Katie Burke has served as HubSpot’s Chief People Officer since January 2017, overseeing recruitment, people operations, culture, and employee experience. As HubSpot has not only scaled its business dramatically, but also shifted to prioritize hybrid work, Burke has worked to ensure that the company's core culture and people strategy is a competitive advantage as the company continues to grow globally. 

Pre-pandemic, HubSpot offered remote work opportunities in a more ad-hoc way, varying from team to team. “Flexibility has been infused into how we work at HubSpot since the company was started, but it’s shifted into a new gear in the last two years,” says Burke. “The pandemic accelerated our decision to clearly define work preferences, which allowed us to create a clear menu of options and be incredibly transparent with employees and candidates about what flexibility is available to them.” 

With a global workforce of thousands of workers, striking an effective hybrid work balance required some experimentation. Here are the key takeaways from Katie's insights about building a hybrid-friendly culture that empowers successful remote and hybrid teams:

Frequent and transparent communication is key for hybrid collaboration.

For the team at HubSpot, frequent and open communication across all team relationships-- between remote workers and their managers, their team members, and company leadership -- has helped scale its hybrid work offerings.

HubSpot has found that small details add up. “A critical piece of this is to ensure managers have the tools and resources to effectively lead a hybrid team,” says Burke. Successful remote and hybrid teams use shared internal documentation, and have highly organized hybrid meeting processes. A combination of written meeting agendas, meeting facilitators to ensure remote team members are included, meeting recordings for later viewing, and regular team and 1:1 check-ins ensure everyone is on the same page.

And HubSpot is proactive about solving known hybrid work pain points. “We’ve developed a hybrid work series for our Manager+ community that includes trainings and workshops dedicated to helping them understand how to handle a range of issues - from proximity bias to asynchronous communication,” says Burke.

Remote and flexible work is a competitive differentiator when it comes to employee recruiting and retention.

For companies that want to attract and retain the best talent to help achieve their goals, expanding remote work offerings can help. For example, HubSpot is able to attract talent from different markets and retain talent who decide to move to a different part of the world. “Our commitment to hybrid means that people won’t feel their success or access to careers in tech is tied to their zip code,” says Burke. According to the Owl Labs 2021 State of Remote Work report, 70% of workers want a remote or hybrid working style. With many workers moving outside of metropolitan areas during the pandemic, offering remote work is a great way to retain and attract top talent. 

“Creating that level of opportunity is absolutely good for our culture, but it’s also good for expanding access to jobs in tech outside of major cities,” says Burke. This has become even more true post-pandemic, as the option for hybrid work has increasingly become a baseline expectation for employees, and a competitive differentiator for employers.

Inclusivity and empathy from in-office teams help hybrid teams and remote members thrive.

Still, just providing the option for hybrid work is not enough to create a positive and productive hybrid working experience. Intentional support and leadership is required to make remote work successful where it is possible. 

“In order to deliver on a great hybrid strategy, empathy is the key ingredient,” says Burke. “Our goal at HubSpot is to provide high-level guardrails as a company on hybrid inclusion and still provide a lot of autonomy to leaders to do what works for their teams.”

Hybrid Interview - Pull Quote (1)

For employees, a willingness to provide constructive feedback and to over-communicate what they're working on will help them improve hybrid team communication and help them achieve their career goals with better support.

Hybrid communication is a two-way street. Great hybrid work requires flexibility, creativity, and the understanding that processes might need to change over time. “I think the key is helping provide clarity on what you’re trying to solve for and iterating on feedback as you go,” says Burke. To stay successful, HubSpot continues to evolve its hybrid work strategy. “We used to be flexible about how and when employees worked, and now where is a big part of that equation, too,” says Burke.

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