Developing a strong work culture within a hybrid environment

The future of work is no longer a question of remote vs in-person; it’s about embracing the hybrid model and finding ways for teams to thrive in such an environment.

After managing our team for over a year in a hybrid work environment, Porsche Digital Croatia was voted as a great place to work. We came in second in the overall rank of small-sized companies and received an award for one of the Best Employers of 2021 in the country. Seen that the scores are given by the company’s own employees in an anonymous poll, this award stands out as one of the most important awards in Croatia.

It also tells a story of how successful we were in turning hybrid setting into a great place to work. It hasn’t always been a smooth ride. What hybrid work offers in practicality, it lacks in spontaneous moments that foster relations and create a sense of belonging. But with the right approach, we were able to navigate the hybrid environment and create a work culture that our people find amazing. So, how did we do it?

Flexibility and trust keep the teams motivated

Flexibility is the backbone of any thriving hybrid-working team. Once we gave our people the freedom to choose how much time they want to spend in the office, they could easily combine both work and private goals. And that worked like a charm for their motivation. But for flexibility to work, people need autonomy as well. So we gave them trust to plan their workload and shifted our focus from the number of hours in the office to the result-based culture.

Additional benefits that go beyond salary were equally important in motivating teams. We’ve come to see that perks like flexible hours, paid time off, longer vacation days or sponsored health checks didn’t just make people feel valued, but also more focused on their tasks and career growth. For that reason, we keep our list of benefits long and regularly updated.

Finding new ways for people to connect

Connecting with others at work used to be the easy part of the workday. Simply being around your co-workers and having small talks made forging relations easier. But with the teams being distributed, office banters turned into virtual chats where the most commonly used phrase was “You are on mute!” and people had a hard time connecting outside of their roles.

With fewer “water cooler” moments to bond over, we had to create new opportunities to bring remote and on-site workers closer. And we’ve decided not to limit them only to online activities. So, instead of just hosting weekly virtual coffees and encouraging discussions over shared interests on dedicated Slack channels, we’ve also organized a fair share of in-person activities, such as our first team building and Friday after-work cocktail parties. We’ve even kept the onboarding process in the office when appropriate to create welcoming and inclusive moments that will prepare new people for the future in our team.

After-work hangouts as an opportunity to meet colleagues in person

Frequent and open communication is the oil that keeps the engine running smoothly

We’ve learned that giving employees a voice is important — and so is hearing what they have to say. But instead of just saying to people that they can be honest and open with us, we’ve backed it up with processes that promote honest dialogue. For example, every team member has weekly one-on-one meetings with the team leaders where people are encouraged to speak up and share their thoughts. These talks go beyond everyday work and can cover real-life problems and struggles.

On top of that, our employees have biannual 360 reviews that are used to evaluate performance and their job satisfaction. This type of frequent communication saved the day in more ways than one and helped us address issues before they became a problem. Management had an important role in promoting our culture. For others to accept it, people in the leading positions had to model the behaviors that we wanted to see and demonstrate trust and honesty. And that’s exactly what they did, setting the right example from day one.

Love it or hate it, hybrid work is here to stay

Understanding the hybrid environment and embracing it may sound like a tall order. But make no mistakes, hybrid work is here to stay. The sooner you get rid of the notion that culture only sits within the four walls of the office, the faster you can create the one that supports people wherever they are. And take it from us, it will make it worth your while.

About this publication: Where innovation meets tradition. There’s more to Porsche than sports cars — we’re tackling new challenges, develop digital products, and think digital with a focus on the customer. On our Medium blog, we tell these stories. It’s about our #nextvisions, smart technologies, and the people that drive our digital journey. If you want to know more, follow us on Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

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