THE DEEP DIVE: Navigating Remote and Hybrid Work with Aga and Shani

Shani and Aga

Welcome to our monthly rendezvous where I, Aga Bajer, along with my fellow culture enthusiast and Wonder co-founder, Shani Persson, delve into topics critical to cultivating thriving cultures at scale. Our aim is to share practical insights, empower you to make better decisions and help you achieve remarkable success in your culture work.

Today’s episode shines the spotlight on the subject of Remote and Hybrid Work—a topic that has already garnered its fair share of attention – and one that still seems to elude us.

Despite the tremendous success of many companies operating in a nearly fully remote setup during the pandemic, we are now experiencing a shift, with mandates urging employees to return to the office, be it on a full-time or part-time basis.

This begs us to probe deeper, to uncover the roots of this fixation on physical work locations. What drives this obsession? And more importantly, where is the evidence-based foundation for claims that innovation flourishes through in-person collaboration or that productivity soars within the confines of the office?

Shani and I feel it’s essential to question these assumptions and seek solutions that work.

So tune in to hear my discussion with Shani that revolves around how we can navigate this brave new world of remote and hybrid work and support teams to perform at their full potential.

Episode highlights

  • Refocusing on what matters most: Shifting our attention from labels and where work takes place to understand what constitutes a great work environment for your teams.
  • Ego aside, outcomes first: Leaving personal preferences behind and prioritizing the desired outcomes in order to find better solutions for hybrid work.
  • Cultivating curiosity as a leader: Working with leadership teams to foster curiosity and active listening, rather than simply issuing mandates.
  • The sandwich approach to employee experience: Exploring how to designing a positive employee experience in the hybrid work environment.
  • Building intentional culture: Uncovering the foundation of intentional culture building through asking critical questions about purpose, understanding needs, and aligning goals.
  • Beyond location: Empowering employees to achieve great work, emphasizing that success is not (solely) dependent on where the work is done.
  • The pitfalls of hybrid: Delving into the challenges of hybrid work and why it can feel like the worst of both in-office and fully remote environments.
  • Leveraging the power of flexibility: Discovering the benefits of flexibility and how it can enhance productivity and well-being.
  • Nurturing innovation and creativity: Recognizing that innovation is not reliant on serendipitous interactions but on a deliberate and iterative process.
  • Trust: Understanding how trust and distrust shape relationships in a hybrid work environment and how treating others impacts the way we are treated.
  • Cultivating a culture of collaboration: How to foster a culture that thrives on collaboration and teamwork.
  • Accountability drives performance: Exploring the correlation between holding agreements and driving effective collaboration and performance.
  • Competency mapping in remote settings: Overcoming the challenges of rolling out competency mapping in remote work environments.
  • Solving problems at the root: Recognizing that the best solutions come from understanding the needs of our people, going beyond the CEO’s perspective, and empowering employees to do their best work.

Listen to the interview in the player below or on iTunes. If you like what you hear, please leave a review, and it may be featured on a future episode.

More about Shani Persson

Shani is one of the founders of an experience design lab, Wonder. It’s a company aimed to inspire and support companies, institutions, groups or individuals to help themselves and others thrive through more human experiences. She spent more than 10 years in corporate people functions – driving change, and building culture and experiences for co-workers.

A nerd for anything human development, learning, leadership, culture and experiences that enhance our wellbeing and contribution. Loves exploring – cold plunges, meditation and biohacking included – to learn how we can lead fulfilled lives with healthy minds and bodies, and of course – designing impactful human experiences.

More about Aga Bajer

Aga is the founder and CEO of CultureBrained® – a boutique consultancy on a mission to empower purpose-driven leaders to make work synonymous with fun, meaning and belonging. Aga is passionate about cultivating thriving cultures where people do their best work and solve wicked problems. Before establishing CultureBrained®, Aga led consulting teams in companies like Hay Group, Korn Ferry, and PwC.

In the past 20+ years, Aga helped hundreds of clients to attract, hire, develop and retain A+ talent, accelerate personal and business growth, drive impact and create legendary cultures that scale.

People mentioned in this episode

Tom Chi

Henry Ford

Additional resources

CultureBrained® Community – a one-of-a-kind virtual community for Heads of Culture, founders, and leaders who want to up their culture game.

The Culture Playbook Guide.

Discover Your Personal Values.


Readme or user manual guides

Future-Proof Your Hybrid Culture with Bretton Putter

Aga is the founder and host of a one-of-a-kind, global community for Culture Leaders, the CultureBrained Community, where members connect with outstanding peers to discover new ways of cultivating thriving cultures at scale in the brave new world of remote and hybrid work. She is the author of Building and Sustaining a Coaching Culture and the creator and host of one of the most popular podcasts on culture, the CultureLab.

Aga has worked with senior leadership teams of many major organizations, startups, and scaleups. Her client portfolio includes Microsoft, AWS, Nordea, ANZ, Ideo, Toyota, Porsche, Hilton Hotels and Resorts, Citibank, GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Leo Pharma, Hellenic Bank, Eurolife, Bank of Cyprus, Eurobank, Wargaming, Sanofi, Amdocs, SAP, and many others.

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