Maintaining a strong team culture during hybrid working

Posted: 29th June 2022

Hybrid working has atomised our workforce — how do we maintain a strong, cohesive culture among disparate teams?

Brian Chesky, the CEO of Airbnb, once said: “Culture is simply a shared way of doing something with a passion.”

Airbnb recently announced that its employees can now live and work anywhere in the world. It’s a bold move, to say the least. 

Chesky clearly believes Airbnb’s culture can be maintained while the team are potentially spread around the globe. 

However, company culture undoubtedly risks being watered-down by remote and hybrid working. After all, culture has traditionally been established by a group of people who share the same values acting in the same way in the same space. 

So, how do organisations maintain a cohesive culture while dealing with an increasingly fragmented workforce? How do we make sure people continue to share the same way of doing something with a passion? 

Here are a few ways we’ve kept our team culture strong since hybrid working became the norm.  

Consciously create coffee chat time

Remember all those times you bumped into a colleague while making coffee and had a quick 10-minute catch-up? Well, those incidental moments are gone.

Now you have to make a concerted effort to have those conversations. Is there someone you haven’t spoken to in a while? Schedule a catch-up chat online with them. It doesn’t have to belong, 15 minutes is enough to check in with each other and keep morale high. 

This could even be formalised into a weekly event for everyone in the office. Why not set up a weekly meeting online for people to chat over their morning coffee. No talking shop, just light fun conversation. 

Call instead of text

We all love WhatsApp, Slack and email for getting info fast and messaging multiple people at once. 

However, we all know how cold and blunt text feels. We respond differently if our friends call and ask us how we are than if they just text us. 

So if you’ve got time and you know you’re not interrupting your colleague, give them a call to discuss that work thing. Five minutes on the phone could brighten both your days and make them feel supported as part of the team. 

Master the quarterly get-together

Besides being heaps of fun, quarterly get-togethers are a fantastic opportunity to strengthen your team spirit. 

Whether you test your team-building skills at a local escape room, play a few games of bowling or simply enjoy a meal together, regular meet-ups bring everyone together in a relaxed setting.

A fun meet-up lets people catch up with colleagues they’ve not seen for a while and reminds everyone that real people are behind the emails and messages they receive at work.

Stick stubbornly to rituals

Traditionally, company cultures developed through people acting out certain behaviours and office rituals together in the same place every day. 

Take time to decide which rituals you’re keeping and which you’re happy to lose. And remember, they don’t have to be the same ones you drifted into lockdown with. You can change them if you want. 

Asking someone to dress in a suit when they’re working from home would be preposterous, but finding out that someone took a client meeting in their pyjamas would be equally absurd. 

So get clear on your rituals then stick to them stubbornly. 

And although daily activities can now be performed from afar, there are still many rituals that should bring people together. 

For example, if it’s a tradition that the team celebrate each other’s birthdays together you might want to make sure this ritual continues. Don’t resort to an online celebration simply because it’s the path of least resistance. Make the effort. Get everyone together and celebrate as you would have in 2019.

“Determine what behaviours and beliefs you value as a company, and have everyone live true to them. These behaviours and beliefs should be so essential to your core, that you don’t even think of it as culture.”

— Brittany Forsyth, VP of Human Relations, Shopify

Ask for feedback 

When it comes to company culture communication is key. And feedback is the easiest way to find out how to improve the culture. 

Ask people who have been at your organisation a while what they miss about the company culture before hybrid working was introduced. What would bring that feeling back for them? 

Speak to new starters too. Ask for their first impressions of the company’s culture. Do they align with the culture you’re trying to create? Is there an element of the culture from their old organisation that they miss? 

Feedback is only valuable if it’s honest. So if you haven’t yet created a candid culture in your company you might want to ask for feedback on an anonymous survey. 

“Our secret weapon for building the best culture is open and honest feedback.”

– Gina Lau, Team Operations, HelloSign

The best of both worlds

A strong company culture unites people, but if people never unite can a culture really exist? 

Technology is giving people greater freedom in their careers, enabling businesses to access talent from further afield, and cutting carbon emissions by reducing unnecessary daily commutes. And for that, it should be praised. 

But a balance must be struck. If there’s one thing we all learned during lockdown it’s the importance of human connection. We mustn’t forget that.  

