Let’s face it; many of us are tired of hearing terms like the “new normal” and “the future of work.” Regardless, what lies ahead for workplaces is in constant flux. However, one thing is certain: the need for business leaders to better support employees has never been more apparent.

Wrk hosted a Twitter chat through which leaders in the People & Culture space shared valuable lessons for supporting teams moving forward. We’ll unpack some of these insights here.

In-person, remote, and hybrid work teams

Many leadership teams are in the process of deciding what the future of the workplace looks like. Companies like Twitter, Facebook, Slack, and Shopify announced that employees can work from home permanently, with the option to work onsite or in designated co-working spaces. Many other companies have adopted a hybrid work model, whereby employees will split their time between working in the office and remotely. But with the pandemic, workloads have increased for many, which can lead to stress and employee burnout. The need for different work options continues to grow. While most Twitter chat participants agreed that the future of work is hybrid, they said flexibility is key to ensuring employees have a positive work-life balance and autonomy. 

Our own Director of Marketing Kelsea Gust noted that Wrk will remain a remote-first organization but that we plan to open work bases in select cities with shared desks, personal cubbies, and a lot of whiteboards for brainstorming and collaboration sessions. 

“The goal is to create fluid spaces where folks can build relationships, brainstorm, and have deeper conversations in person, but keep the focus, accessibility, and comfort of a WFH world.”

Further, panelists agreed that even in hybrid settings, employers should work to carry forward some of the benefits of a remote approach. Some of the key suggestions for employers included:

  • Asynchronous working schedules

  • Flexibility around office hours

  • Less travel

  • Investment in tech that supports flexible work (options like Slack or Trello)

  • Dedicated quiet rooms for more focussed work 

  • Emphasizing work on quality over the location

Ultimately, organizations should listen to their teams, as Nicole L. Turner, an organizational culture and Diversity & Inclusion expert, said there is no “one size fits all” approach. 

One way to ensure all needs are considered is to conduct a survey, as mentioned by Tia Fomenoff, Senior Director, People and Culture at Thinkific.

Fostering a positive and inclusive work culture

While workplaces themselves have transformed, so too have teams across all industries. Employees were let go at the pandemic's beginning or left their positions, and new employees were onboarded remotely. With this, work cultures in general, have changed. How can employers continue to foster a positive, safe, inclusive, and welcoming work culture when many teams haven’t physically been together in over a year?

“Change, transition, and adjustment need compassion and patience. It’s essential to remember that not everyone processes change at the same pace, and people will need different things to feel safe and ready to be productive in a new or shifted context,” said Melissa Hui, Founder, and Managing Partner of Context Leap.

Nicole L. Turner sharing thoughts during Wrk People & Culture Twitter chat

Organizational culture and Diversity & Inclusion expert Nicole L. Turner shared her thoughts during our Twitter chat.

The emphasis was on ensuring employees have the proper tools and technology for a seamless and connected experience. Aoife O’Brien, Founder of Happier at Work and the Happier at Work podcast, stated that one of the biggest concerns for remote workers will be visibility—better projects, promotions, and networking opportunities. She said that leaders can organize one-on-one meetings with remote workers. This ensures they have visibility and that meetings should occur online to be inclusive to teams in hybrid mode. 

Supporting caregivers in the workplace

The pandemic was also a major adjustment for working caregivers. A Catalyst survey of 1,000 working parents revealed that many believe that being a parent is a strike against them in the workplace. In fact, 41% said they have less job security because of the pandemic and fear being penalized at work due to childcare responsibilities. 42% fear taking advantage of benefits their workplaces offer for working parents could risk employment, with 39% thinking they could be terminated if they did so. In another report about unpaid caregivers by Embracing Carers, 65% said the pandemic has made caregiving harder and 56% believe they will lose their job due to the time commitment needed to be a caregiver.

How can companies better support primary caregivers? Panelists said that empathy, flexibility, and accessibility are a must. 

“I write this from Italy,” said Jennifer Magnolfi Astill, a space habitat and human-machine team researcher and advocate for People & Culture. “Once the epicentre of the pandemic, Italy has reminded me that we are all caregivers. We all can relate to caring for a loved one, a friend, a colleague. We are all caregivers. Powerful corporate culture can grow from this principle.”

Synchronous versus asynchronous communication 

In a remote world, asynchronous communication, has been the primary mode of collaboration during the past 15 months. Technology has allowed organizations to continue communicating, no matter where employees are. We asked if asynchronous communication should remain a priority post-pandemic and how employers can ensure this is the case in in-person and remote settings.

The answer was a resounding yes. “Asynchronous communication is invaluable, but it’s just as important to identify what communication should be LIVE — avoiding a convoluted email chain with a 5-minute video call is a great way of aligning, then following up with key takeaways keeps everyone accountable,” said Kelsea Gust. In addition to sharing her thoughts during our Twitter chat by drawing from Wrk’s own support for teams, Kelsea also spoke to our unique culture in our recent eBook, “Automation for the People.”

Final lessons for supporting People & Culture

Summing up how to best support People & Culture in a string of Tweets is impossible. This conversation is neverending. Regardless of your role in your organization, we encourage you to continue carrying this important topic forward. 

Head of Talent at OMERS Ventures Jenny do Forno shares one final lesson about People & Culture.

Communications specialist Beth McPhedran shares one final lesson about People & Culture

Tia Fomenoff, Senior Director of People & Culture at Thinkific shares one final lesson about People & Culture.

Want to know more about how Wrk can support your HR team? Check it out here.