How to Make Company Culture Thrive in a Hybrid-Remote Space

Every business is different and there is no one-size-fits-all approach to the way we work. But what we all have in common is the need to embrace digital-first practices in today’s hybrid work environment. The way we work and how we succeed must work no matter where someone is in the world, as the past year and a half has proven.

Future Forum research shows that 93% of knowledge workers want flexible hours and 76% want location flexibility. While we can be efficient, creative, and productive working from anywhere (in the office, remote, or both), we need to make a focused effort to ensure employees feel connected, seen, and part of the company philosophy.

Desks are just one of our tools for building relationships and creating a focused workspace. Using software like Slack allows for more seamless communication across the company, clarity on exactly where to go to get work done, and a sense of community across social channels and DMs. Speakers from Verizon, Lockheed Martin and Flatiron Health shared their experience on preserving corporate cultures at the Slack Frontiers 2021 conference.

VERIZON

Verizon, a Fortune 500 company that made $128 billion in revenue last year across its consumer and business groups, embraced Slack during the pandemic. It quickly rolled out Slack Connect to reduce meetings and create a more human customer support experience, integrated tools into Slack to reduce where employees need to check for information, and created workflow automations in its Citizen program. Verizon to reduce manual tasks with a workflow that is expected to save about $12 million this year.

When Verizon employees said they missed engaging with their teams in person and having informal discussions about water coolers, it became clear that digital representation was needed. Verizon has created social and people-centric Slack channels so people can interact and collaborate much more with their teams. The company also realized that using emoji would simplify communications, reduce fatigue and free up time for processing information.

Once we have identified you can use an emoji reaction [to] answer a question or a topic, it just took off. It has helped us immensely in our help channels, and other departments have seen it and have been very excited to use it in their own departments and channels. So the emoji reactions were really a game-changer for us.

—Russell Leader, associate director of planning and engineering, Verizon Wireless

LOCKHEED MARTIN

As Lockheed Martin considered rolling out Slack, the pandemic hit and the company accelerated the rollout to its 130,000 employees in a single weekend. He piloted Slack Connect, which he now uses with 30 organizations; created help channels to reduce calls to its help desk and resolve issues faster; and helped shape the creation of GovSlack, an instance of Slack designed to meet the needs of the public sector.

Additionally, Lockheed Martin has embraced the use of Ask Me Anythings (AMA) with its leadership team during the pandemic to connect the organization in real time and have more direct engagement, helping to break down traditional barriers within an organizational structure. Individual employees were able to interact with management and have their voices heard in a way that otherwise would not have arisen.

I remember how excited some of our leaders were when they first did this and got immediate feedback from individual contributors they normally wouldn’t have had a chance to interact with. Now it’s kind of become part of our culture. It’s very exciting, not only for individual employees to have access to such leadership, but also for executives to be able to get this kind of real-time feedback.

—Tim Lewis, Director of Workplace Services, Lockheed Martin

Lockheed Martin also uses a designated Slack channel whenever there is a new corporate rollout, system change, key activity, or benefits update. This allows employees to see all relevant information in one place, ask questions and receive help faster than ever.

FLATIRON HEALTH

Flatiron Health is a technology company whose mission is to learn from the experience of every cancer patient in order to transform the way cancer is treated and researched. Founded in 2012, the company quickly adopted Slack after its launch in 2014, making the software an integral part of its business operations for most of its history. It’s now a global and increasingly matrix-based organization, leveraging Slack to find better and easier ways for people to connect and collaborate.

During the pandemic, Flatiron Health quickly realized that the future of work would never be the same and thought about long-term investments to ensure that all employees would succeed in a world that is both remote and hybrid. So when Slack unveiled the Slack Atlas employee directory, the company was all-in, using it for remote onboarding, peer finding for context before meetings, professional and social connection, and for boost inclusion with pronoun fields and noun pronunciation tools.

Flatiron Health firmly believes that the fewer platforms you have to navigate as an employee, the more productive and satisfied you will be, wherever you work.

I talked about the growth of the company and that is the main reason for my interest in [a] corporate directory, but for the past couple of years the pandemic happened and very immediately we weren’t able to drop by anyone’s office or see any new hires on an office tour. The shift to fully remote working, and now hybrid working, has really exposed some of the gaps in the ways we communicate and collaborate.

Another area that has been very positively impacted by Slack Atlas is integration. Fully remote onboarding is challenging, especially for people used to an in-person experience, and we’ve already received incredible feedback from both new hires and our onboarding team. New hires acclimate more easily to our organization because they can easily reference people and organizational structures and reporting lines and get the information they need when meeting new people.

—Emily Guerin, Communications Manager, Flatiron Health

Focusing on company culture in a remote/hybrid work environment means embracing a digital headquarters and putting real effort into seamless communication, providing digital spaces to connect, and embracing flexibility. It is a transformation that goes beyond the simple provision of tools. To learn more about how brands nurture company culture and to watch Slack Frontiers sessions, visit https://slack.com/frontiers.

Matt O’Connor is senior vice president of Global Customer Success at Slack.