3D Isometric Flat Vector Conceptual Illustration of Hybrid Office, Teleworking and Online Distributed Team

Hybrid work environments pose threat to corporate culture

Business leaders are confident they will be able to maintain their culture in a long-term hybrid environment but remain concerned about the negative impact of the pandemic on employees, a new study has revealed.

But while 76 per cent believe that a hybrid working environment will not damage their culture, they also cite several aspects that are having a negative impact.

The Tech for Progress 360: Engage employees, strengthen company culture study, conducted on behalf of professional services agency Genpact, surveyed 500 senior executives across the UK, US, Canada, Japan, and Germany. Two thirds envisage hybrid working arrangements will endure for the next year, while just 13 per cent say their employees are mostly back in the office.

It found that nine out of ten bosses are now concerned that employee interactions have moved toward problem-solving and away from socialising, which potentially affects how colleagues build their personal networks by reducing those casual interactions and exchanges that take place within an office environment.

42% say remote working has impacted interactions between junior and senior employees

Genpact itself is now addressing this issue through the use of Watercooler, a Microsoft application which schedules 15 minute meetings between colleagues who have not connected in several months. (Within eight months, it had scheduled tens of thousands of meetings; 53 per cent of employees had more than ten apiece.)

This ability to build networks and form relationships is also critical to the onboarding experience, but almost half of those surveyed – 48 per cent – agreed that remote working has negatively impacted their organisation’s ability to integrate new hires into the culture.

Similarly, remote working limits connections across different levels of an organisation, which potentially hinders the development of future leaders. Four in ten – 42 per cent – of respondents claim remote working has negatively impacted the connection between junior and senior employees.

The report also reveals a disconnect between remote and onsite working. While 59 per cent of executives believe virtual meeting technology offers the greatest potential for enhancing teamwork, just 11 per cent recognise the benefits from enhancing onsite meeting room technology to ensure that those connecting remotely do not suffer from, for example, delayed responses or screeching feedback. To successfully embrace hybrid working, remote workers must not feel at a disadvantage to onsite colleagues.

Tiger Tyagarajan, chief executive of Genpact, adds: ‘In a post pandemic world, leading companies will be defined not just by their ability to get work done but in their ability to create agile, adaptable, hybrid work environments that allow culture and creativity to thrive.’