With hybrid workspaces becoming the new norm, it’s imperative that business leaders cultivate and maintain positive workplace culture. With ‘The Great Return’ underway, building a company culture that is aligned with new work behaviors should be a primary focus.
As a way of improving workplace culture in hybrid work environments, executives turn to tried-and-true methods like championing individualism and assigning people to manage culture-focused initiatives. Though simple, copy-and-pasting these ‘tactics’ won’t cut it in today’s modern workplaces, which all present their own unique set of challenges and demands. With adaptability at the forefront of hybrid work culture, businesses should swap this antiquated method for an experimental approach. This will provide employees with the tools to drive cultural changes organically.
The importance of creating shared cultural moments remains the same in hybrid work settings. They can bring people together in ways that foster authentic connections and enable them to better express their values, humor, and behaviors than top-down incentives. The question is: how can leaders encourage this without forcing interaction?
With the explosion of consumer platforms, like TikTok which exceeded Google’s traffic in 2021, enterprises have started to tap into the popular genre of consumer technology for inspiration. Consumer tech has shifted the expectations of what it means to interact with an audience. TikTok’s success in building a community has inspired business platforms like Loom and Slack to borrow elements of this macrotrend to facilitate workplace connections. As a result, employees are empowered to communicate in the modern workplace in a way that feels natural, shaping company culture in their path.
Every Employee is a Consumer
Consumer tech behavior is having a direct influence on the hybrid workplace. After all, every employee is a consumer. The 24/7 nature of social media, combined with the younger, tech-savvy, and digital-native workforce, has encouraged this transition.
In today’s consumer world, people expect technology to be seamless and accessible at any time, anywhere. Collaboration is also expected, especially at a social level – just see how user participation has become a key aspect of Instagram and TikTok’s recent developments. These same expectations apply in today’s corporate sector as people want to share ideas in a way that’s intuitive and simple. According to research, excessively complex technology has a detrimental impact on worker productivity and engagement. But with digital transformation catching fire, businesses are increasingly adopting technology that facilitates workplace connections and continuous serendipitous interactions with ease.
Employees can gain a sense of purpose through this technology, much like what we see in the consumer world via messaging platforms and social media. McKinsey reported that 70 percent of professionals believe their work defines their sense of purpose. When employees have access to the right tools, they can share knowledge, break down silos, and form stronger connections. As a result, community, camaraderie, collaboration, and communication – all built on a strong sense of purpose – can be achieved.
Company culture is the real winner when a strong sense of community is established. Ultimately, the community can foster a culture that supports and encourages staff to be themselves. In a Simmons University survey, 90 percent of respondents said that authenticity is extremely important in the workplace. With the younger workforce changing expectations of ‘business speak’, businesses must empower their employees with the freedom and flexibility to communicate and work in ways that work for them. Allowing for more nuanced, expressive interactions, and alleviating employees of the pressure to be polished and ‘corporate’, is now essential. This trend has been influenced in part by consumer tech behavior, which is informal, authentic, and light-hearted by nature.
With experience at the core of any technology – consumer and enterprise – many workplace technology platforms are starting to catch on, offering personalized content recommendations based on the user’s preferences, as well as integrating creative elements like GIFs and video.
Lights, Camera, Record!
Demand for video in the workplace has accelerated thanks to consumer video platforms such as Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube. Organizations can rely on video as one of their most impactful tools in connecting and coordinating their workforce. By capturing body language and real emotion, video can bring people closer together on a personal level that just can’t be expressed through words alone. In the consumer world, the ability to broadcast live videos, modify video content, and share it instantly and efficiently has dismantled obstacles to video that have historically existed, such as user confidence, usability, and accessibility. The benefits of video to businesses – particularly in terms of culture – are difficult to deny as people get more accustomed to it.
Asynchronous (or async) video is a great illustration of how video can help teams connect and collaborate more effectively. Loom’s entirely hybrid team have utilized async video by sharing creative content like parody Twitter demos, garden tours, and original songs. Without corporate incentives in place, these initiatives emerged from a company-wide appreciation for video’s potential to motivate creativity and experimentation.
Establishing a Habit
The fact remains that video is still drastically underused in the workplace. Much like the consumer world, the adoption of video in the workplace involves two steps: the ‘magic moment’ and the ‘habit moment.’
When the realization sets in that video is quick and easy to create, the first magic moment happens. If people don’t experience video at least once, it is difficult for them to understand its value, especially with such a variety of communication tools available.
The ‘habit moment’ comes next. It is at this point that a user begins to realize that creating a video is something they should be doing on a daily basis for a variety of reasons, from combating meeting fatigue to accelerating comprehension among hybrid teams. The habit moment begins when you can see how video is reducing meetings, scaling information, documenting precious knowledge, and accelerating productivity and performance for both individuals and teams.
Typically, the ‘habit moment’ is when a user becomes a consistent user of the application or platform. In the hybrid workplace, it’s not only imperative that the technology is available across all platforms for this moment to become a reality, but also that it encourages teams to produce videos together. Once a video is shared, a chain of viral reactions is built, similar to the one that occurs among consumers when they share native Instagram or Facebook content, for example.
It is clear to see that the use of light-lift systems for subtle, expressive interaction is important for building stronger connections and affinity in the workplace. We live within an aspirational era of modern work. And encouraging employees to share a part of themselves via video – work-related or not – can make a huge difference when driving company culture as the hybrid workplace is reinvented.
The author, Joe Thomas, is CEO of Loom.