The St. Regis hotel brand has rituals in every corner of its properties. The Bloody Mary cocktail, for example, was said to have been invented in the bar of the St. Regis hotel in New York. Today, every St. Regis hotel in the world offers its version of this iconic drink. Their hotel in Dubai serves 'The Golden Mary' created with yellow tomatoes and gold leaf. At six o'clock each evening in each hotel, a bartender sabres a bottle of champagne. It can get messy, but it's pure theatre.
The Importance of Workplace Rituals
In early 2020, many St. Regis hotels closed their doors, and these rituals took a hiatus. The brand faced a dilemma: how do they keep these touchstones alive and well for when the guests would inevitably return?
Every team, large or small, has unique practices that define who they are. Rituals were just one area of working life disrupted when Coronavirus took hold. These rituals look like; A weekly recognition event, Thursday drinks, casual Fridays, ringing a bell to celebrate a success or a sale, decorating the desk of someone new to the team or about to leave, all have their place. Another example comes from Google. Their organisation offers a series of training called 'Learning on the Loo.' The trainings are on the inside of the toilet doors each Monday for their employees to read.
Rituals for Hybrid Working
Rituals have always been important in the physical workplace, and in remote or hybrid teams, they become even more essential. When a video call ends, remote employees return to their routine and work in their own distinctive ways. This is great for many reasons like creativity, efficiency, and work-life balance to name a few. However, this shift in work rituals can risk diluting company culture, fracturing team dynamics and bonds.
How to Reimagine Rituals
Reimagining rituals in the hybrid workplace begins with consistency –– it's essential. Think about how these rituals are observed. How are you or your team members performing these rituals? Why are these rituals important? And, which rituals can be left as they are?
Implementing Work Rituals for Hybrid Teams
If your workplace has set days at work, then some rituals which benefit from in-person collaboration could be moved to a day where most – if not all – people are in the office. Some rituals might be able to 'run in the background' and have the same impact regardless of where people work. For example, Google's 'Learning on the Loo' will be there all week, every week. Even if you use the office toilet only once a week, you have experienced that ritual!
Toilet talk aside, some rituals will need to be reimagined, but the good news is that video conferencing apps have come along so far in the last few years. Zoom offers a bell plug-in that participants can virtually ring. Teams that value office games can play 'Pong' on Google Meet. Apps like Kahoot! can bring meetings to life. An event can be easily taken online but try to keep it to the same time and day of the week to ensure consistency.
Rituals Reinforce Organisational Values
All this said, never 'rest on your laurels,' and assume all this reimagining is working. Check in with your team to see what might need to be tweaked. Have team members take the lead in running these rituals and encourage them to make amendments as they see fit.
During lockdown, the St. Regis hotel took their iconic Bloody Marys online. They offered Instagram mixology classes so guests could make their own at home (I didn't see any 'DIY' videos of champagne sabre-ing… it was probably for the best).
Nevertheless, these actions kept the brand strong. When reimagining workplace rituals –– whether in-office, hybrid or remote –– make them easily attainable and feed them into your organisational culture and values.