How to Prevent 'Us Versus Them' Culture for Hybrid Teams

How to Prevent 'Us Versus Them' Culture for Hybrid Teams

 Betsy Blog (1)Betsy Scherer

Jenny Dearborn (Chief People Officer @ Klaviyo) and Kim Mullaney (former VP, People @ Zapier) shared best practices for preventing 'us versus them' culture as teams move towards a hybrid structure. Think: a mix of remote and in-office employees. Here's what we learned...

Investing in your employee's physical space...

  • Stress the importance of a dedicated work space. Do your employees have an ergonomically sound work environment at home? If it's in the budget, offer ergonomic 1:1 sessions with specialists as well as reimburse employees up to $1,500 to outfit their home office. 
  • Consider finding a space for team members who cannot function well at home. Whether it's multiple roommates or children, identify the team members that would benefit from an office space focused on health and safety. 

How to embrace asynchronous communication...

  • Set a precedent. Asynchronous communication can be overwhelming so its key to establish structure and context. Make sure there are rules and norms set and all team members are aware and on board.
    • As an example, Slack can be used for quick questions, brainstorming sessions, and catch-up conversations while official messaging may be communicated over email. Would your message benefit from a paper trail? Do you need to guarantee everyone sees the message?
  • When implemented correctly, asynchronous communication allows your team to put blocks of time away to actually do their work. It's best to pair with a product management tool like Asana or Trello

When to record meetings...

  • It's best practice to record meetings you want the full team to see. For example, all hands, town halls, lunch and learns, etc. 
  • Have a system in place for recordings. If recording, post it and share. Your staff must know where the recordings live and how they can access them. This works especially well for teams across multiple time zones. 
  • Don't record staff meetings. It's important that staff meetings are a safe space for candid conversations and your team feels comfortable participating. 

How to onboard new team members...

  • The program and content is key. Talk about your culture, your values and bring in your leaders. Whether it's virtual or in-person is less important.
  • Make sure everyone has the same experience. If you're going hybrid, consistency across all teams is key. Everyone should have the same onboarding experience to prevent 'us versus them' culture.

How to develop managers and leaders in a remote world...

  • Read the virtual room. If you're a people manager, it's important to know how your staff is feeling. Are they feeling engaged? How are they managing stress levels?
  • Meetings should be structured with a thought out long-term plan. Artificially create structure to make up for conversations that would have naturally taken place in person.
    • Host a staff call once a week.
    • Have 1:1s with direct reports every week.
      • Once a month, the 1:1 should be focused on direct feedback.
      • Another each month should be focused on upwards feedback.
  • Practice consistency. It's more important than ever for managers to practice follow-through and have meaningful conversations. 

RELATED: Download our COVID-19 Playbook

Why you should implement "water cooler" channels...

  • It's critical to ask how employees are doing in the current climate. Water cooler channels help to spur conversations that would have taken place naturally when in-person. What did folks do over the weekend? Have they tried any new recipes?
  • Prioritize mental health. Keep the communication channels open and make sure people feel comfortable talking openly. You can even dedicate a channel to mental health in Slack. 
  • Reinvent staff meetings. Spend the first 10 minutes of staff meetings to people-oriented conversation. It's important not to just jump right into the agenda.
    • Try a lightening round: what did everyone do this weekend? 
    • What if everyone shares a PG joke before the meeting starts? 

How to safely connect with team members in person...

  • People are desperate for in-person connections.  If you're the leader of a team, make sure folks know its okay to have a socially distanced meetup.
    • Grab coffee in a park but make it socially distanced with masks and sanitizer.
  • Zoom burnout is real. Leaders should make sure their team knows its okay to step away from their laptops. If you believe in quality over quantity and results over effort, verify your team understands this.


Interested in implementing a hybrid team? Learn more about Venture Lane's new membership offering and pricing.