Skip to content

Strategies for Fostering Connections in Hybrid Work Environments

8 minute read

Today’s work environment is much different from a decade ago. Most employees were required to commute to offices, whereas now they could be anywhere in the world. Yet there is often still a need to meet face-to-face, and to have contact with customers via a variety of means – often using technology to facilitate remote working. So, how can it work?  

Engage Employee partnered with Thomas International to ask: If the talent in your organisation is your greatest asset, how do you go about retaining and nurturing it by strengthening connections between people? 

To find out, the Engage Employee Focus Group, facilitated by Alex Clinton, Global Training Specialist at Thomas International, discussed strategies for fostering connections in hybrid work environments. 15 participants, all holding senior roles within employee engagement, joined the discussion and shared their experiences and initiatives used by their organisations, such as the categorisation of employees based on preferences, creating engaging office spaces, and conducting pulse surveys. The group also explored challenges such as time zones, the need for diverse engagement tools, and the temptation for managers to revert to command-and-control tactics. 


Amongst the many findings, it was suggested that hybrid working can be a challenging space to be in. The goal is to turn challenges into personal connections, noting that the expectations of the workforce have changed.  

Key points the group discussed include: 

  • The need to help organisations realise the true potential in their people throughout the lifecycle of employees. 
  • How a group’s compatibility is the key component in their productivity. So, away from any people strategy, from an organisational perspective, a group’s ability to collaborate effectively can lead to an increased competitive advantage. 
  • 50% of people intend to leave their organisations this year. So, how can organisations prevent costly employee churn by making people feel connected to one another? 
  • The importance of making employees feel included and engaged in team activities, and in decision-making processes that might include situations where conflict might occur. 


The Thomas team shared that employees aren’t just asked to come into the office to look and sit at computer screens. Every meeting is tagged to describe their purpose. They have anchor days, team days, team-building days, and social days/occasions.  

The purpose of these occasions is to: 

  • Get to know each other as a team and to make decisions in person. That's the one thing that we found difficult. We found that making decisions when everybody is remote was a lot harder. So, whenever a decision needs to be made, we bring them in. 
  • Remove any resistance to any particular decision with anchor days. However, not everyone will agree no matter what is decided.  

The biggest shift is from everyone working in an office to remote working. With the increase in employees working mostly from home, but in theory from anywhere, the choice of real estate is now about having modern and engaging hub office space to create the hybrid environment people want to work in.  


The following was also revealed: 

  • Currently, 35% of people are working mostly from home. 
  • There is a shift to include face-to-face contact.  
  • The people who are not caregivers feel more pressure to come back to the office, which is said to be not that inclusive. 
  • A Pulse survey considered how much time people need to commute (on average about an hour or more), and whether there is a need for satellite office. To reduce travel, it’s thought that satellite offices could be a good solution.  
  • Younger employees in particular want to socialise, making socialisation a priority.  

Delegates also discussed how the Covid-19 pandemic was a catalyst for hybrid working. Strategies included the creation of working groups, while establishing the rules for hybrid working, and allowing employees to help create the protocols.  

Employee feedback suggests that this was the best thing that happened to them. In fact, in one country they decide to work one week from home and one week from the office. As part of this process, they regularly report to their team leaders. So, connections are fostered by allowing employees to drive the strategies, trusting them to make the right decisions about how they would prefer to work, and where they can work productively.  

To learn more about the strategies to foster connections in hybrid environments, you can reach out to the Thomas team:  


By Graham Jarvis, Editor

Keep up to date with the latest events, resources and articles.

Sign-up for the Engage Employee Newsletter