5 Steps to a Healthy Hybrid Work Culture
In his book, Remote Not Distant: Designing a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Work Place, author Gustavo Razzetti makes the case for shifting to hybrid work models, and he provides a roadmap for how to do so intentionally. He spends substantial time at the beginning of the book debunking myths which are typically employed to validate in person work over remote or hybrid work. In fact, Razzetti masterfully yet simply communicates foundational ideas while gently challenging preconceived notions about work culture.
What is Culture?
Razzetti defines culture as the environment that helps people do their best work. He writes, “Leaders often think that having a set of core values or a purpose statement is the same as defining their company culture. However, culture is more than that. It’s a complex interconnected system. Great leaders focus both on the forest and the trees.”
Razzetti maps out five steps for creating healthy, vibrant cultures in the workplace:
⁃ Reset your culture
⁃ Reimagine Your Shared Future
⁃ Reignite Belonging
⁃ Rethink Collaboration
⁃ Release Agility
Reset your culture
The author offers 5 key mindset shifts. I resonated deeply with his modest shift “From work-life Balance to Work-Life Integration”. I feel this happened by accident in my particular case. Working from home meant that my days were broken up and punctuated by every day life and family tasks and rhythms. Prior to Covid I was rarely able to exercise. With two small kids the beginnings and endings of my days were spent with them and I Rarely had time to do anything else. Now, because of remote/hybrid work, I’m able to exercise and do incredible work. This connects to one of the other mind set shifts, “from one-size-fits-all to flexibility”.
Reimagine Your Shared Future
Razzetti hones in on the concept of purpose. He writes, “ Simply put, your purpose defines your “why”. Page 66 Essentially, why does your company exist? Purpose provides an anchor for teams win crisis or transition come, but the purpose must be people-centered, and not outcome-centered.
The concept of psychological safety was wonderful to read and provided a word that was different than the loaded term “trust.” Razzetti illustrates three levels in the psychological safety spectrum:
Level 1: Welcome
Level 2: Courageous Conversations
Level 3: innovation
These levels must be taken one step at a time, Razzetti explains. In my experience this is incredibly difficult to attain because individuals on teams have various relationships to work, their supervisors, and frankly their own history with employment. So psychological safety cannot necessarily be driven through one on one relationships, but must be an atmosphere everyone Radiates and cultivate.
Razzetti had several gold nuggets in this part. His six modes of Collaboration for distributed teams and the subsequent diagram, was enlightening (diagram below). I work on two distributed teams with graduate admissions and Portland Seminary. Razzetti’s six modes helped me to diagnose my teams as fundamentally healthy and successful. Ultimately, distributed teams need to engage each of the six modes, and balance is key.
In the final step, Razzetti names the shift people have made in how they think about work, and why leaders must take not. He writes, “People used to design their personal lives around work. Now they want to organize work around their personal lives. Flexibility is not only a vital indicator of happiness, it also enables your team to do great work.”
This shift requires many adjustments to former ways of imagining work and workplace culture/norms. Teams who transition to a more agile hybrid model, must do the work of defining the model that works best for the individuals, team, and organization. Regardless of the model a team lands on, in reality, a hybrid work culture constantly evolves, so it’s important to think less fixed and more agile.
Gustavo Razzetti’s work here is affirms the cultural movement toward hybrid work, but gives researched and accessible data for why this is, and why employers and leaders must adapt. A recent article by the Washington Post defined and detailed the term Quiet Thriving to talk about how people can find ways to thrive regardless of their work environment. Their list of 10 steps include things like “advocate for a cause,” “set boundaries,” and “insert fun breaks.” These steps are not new, but they are now possible within a hybrid work environment, because employees now have time and energy that was previously spent on a variety on showing up to in person, synchronous work alone. On personal note, I can attest that I would have left my job had we not shifted to a hybrid work model. Because we did, I feel I’m doing thoughtful work, getting the exercise I need, and getting to see my family a few hours more each day.
Finally, as Gustavo Razzetti asserts, switching from in-office to hybrid work is not simply a matter of different containers. This switch requires thoughtful intention, flexibility, and a growth mindset. I’m my work as an admission counselor, I meet prospective students who are decided between multiple hybrid seminaries. I always advise them to ask the question “What does your hybrid model entail? What are the specific rhythms?” Just because a seminary, organization, or team is hybrid, does not mean it is healthy or even function. I’ll carry Razzetti’s wisdom with me for some time.
 Gustavo Razzetti, Remote Not Distant: Design a Company Culture That Will Help You Thrive in a Hybrid Workplace (Liberationist Press, 2022). 15.
 Razzetti. 235.
8 responses to “5 Steps to a Healthy Hybrid Work Culture”
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.
Michael, what a comprehensive post and great summary of the book. I have a broad question based on what you said here near the end of the post: “Just because a seminary, organization, or team is hybrid, does not mean it is healthy or even function.” What indicators would you look for as a leader to assess whether or not the organization is doing hybrid in a healthy way? P.S. praying that Liz is well!
Ah thanks Roy! Yeah, I think hybrid work can be a buzz word and leaders can decide to launch hybrid work models or even hybrid learning models. I think health can be measured by the “fruit” produced by the people. Thinking specifically about hybrid education, unhealth may look like low retention/graduation rates, complaints about online support and communication. Similarly, health would look like its opposite and ultimately such a program would grow.
What thoughts do you have?
Hello, Michael (read in a Gob Bluth voice).
You and Kayli have a unique context around organizational culture in that you both work for higher education. As you process Razzetti, what are the most challenging aspects of social change within an educational institution?
Yeah that’s a really good question. I’ve heard it said that any decision/indecision made by a higher ed institution, regardless of how unpopular it is, it only takes 2 years for it to cycle out of the institutional memory. This can be a blessing, but I see it leading to a lack of accountability for decision-makers, particularly on the undergraduate side. This is less true of the graduate/doctoral side where program is more dependent of word-of-mouth recommendations by alum.
Undergraduate students are also always the same age (18-22), while faculty and staff can remain at the same institution for decades. On one hand this can be really stabilizing but on the other can create a lot of stagnation.
Great summary of this book, Michael. I empathize with the increased challenges the shift to hybrid/remote has brought for higher education, but as you mentioned, it does impact undergraduate at a different level than graduate programs that generally already incorporate some level of online or asynchronous work. As you’ve navigated recruitment for the programs as the pandemic restrictions have been recently lifting, do you notice any trends in the desires of potential students in regards to wanting or not to be remote?
Well summarized, Michael. It had some similarities to Troy’s.
As you think about these rhythms, and also rhythms with your wife and kids, what wisdom have you gleaned that you would share with others as they either step into a more remote work setting (i.e., me) or they simply try to adjust to the new norms? Also, what needs to change from the top down to be more accommodating of these changes?
Yeah I noticed that. I found Razzetti’s 5 steps a good centering layout.
Yeah, I would say agree with Razzetti on the need for ritual for beginnings and endings. I had a friend who started taking a drive at the beginning of each day, so that when he sat down to work, he felt he had commuted and more practically got space from home before starting work. I often take early morning walks for similar reasons. If you’re more extraverted, its important to connect with people throughout your work week, or choose to work in busier places.
Hybrid work is a great time to questions assumptions about the nature of work too. Razzetti talks about chunks of time for hybrid teams, but the same is true for individuals. Breaking the day in to micro-sprints can keep you fresh, engaged, and more productive.
Michael this was a fantastic summary! Thank you!
What are the ways you might compare and contrast An Everyone Culture with Razzetti’s position on work life integration?