“The right solution should combine the best of the digital world and the best of the physical world,” Chesky said in his email to Airbnb employees announcing their new working freedom. “It should have the efficiency of Zoom, while providing the meaningful human connection that only happens when people come together.”

Amen to that. 

Want to join us? 

Blacktip Consultancy prides itself on its diverse culture of excellence. And we’re growing fast. So if you like the sound of working at an ambitious company that values your well-being and work-life balance, get in touch.


Mental Health Matters: Constructing the right culture for mental wellbeing in the workplace

Posted: 12th January 2022

Construction is one of the few industries that hasn’t paused throughout the pandemic. And, while mental health has always been important, most of us have realised just how vital it is over the last year.

As we’ve returned to something that resembles the pre-pandemic way of life, we’ve quickly been reminded that it was never really that normal at all. In fact, it was a hotbed for anxiety, burnout and depression.

Mental illness affects our ability to think clearly, it makes us emotionally volatile, robs us of the willpower to complete tasks, stops us from performing at our best and lowers our experience and quality of life. At its most extreme it can lead to suicide.

At Blacktip, we do everything we can to look after our team’s mental wellbeing. Just we would never dream of having people work in an environment that puts their physical health at risk, the same is true of their mental health. 

However, mental illness still carries a stigma that makes people reluctant to talk openly for fear of discrimination, job loss or missed opportunities. That’s building the right culture is essential to wellbeing.

The £2.4 billion cost of mental illness

Many well-meaning business owners still perceive prioritising mental health as an expense. A necessary one, but still an expense. Few realise that it’s also good for business.

According to the Mental Health Foundation, mental health is the leading cause of sickness absence. A staggering 70 million workdays are lost each year due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year.

And it’s not just absence. People who turn up to work with a mental illness will likely underperform, adding further cost to their employers.

So it makes economic sense to look after the mental health of your employees. Healthy people do not come at the expense of healthy profit margins.

A mental health issue isn’t the same as a bad day at the office

We’ve all had to drag ourselves into work when we’re simply not in the mood. And we’ve all had bad days at the office. But there’s a big difference between those feelings and a mental health issue.

Anyone who has suffered through a depressive episode, an anxiety attack or burnout — even on a minor level — knows there’s a clear difference between those feelings and a bad day at the office.

Pressuring people to push through those sorts of things will do more harm than good. What people need at that moment is rest. In fact, the spiritual teacher Jeff Foster notes:

“The word ‘depressed is spoken phonetically as ‘deep rest’. There is no shame in depression. It is an ancient invitation to rest.”

Trust that your team know the difference between an off day and a mental health issue. And if you see someone who looks on the brink of burnout, anxious or overwhelmed, don’t be afraid to ask if they’re ok.

Leaders must share first

The Mental Health Foundation also discovered that 38% of Britons fear revealing a mental health problem at work would jeopardise their career.

This study highlights the need to make open and honest conversation part of the company culture.

There’s a conundrum here because people aren’t going to speak up until they feel safe to do so. But they won’t feel safe until there is a culture of open and honest conversation.

This is why it’s essential that people in leadership roles speak first. If leaders make mental health part of the conversation at work, they demonstrate to everyone else that it’s safe to speak. And that’s how to change the culture.

Some quick wins for mental wellbeing at work:

Books the size of small villages could be written about mental wellbeing in the workplace. We’ll leave that to the experts. But here are a few quick wins for less stress and better mental health.

Go for a walk

Exercise is one of the best antidotes to stress. However, you don’t have to run a marathon or lift weights until your nose bleeds to feel the mental benefit of exercising. You simply have to move. A 15 minute walk will clear your mind, get your blood moving and lift your mood.

Take your eyes off the screen

We can easily spend our entire day looking at a screen. Even on our lunch break, our eyes switch effortlessly from our computer screen to our phone screen. Make a conscious effort to step back and take time away from the screen. Your mind will thank you for the rest. 


Meditation is one of the best ways to reduce stress and anxiety. And it doesn’t have to be complicated. If you’ve tried meditating in the past and found it too difficult, try putting a timer on your phone for ten minutes, closing your eyes and counting your breaths. This is a great way to de-stress during your lunch break (especially if you’re working from home).

Talk to people

Humans are social creatures, we’re wired for social interaction. That means you too, introverts! If you’re feeling stressed or depressed make an effort to talk to someone. You don’t have to talk about the thing that’s bothering you if you don’t want to. Just shoot the breeze for a few minutes about the weather or whatever comes to mind. You’re almost guaranteed to feel better for it. 

