Activating Culture? Be Intentional About Connections

According to a recent Gallup survey, one-third of hybrid workers (hybrid workers currently represent 33% of the full-time workforce) would quit if required to return to the office full time. Additionally, 67% of fully remote workers (this currently is about 10% of the full-time workforce) would also resign.

With this seismic transition to the workplace, organizations continue to be challenged on activating and maintaining culture norms and behaviors throughout a dispersed workforce. Research indicates that employees’ experiences vary, resulting in more siloed organizations with clear gaps in communication and relationships. Let’s review some of what we are hearing from company leaders regarding the situations facing their workplace.


It’s logical to assume that some people will not be as effective in their jobs when taking advantage of the distractions of working from home. Data suggests that’s not necessarily the case. According to a recent survey in the Washington Post, 48% of employees working from home mention the commute as a major motivating factor in wanting a hybrid or flexible work model. Commuters spend almost an hour a day getting to and from work, so the ability to work from home allows those two hours to be more productive. The reality is the U.S. is experiencing a productivity boom that should calm the concerns of the hybrid workplace.

Connections & Relationships

The key is being intentional about getting those all-important in-person interactions while in the office. Remote work does bring challenges, including communication barriers, feelings of isolation, and a lack of team spirit.

Since remote work increases employees’ autonomy, colleagues and direct managers may experience a perceived loss of connection toward others. The key is finding opportunities to engage in dialogue with others. Be proactive and avoid waiting until something goes wrong to facilitate a conversation with others. Find a time to schedule lunch or grab coffee (in person) before the day gets going. Whether colleagues are working from home or at the office (especially when they are frequently in the office when you are not) be sure to keep in close contact with them, understanding not just the ins and outs of their working routine but also whichever personal or social aspects they are willing to share. Being physically distant doesn’t mean people must be emotionally disconnected.

When done right, not only are there no career disadvantages for hybrid workers compared to those coming in every day, but there are actually advantages. The “highly valued” flexible working model has major benefits for businesses through significant increases in employee retention because of the flexibility.

Inequity & Proximity Bias

Hybrid workplaces create a risk of “proximity bias,” where employees who spend more time in the office might receive more visibility, opportunities, and potentially favorable treatment compared to their remote colleagues. The Wall Street Journal reported recently that people working from home got promoted 31% less frequently in the past year than office-based employees. The key becomes finding ways to connect remote staff so they receive the same advancement opportunities as their in-person colleagues.

Leveraging methods like mentoring, group coaching, and peer reflection opportunities can help strengthen connections and build more diverse relationships throughout the organization.

Be Intentional with Bringing People Together

The hybrid or flexible workplace is and should be here to stay as it creates flexibility and adaptability of the workforce. To effectively activate cultural beliefs and to create experiences for every employee that shape beliefs and drive expected behaviors, organizations need to be strategic with opportunities where they bring people back to the workplace.

Offer more learning and development opportunities that bring employees together for in-person programs. Integrate experiential team development into learning programs where possible.

Integrate group coaching as an element to learning and development programs. This methodology drives more collaboration, relationship building, and the ability to create more opportunities for employees to communicate, share stories, and coach or mentor one another.

Create opportunities for employees from different departments or teams to work together on projects. This not only promotes collaboration but also encourages knowledge sharing and innovation. Make sure to encourage occasional in-person meetings.

Implementing these strategies requires commitment and ongoing effort from all levels of the organization. By prioritizing collaboration, companies can harness the full potential of their hybrid work model, fostering a productive, engaged, and cohesive workforce.

For more information on how your organization can integrate practices and processes that support the effectiveness of a hybrid workforce and improve productivity, commitment, and retention, contact LAK Group.