Hybrid Working Landscapes Require a Cultural Reset

The transition to different hybrid working models, accelerated by recent global events, has brought the importance of corporate culture to the forefront. Organisations are challenged to redefine their strategies to cultivate a culture that not only adapts to these new models, but also aligns with sustainable business practises. In the article, I will share the model that helped our company NIL, part of Conscia develop and support the desired culture in the past and one we are still following in the context of hybrid work.

The Cultural Imperative in the Context of Change

Culture is a business priority as it can help create change and build an organisation that thrives. If left unmanaged and assigned only to HR, it can become a significant liability for the company. Research has shown the impact culture has on results and how important context is when assessing the strategic effectiveness of culture. In terms of context, the academic literature describes the region and the industry as external factors and focuses on internal factors, which include the alignment of culture and strategy.  Culture is viewed upon from strategic goals and plans for the company and leadership on the character and behaviour of top executives. This can have a profound impact on the culture, as well as the organisational design reflected in a particular corporate structure.

As outlined in McKinsey’s “Culture in the Hybrid Workplace” and Gartner’s Global Knowledge Worker Forecast, as well as several other studies, the hybrid model is becoming a mainstay. This shift requires a reassessment of cultural norms and business strategies. The alignment is critical for fostering resilience, adaptability, and innovation in a rapidly evolving business landscape. The hybrid work landscape requires a Culture Reset.

How Can Reassessment Be Addressed in the Context of Hybrid Work? 

Katarina Primožič Ramoveš, MSc, People and Culture Director, NIL,part of Conscia

At NIL, part of Conscia, we have identified several useful steps to cultivate a desired culture that has worked for us in the past and that is once again our focus in the context of hybrid work:

1. Reassessment and Realignment of Organisational Values and Processes: Reassessing and realigning core values to adapt to the dynamics of hybrid work is the first step in understanding how core values will be implemented in the new work environment and which adjustments are required. In this context, it is crucial to adapt organisational processes to be more inclusive, flexible, and support hybrid work dynamics. The reward system, the KUDOS system, and the organisational structure in the hybrid context must support flexibility and autonomy while maintaining accountability. This includes developing and tracking performance metrics that align with cultural expectations to ensure employees and managers are evaluated not only on tasks completed, but also on their adherence to cultural values.

2.Strengthening Leadership: Leadership plays a crucial role in shaping organisational culture and modelling and strengthening the desired culture. Training programmes that equip leaders to effectively lead remote teams and promote a positive culture are important, as is encouraging them to embody the desired cultural traits by providing them with the tools to be able to effectively lead a remote or hybrid environment.

3. Employee Engagement: To support an inclusive culture where all employees feel valued and heard, regardless of their location or working arrangement, employees must be actively involved in the culture-building process in order to solicit their feedback, address concerns, and integrate their perspectives into the evolving cultural framework. This participatory approach promotes a sense of ownership and engagement. The McKinsey report also suggests prioritising inclusivity and mental health. Creating a supportive environment that recognises the unique challenges of remote work is critical to a positive workplace culture.

Identifying and Mitigating Key Risks as Part of Your Quality Management System

Hybrid working models introduce new risks, so regular audits and updates are essential. The most effective way for us has been to incorporate the ‘building the desired culture’ model into our quality management system as part of the ISO standards that we have introduced and maintained over the years. Key risks we have identified with hybrid model:

1.            Communication Gaps: Remote working can lead to communication breakdowns and people drawing conclusions that are not based on facts. To mitigate this risk, it’s important to create clear communication channels, utilise technology, and promote transparency. You can never have enough communication when it comes to issues that are important to employees. Therefore, we need to examine and question whether current communication practises with people managers, current meetings, and implemented tools enable effective communication and collaboration across the organisation.

2.            Isolation and Influence on Employee Engagement: Employees can feel isolated or disengaged in a remote environment. This can be countered by encouraging regular virtual interactions, team-building activities, and recognising and rewarding achievements. The McKinsey study “The Future of Mental Health at Work” suggests prioritising mental health and wellbeing and taking steps to promote work-life balance, provide mental health resources, and create a supportive work environment.

3.         Cybersecurity Risks in the Remote Workplace: The increase in remote connections increases the attack surface for potential cyber threats and poses a significant risk to the integrity of the organisation. As a major provider of SOC services, we suggest you implement robust cybersecurity protocols and regularly train your employees on cybersecurity.

NIL model of nurturing the desired culture


Towards the Reset 

Our company has successfully implemented the steps described above in the past, and they are still at the centre to support our ever-evolving corporate culture. Building a desired culture in the context of hybrid working is not just a question of adaptation, but a strategic imperative for sustainable business growth that requires a reset. In the era of hybrid work, aligning corporate culture with corporate strategy is not just a necessity, but a strategic advantage.

The interview was originally published in AmCham Slovenia’s Dialogue.