Change the way you breathe

The way you breathe can have a profound impact on your mood and stress levels. In this cool one minute video Andrew Huberman, a neuroscientist at Stanford University,  shares a surprisingly simple breathing technique that dramatically reduces stress and anxiety. 


Work-life balance in a post-pandemic world

Posted: 12th January 2022

Last year, the Portuguese government introduced a new law making it illegal for companies to contact staff outside their contracted working hours. Businesses that break the law could be fined.

The new measure was part of a range of labour laws designed to regulate home-working and re-conceptualise work-life balance in a post-COVID world.

It’s not just Portugal, of course. The pandemic put the entire world on pause and opened a space for people to reflect and re-assess how we want our lives to look.

Our work-life balance has been heavily skewed in the favour of work for so long that deeply unhealthy ideas have been embedded into our culture.

Stress and overwhelm dominate our society. And thoughts about work creep into our fatigued minds during our precious little free time.

At Blacktip, we want our people to have rewarding careers and enough free time and mental health to enjoy a fulfilling life.

Let’s take a fresh look at what a work-life means in the era of remote working.

Three elements of a good work-life balance

According to the Mental Health Foundation, three things make up a healthy work-life balance:

  • Meeting your deadlines at work while still having time for friends and hobbies
  • Having enough time to sleep properly and eat well
  • Not worrying about work when you’re at home

Sounds simple enough. But, in our world of hectic schedules and the endless temptation to have one final glance at your emails before bed, it’s easier said than done.

When you’re surrounded by people who are just as tired, rushed and consumed by the office as you are, you soon slip into thinking it’s the norm. Before you know it, your entire organisation can be corrupted with bad habits.

Signs your work-life balance is out of whack

Here are some indicators that you might have a poor work-life balance:

  • You’re always tired — Too much stress lowers the immune system making you more prone to fatigue and sickness.
  • You work infinite overtime — We all have to pull a long day every now and then, but if you’re stuck in never-ending overtime you’re probably out of balance.
  • You bring your work home with you — Remote working has made this even more common now that people’s work is already at home with them.
  • Your relationships are suffering — Does your partner complain about how much you work? Do you have a sneaking suspicion they’re right?
  • You’ve got a temper — Stress makes us snappy. If you’re losing your patience more than usual, it could be a sign that things need to change.
  • Your home is a mess — Is your house full of clothes waiting to be washed, dirty dishes and a mound of general clutter?
  • Your mind is always at work — Sure, you might have left the office at 5pm, but if you’re thinking about work until 10pm… that’s not free time.
  • You don’t take you holiday — When did you last take a day off? If you can’t remember, that’s too long ago!

The vital need for rest

The science of sleep is fascinating and, if you’re underslept, terrifying. The vital importance of rest is best illustrated when we change the clocks twice a year.

Every year on the Monday after we turn the clocks forward in spring, US hospitals report a 24% spike in heart-attack visits around the US. There are also more car accidents, more injuries at work and lower SAT scores.

Sleep effects almost everything’ our growth and stress hormones, our immune system, appetite, breathing and, of course, our quality of life.

Making sure our people are well-rested is essential to supporting work-life balance. And it’s worth pointing out that the two are inseparable and feed into one another. People work better if they have a good night’s sleep.

One of the most insidious ideas in our culture is that more free time would result in less productivity. But that’s a false assumption. The German economy is successful despite six weeks of annual leave being commonplace.

The culture has to change

The “hustle culture” promotes the idea that if you’re not grinding away 24/7-365 you’re not worthy of success. This is mentality is dangerous and borderline insane.

Businesses need to create cultures that encourage people to take their holidays, get some rest and speak up if the workload is too much.

Many people will feel like their chances of promotion might be affected if they take their annual leave. They might worry that leaving work on time will come back to haunt them at a performance review. We must make it abundantly clear that this isn’t the case.

While we may not need to go as far as the Portuguese government, business everywhere must make a concerted effort to foster a healthy work-life balance for their people.

Want to work for a company that helps you have a healthy work-life balance?

Blacktip Consultancy are always on the look out for talented people who want to change the way infrastructure is delivered. So, if you want to work for a company with a culture that respects you, supports your mental and physical wellbeing and helps you grow, get in touch!