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Staying on the same page: Creating a transparent culture in a hybrid working environment

Transparency is a powerful force for strengthening employee relationships, encouraging innovation, and increasing bottom-line results. 

To successfully cultivate a culture of transparency, businesses need an environment where information can flow freely between people.

This is always easier said than done in the daily grind of business, even when people work in the same office, but it became even more difficult as the pandemic unfolded and people began working remotely. 

How do businesses sustain a culture of transparency when people are working in different places, at different times? 

At Envato, we decided to do this in three key ways:

  • Giving staff access to the tools and information they need to succeed in their roles, no matter where they work.
  • Keeping the workforce up to date on what’s going on in the business.
  • Inviting input from employees to help guide decisions. 

Empowering people with access to the right tools and information

In this new era of work, making your resources resourceful requires a reimagination of how your people connect, communicate, and collaborate. Closed-door email threads and meetings, for example, only lead to fragmented workplaces where information isn’t readily accessible to those who need it. This is especially difficult for people who may not have been part of previous conversations, resulting in mixed understandings of projects, priorities, and goals. 

Forward-thinking organisations counteracted these challenges by building a Digital HQ, which has played a vital role in creating a transparent workplace, boosting productivity, and nurturing strong relationships. 

Collaboration platforms like Slack continue to play a fundamental role in the success of our hybrid work model. Slack is our messaging app for business, allowing us to organise conversations into channels, so everyone moves faster and stays in sync, no matter where and when they work.

One way this has helped is by keeping our teams aligned on different projects, priorities, and goals by bringing together people, information, documents and more into a commonplace. 

As we’re a Google Suite business, having direct integrations with Slack means we can create new files, get alerts when people share, comment, or edit files, and reply to comments — all without leaving Slack. 

The platform has also allowed us to create environments to foster connections and build camaraderie, including setting up open Slack channels for light-hearted conversations and specific channels for shared interests. 

Our Hype channel has become a focal point for celebrating our staff benefits and sharing real-world experiences while working remotely. 

Transparency from the top down to build trust from the bottom up

How leadership teams communicate information sets the tone for the rest of the organisation, which significantly impacts culture. One of the best ways to build trust in your business is to continuously share your wins, losses, challenges, goals, and priorities. 

When employees see how open and communicative leadership teams are with them, they’ll also feel empowered to share — whether it’s their ideas, feedback, challenges, or other insights.

That’s why we established regular forums for staff to ask senior leaders questions. This has included a regular ‘Ask Us Anything’ event utilising Slack’s Q&A features, where all staff can connect directly with our executive team on everything, from staff benefits to company strategy. 

While there are plenty of niche channels catering to specific needs and goals, having a handful of company-wide meeting points has ensured we retain a strong vibe across the business.

Encouraging people to share their voices openly 

Companies thrive when their workforce trusts that they can comfortably bring forward new ideas and feedback. After all, if you want employees to buy into the company vision, stay committed to the mission, and deliver their best work every day, you have to make them a part of shaping the future of the business.

That’s what today’s employees expect. They want direct access to senior leadership and to be involved in the decision-making process — from the technology they use to the processes they follow to when and where they work. 

At Envato, we want employees at all levels to feel that their perspectives are valued and vital to business decisions. Our dedicated spaces for people to raise issues, ask questions, and provide feedback directly to our executive leadership — whether that’s through the Q&A feature on Slack or via a Culture Amp employee survey — ensures all voices reach the highest levels of the company and make a real impact on the future direction of the business. 

As businesses formalise their shift to a hybrid workplace, trust and transparency must be at the heart of company culture. These attributes will help us create environments that allow our people to enjoy what they love most about remote work (like its flexibility) while overcoming the challenges of working in different places (like feeling less connected). 

The last two years have shown how powerful having a Digital HQ has been in creating a transparent culture and elevating employee engagement.

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Matt Hough

Matt Hough

As Chief People Officer for Envato, Matt is responsible for setting a future-focused people agenda that supports, engages and inspires Envato’s globally-dispersed workforce. Prior to joining Envato, Matt held leadership roles with General Motors, Holden, the Cotton On Group and other iconic household names. His passion for building inclusive cultures extends beyond the workplace to his volunteer work in a number of LGBT+ organisations. Matt works from home in the Sunshine Coast Hinterland with his husband and their lively beagle.

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