2 minutes to read Posted on Wednesday April 6, 2022

Updated on Wednesday April 6, 2022

portrait of Albert Verhaar

Albert Verhaar

Business Operations Director , Europeana Foundation

How we are developing a hybrid working culture at the Europeana Foundation

In the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Europeana Foundation published some of its learnings and tips for working from home. Now, as we start to adapt to a new world of work, we share what we’ve done so far to develop a hybrid working culture for our organisation.

Flowerpots on a windowsill looking over a city
Title:
Detail from View from the artist's room
Creator:
Martinus Rørbye Martinus Christian Wesseltoft Rørbye
Date:
1825
Institution:
National Gallery of Denmark
Country:
Denmark

Like so many people around the globe, from March 2020, staff at the Europeana Foundation were forced to work from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. At that time, we thought this might be for a couple of months, never imagining that our working and private lives would be influenced for such a long period. 

It soon became apparent that although we were no longer working together in an office, our productivity in general didn’t change, and in some areas even increased. So, we started to look at options to better support our staff to work from home, and explored how we could combine this with working from the office when this was once again possible. 

Five steps to developing our hybrid working vision 

Hybrid working empowers people to choose where (and when) they work. It is a hot topic at the moment, with many discussions, articles and expert advice available on how to develop a hybrid working culture, and which shiny new tools to use. But is it really about the tools? At the Europeana Foundation, we think it is about the people. Here’s the approach we’ve taken so far to develop our vision for hybrid working, with some steps that you could follow.

1. Form a team

In May 2021, a working group of colleagues from across the organisation came together with an external consultant with expertise in organisational development to look at some scenarios and identify the values that would underpin our hybrid working culture. Our starting point was that our interaction and not our location should be our driver. Our goal - a healthy hybrid culture that suits the needs of both our colleagues and the organisation. 

2. Decide on your process

We decided on an iterative approach - taking small concrete steps and updating all staff on a regular basis in order to gather their feedback to use in the next round of planning.

3. Involve everyone in your organisation

An important part of the process was involving colleagues in our thinking, and asking for feedback so that the final vision reflected their ideas and could be supported by everyone. To do this, we used a variety of types of online dialogue and asynchronous collaboration, from virtual ‘all-staff’ meetings to surveys employing appreciative enquiry, giving everyone the chance to get involved. 

4. Define your driving beliefs

This collaborative and iterative process led us to define the elements we believe will underpin and drive our hybrid working culture. These are: safety, engagement, trust, flexibility and diversity and inclusion.

Driving beliefs for hybrid working culture: safety, engagement, trust, flexibility, diversity & inclusion
Title:
Driving beliefs for hybrid working culture
Date:
2021
Institution:
Europeana Foundation
Country:
Netherlands
Driving beliefs for hybrid working culture: safety, engagement, trust, flexibility, diversity & inclusion

5. Articulate your vision

Next, we translated these beliefs into a vision for a hybrid working culture to suit the Europeana Foundation. 

We envisage a hybrid working culture where we learn and develop together. A culture that is based on trust and autonomy. Where personal achievement and organisational effectiveness come from balance and flexibility. Where we value time with our colleagues, in person and online, and where practical solutions are in place to support better ways of working. 

What’s next?

To put this vision into practice, we now need to make some changes - from updating our policies and rethinking our practices to reconfiguring our office so that when we do need to be together - to meet, work and collaborate - we have a space that works effectively. Of course, we will learn as we go, and develop and adapt when necessary. Our emphasis is on creating a flexible and safe environment - whether that’s in the office, at home or wherever else a staff member decides they’d like to work. We want our employees to know they are trusted and able to make their own choices, based on their own needs, as well as those of their team and the wider organisation. 

Find out more about how the Europeana Foundation has been working during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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