust also requires clear communication, even when the answer is unclear.

Social Connection

Maintaining social connection across a geographically spread team is at the heart of the challenge of hybrid working. Spontaneous interactions fuel creativity, collaboration and innovation. These will now need to be designed and woven into the fabric of working life, in a way that doesn’t produce the mild anxiety and sinking feeling often associated when someone announces ‘it’s time to be creative’.

Supporting people’s mental and physical wellbeing will need a rethink. Our ability to look after each other, and spot when someone needs help, is greatly restricted when we can’t grab a quick coffee or go for a walk.

Our ability to look after each other, and spot when someone needs help, is greatly restricted when we can’t grab a quick coffee or go for a walk.

Physical Spaces

Sharing the same space, and breathing the same air, will always be a fundamental part of human connection.

But if offices are no longer just spaces where the work gets done, what is their purpose?

They too will need to transform, into creative, energising and inclusive spaces that people feel drawn to, rather than summoned. Places where an employee can leave at the end of a work day feeling inspired and nourished.

How we can help

At RADA Business, we are fully engaged in helping our clients create, communicate and realise their vision for the hybrid future of their organisation.

We can help you understand the real needs of your people, to engage hearts as well as minds, and deliver high performance in a changing world.

Find out more

For more information on our courses and programmes, please get in touch today.