The Best Swag Ideas for Hybrid Teams

08.30.2022 | trends, Product Ideas, Welcome, Promotional Products, Author: Shannon Brennan, work

The ideal work environment will likely always be a topic of debate.

While remote work has historically received strong support for its increased flexibility, employer cost savings, and potential for a better employee work-life balance, some corporate leaders hold fast to the notion that employees are at their best and most productive at the office. Organizations supporting this perspective typically argue that developmental and interpersonal opportunities happen in the office -- and that working remotely stifles collaboration. 

Although the debate over where work should take place is unlikely to be settled anytime soon, some companies are turning to hybrid work as a compromise between the office and the home. Hybrid working is not a new concept, but it can be a confusing one (for a great primer, check out this comprehensive post from Hive). That's because it's less a style of work, and more an amalgamation of work schedules that attempt to strike a balance between purely remote or in-office workspaces.

Hybrid Work

Two Hybrid Employees Meeting in an Office Space

For some companies, hybrid work is super-flexible: employees can work from home, or visit a shared workspace as their schedule permits.. For others, hybrid work schedules ensure that folks are in the office most of the week, with 1-3 days to work in another location. For still others, hybrid work means working from the office, with the flexibility to take a day from home here and there. Hybrid work is often an attractive option for more traditional or established companies, as well as those that just aren't ready to hand over the keys to their physical space or cede all control over where work happens to their employees. 

Regardless of how an organization chooses to structure its work expectations, all successful work environments rely on healthy collaboration and teamwork to support business goals - neither of which happens overnight, or on their own.  Instead, effective people leaders work extensively with HR and Culture teams to foster an environment of trust, inclusivity, and constant progression. So, while a physical workspace might serve the purpose of getting your crew in the same room, unifying a team and helping them connect organically is ultimately the responsibility of organizational leadership.  

The Meetings Conundrum

Hybrid Teams Collaborating

Being in the office means that meetings will happen face-to-face.  But if you're a hybrid work that's dialing in from your home office, do the same rules apply?

According to Neil Stanton, Co-CEO at Ramp, they do. Stanton suggests that successful hybrid workforce leaders embrace technology's ability to bring people together -- and that means leverage virtual meetings and calls whenever possible. His advice? Make sure every participant is involved and engaged - which may mean 'maintaining 'cameras on' during some meetings to help "team members maintain and engage with each other". 

If this suggestion prompts feelings of protest, you're not alone.

Hybrid-Curious or Remote-Curious? Flexibility is Key

Man working from Home on Hybrid Work Schedule

While Stanton's Forbes piece was published in August 2022, his "cameras-on" advocacy seems dated, although it isn't necessarily news: guardrails like mandating that employees stay on-screen reflect the more conventional attitudes - and desire for order - of companies who are still struggling to strike a balance in the post-Covid world. However, recent studies, like this one, from SHRM, stress flexibility - not rigidity - as the key to successful virtual meetings. SHRM's 2021 reporting actually included research from academic and industry experts which indicates that consistent on-camera interaction results in higher reported levels of fatigue due to factors like performance anxiety, and decreased pauses (aka the "bio break").

The TL;DR?

  • Meetings are unavoidable

  • Meetings that make employees feel anxious or exhausted are ineffective

  • Successful meetings are relevant, organized (read: over in a timely manner), and respect the attendees' individual working styles. 

We'd argue that these takeaways are a good primer for considering any work environment! 

While it's safe to say that the debate over where work should take place isn't going to be settled anytime soon, there are a few sure-fire steps that companies can take to help their employees work better, together (even if they aren't in the same place)!

Read along to learn some of our favorite collaboration practices and discover new custom product ideas for your folks who strike a balance between that #WFHlife and the occasional commute to the office!

employee collaboration tips We Love

A person with long hair checking messages from a hybrid teammate

1. get social

Whether you opt for Slack or Teams to connect multiple offices, or you're a small enough group to still gather at the water cooler, creating space for non-work conversation is a surefire way to help your team connect. Some offices create designated conversation spaces, while others set aside a weekly social hour to help encourage casual conversation that doesn't necessarily center around work. 

Encouraging camaraderie is also a great way to help new employees feel more at home, Whether your new hires join their teams in classes, or folks are folded in one by one, having a familiar face to bounce questions off of or grab lunch makes it easier to acclimate to a new environment. We love the idea of pairing newbies up with onboarding buddies for this purpose!

Why social opportunities matter: Getting social encourages your entire team to get together and share what matters to them in a relaxed setting where typical hierarchies don't apply. For new hires, casual opportunities to connect enable them to meet team members that they might not work with directly. 




