Retaining culture in a hybrid working environment

Retaining culture in a hybrid working environment

Rather than return to how things were, we have the opportunity to evolve and do them better.

The COVID pandemic has changed working life and while some may retain hope that we’ll return to ‘normal’, at Rock we’ve transitioned into a new normal… we’re not looking back. Now that the option to return to the office is there, we’ve chosen to take on a hybrid working model with our team working from home for two days per week, and coming in for three.

It was a decision we came to together – we wanted the best of both worlds: the catch-ups and coffee machine; the tracksuit and commute-free days. The pandemic taught us we could have both without losing efficiency and a great working culture.

Why it works for us

The future of work is flexible, this feels undeniable. COVID showed us that we have the tools to work remotely and stay connected as a team, it was just our thinking that was holding us back.

As a digital agency, digital communication is our area of speciality so it makes sense we’d adapt well to remote work. But, without COVID forcing us into lockdown there’s never before been the opportunity to test the theory in an agency-wide capacity.

Discovering we could be equally productive and efficient was one thing; but, establishing new communication habits has been key to keeping the team together. In fact, where some businesses have reported working from home being detrimental to company culture, we’ve experienced the opposite. Habits formed during lockdown have brought us closer together and remained – even carried over to our office days.

For example, starting every day with a morning meeting, whether online or in the office, has become integral to our working process. A chance for everyone to share their working goals for the day, ask questions, and flag any scheduling issues. Sounds simple, but it helps everyone keep the day’s work contained to the day, and helps us balance work across the team so the load is shared equally.

A hybrid working culture is also better for practising what we preach in terms of diversity and inclusion. It’s made life more manageable for the parents among us, and attracted talent from further afield who would otherwise not have joined us in a full-time return to office.

Adapting to a hybrid working schedule has also defined Rock’s culture at a deeper level. It’s put our company structure with its flat hierarchy to the test because working from home inherently defies micromanagement. For us, that means asking our team members to work with a greater sense of both freedom and responsibility – to have autonomy over managing work and time; and ownership on the projects they commit to. We have a team environment that’s built on trust where everyone feels their voice matters, regardless of age, experience or time in the company. That trust ultimately creates great work, but even more importantly, an enjoyable and fulfilling time getting it done.

Rock Agency is located on the unceded lands of the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung people. We acknowledge and respect them as the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work, and pay our respects to their Elders, past and present.