As a leader, you’ve probably come across the famous quote attributed to Peter Drucker that “culture eats strategy for breakfast”.
To understand whether that’s still the case in the face of economic uncertainty, we sat down with Peter Komornik, Slido’s co-founder and General Manager ahead of our Slido Elevate event.
“Company culture goes on the back burner for some organizations when there is an increased focus on profitability, but it’s actually during challenging periods that culture becomes even more important,” Peter says.
“During moments like these, you have to rely on your employees to come together, and that’s when great organizations shine, compared to the good and average ones.”
Research shows that when organizational health and employee satisfaction is prioritized, performance and productivity will naturally follow, with a study by Gallup showing that companies with highly engaged employees are 21% more profitable.
The three pillars of a healthy company culture
Leaders may assume that in-person interactions are the best way to connect and nurture company culture, with this being a primary reason for bringing employees back into the office.
However, research from Zippia shows that 74% of US workplaces are now operating a permanent hybrid working model or planning to implement one.
This means that hybrid organizations that are keen to improve their culture (and inherit the performance benefits) will have to be even more intentional about it to allow culture to thrive.
Peter believes there are three key pillars for a healthy hybrid organization, which are “open communication, inclusive collaboration, and a sense of community”.
“When we are in the office, these elements happen more naturally, but in a remote or hybrid setup, companies need to be more intentional and thoughtful about making sure that they’re implemented,” he says.
#1. Open communication
Peter explains that transparent communication is especially important during unstable economic times, when changes may be happening within an organization.
From a change of direction, to anything important concerning people’s jobs, transitions need to be communicated effectively to employees.
“You need to make sure that your team knows what’s going on and this has to flow not just from the top down, but also across colleagues that work together. It’s about being aligned and it’s a key aspect of building trust,” Peter explains.
Open communication has been at the heart of Slido since it was founded. A company-wide all-hands meeting is scheduled each month, with a chunk of time set aside for people to ask questions – anonymously if they wish – via Slido’s Q&A feature.
“We answer questions authentically, we share updates and we are very transparent with communication,” Peter explains.
Another regular communication that employees can expect is Peter’s weekly Monday Morning Meeting (MMM), recorded via Vidcast.
As we’ve grown, this is a meeting that’s evolved from an in-person meeting with everyone in the same room to being shared completely asynchronously.
“My weekly MMM also helps to build trust, as people at Slido know that if there’s anything big happening in the company then they will hear about it there first.”
#2. A sense of community
Research from Enboarder shows that 94% of employees feel they’re more productive when they feel more connected to their colleagues.
“Creating a thriving company culture is all about making sure that people feel that they’re contributing to a meaningful goal or purpose,” Peter says. “You want your team to feel that they share something in common.”
Each year, Slido meets for an in-person company offsite, with employees attending from all over the world.
“Investing in the company offsites is a priority for us, even during tough economic times. Our offsites help to keep our company culture alive, especially in a hybrid working environment,” Peter says.
“It’s an opportunity to connect in person, to answer their questions, and make sure that employees feel aligned and part of the bigger picture. Remote work is a great thing, but there’s a certain energy that you can only get from in-person interactions.”
At Gainsight, which has a fully remote working policy, there’s an initiative to start doing social meetups as soon as there are 10 people working in a local area.
“I love this idea,” says Peter. “This allows employees to make connections, even when in a remote environment, and gives people the chance to recharge their energy.”
#3. Inclusive collaboration
The third ‘key pillar’, inclusive collaboration, is particularly important when working in a hybrid model.
Once you’ve created a more connected community, it’ll be so much easier for employees to work together and share ideas, no matter where they are in the world.
“No matter if someone is based in Canada or India, you have to invest in ways for them to contribute and feel that they’re an important part of the team,” Peter says.
This investment may be in the form of async work tools that allow employees to collaborate at a time that suits them best, no matter what their time zone or caring duties are.
“The key to making a distributed team work, is to have a remote-first mindset, and this is what we try and strive for at Slido,” Peter says.
“If you are in the office, you have the responsibility to make sure that everyone joining remotely has a great experience, too.
“You can do this by collecting questions in advance of your meeting via Slido, so that the topics that teammates want to discuss get raised, and rotating the times of your meetings so that distributed teammates get the chance to attend.”
Wider company values
For Peter, a great company culture is further-reaching than just what goes on during the working day.
“We want Slido’s core values – simply clever, we care and don’t stop – to be more than just a slogan on a wall in the office. We want our values to be represented by our people every day, by the way we treat our customers and colleagues.
“That’s why we always talk about our core values during company offsites and regularly share examples in smaller groups as well as public settings.
“We use them to help us make everyday decisions – from hiring new colleagues, to building our product or giving feedback to each other. They are at the core of who we are and how we like to treat each other at Slido.”
Another vital value within Slido’s company culture is that of Freedom and Responsibility. Even before the pandemic, Slido has been a hybrid company, with some people working from home and some in the office, or a mix of both.
Employees are given the autonomy and flexibility to get their work done in the hours that suit them best.
“It’s a system that works on mutual trust and respect and promotes maintaining a healthy work/life balance,” says Peter.
Are you looking to improve your team culture?
Then take a look at the videos from our Slido Elevate event, How to Build a Healthy Team Culture in a Hybrid World.
Peter was joined on a panel by Anna Binder, Head of People at Asana and Kelly O’Blennis, VP, Teammate Success at Gainsight.
At the event, they discussed strategies and tools for building a healthy organization – no matter where staff are working from.
“Asana operates a hybrid model, with a flexible, office-centric culture, while Gainsight has a fully remote policy, and at Slido, we encourage people to come to the office as much as they like.
“It was so fascinating to hear from both companies on the pros and cons of their hybrid systems,” Peter says.
There are also presentations from Arlen Love, Senior Customer Experience Manager at T-Mobile, and Craig Forman, Lead People Scientist at Culture Amp.