2. Encourage productive meetings

Have you ever had a thought on the tip of your tongue, but never found the right time to share it? Or tried to speak up, but were overruled? Great ideas can come from anywhere, and anyone, but it's all too easy for scenarios like these to play out in a group setting, like team or org meetings. Here are a few tips for facilitating productive meetings:

Lead by example: If you're holding a meeting where it's important for everyone to be on-camera, say so. Communicate meeting expectations and etiquette in the meeting invitation and at the outset of the meeting itself, and turn on your own camera (even if you're presenting!) to set the tone for others. 

Keep meetings focused and on point: To ensure that everyone has a chance to speak, keep meetings focused and on point. If there are multiple talking points on the agenda, be sure to pause and ask for feedback or questions before moving on.

Remember: not everyone likes to contribute publicly. For every vocal team member, you're likely to have two more that prefer to share their thoughts privately. Your team is much more likely to share their feedback when they feel comfortable, so why not honor different communication styles? This can be as simple as offering multiple ways to contribute feedback, like a project-relevant Slack channel, or simply offering time to discuss certain topics 1:1. 

Why do productive meetings matter? Tight, focused meetings are a chance to accomplish a set agenda, assign next steps, or make decisions as a team. Using the allotted time efficiently communicates that you understand that everyone's time is valuable. 


Hybrid employees celebrating a win while in the office


3. Celebrate small wins

This one should be easy--after all, your hybrid employees have a lot to be proud of. Launching special projects, navigating the challenges of working in different locations, celebrating a birthday, National Ice Cream Day...the list is endless. The bottom line is that there's always a reason to recognize your hybrid team members. And doing so doesn't have to be time or labor-intensive! Here are some of our favorite ways to build engagement with hybrid teams!

  • Milestone events: Take a page from Dean Stanton's book and leverage tech to keep celebrations inclusive and interactive! We love the idea of dedicating a Slack or Teams channel to birthdays and anniversaries. For even more fun, consider adding a recognition and awards app like Bonusly to your integrations to encourage your team to share in each others' accomplishments or give praise by dedicating a Slack channel where any employee can recognize another. Feeling a little more traditional?

  • Employee recognition: for hybrid teams, a recognition and awards app like Bonusly makes it simple for employees to encourage and celebrate each other's wins in real-time.  Quickly share praise (and Bonusly Bucks!) that can be exchanged for gift cards or donations to charity. Many recognition and awards apps integrate easily with your internal messaging systems, making it a snap to encourage camaraderie and collaboration. Another great idea is to host Employee of the 

  • Awards: Why not take your recognition program one step further with awards for performance or milestones? Some programs could be as simple as soliciting nominations for Employee of the Week and awarding small prizes, like brand company swag or custom apparel, to each winner. 

Why celebrate? Why not? But seriously - recognizing another employee's good work or special occasion helps them feel seen, which can increase feelings of belonging and connection. No one wins alone -- the best teams win, and celebrate, together. 

Custom Swag Box animation


4. Gift Custom Company Swag

You may have guessed that custom company swag would end up on our list. Yes, we're biased😏, but to be fair, we've been building custom swag programs for companies of all sizes for over 27 years! We've learned a lot, and created so many amazing custom products, including corporate swag.

One of our biggest takeaways? Personalization matters. It helps people feel included, connected, and part of the team. The nature of hybrid working styles can make feeling settled a challenge, and gifting thoughtful, branded custom products can help communicate to your hybrid employees that they're important and that they belong.  

Swag is the ultimate collaboration tool: It's fun, creates a sense of unity and belonging, and is an instant conversation starter. Make sure that the company swag you choose is gifted authentically, as part of a holistic culture initiative. If you just slap your logo on a few cheap items and hand them out to your hybrid employees, you're likely to miss the mark.

Our advice? Find opportunities to use swag that encourage or celebrate collaboration!s! Custom company swag is a great way to recognize wins of every size, celebrate milestones, or announce employee anniversaries. You could even coordinate games for your next social hour and award swag gifts to the winning players!


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the best travel swag ideas FOR hybrid TEAMS

We're rounding out our hybrid work tips with a selection of company swag items that help ease the transition between remote and office workspaces. Scroll along for branded swag ideas that your hybrid team members will reach for on the daily! 

🔎Searching for back-to-the-office swag? Click here!

unique apparel options

The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Knit Hat


The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Pullover


The Best Swag Ideas for Hybrid Teams - Laptop Backpack Small


Custom apparel is THE corporate swag MVP. From broken-in dad caps to comfy pullovers, custom tees, and backpacks, it's hard to match the convenience of apparel when considering ways to recognize and reward your team (and amplify your brand)! Our team loves wearing their Strän apparel for virtual calls, but they're just as convenient for showing your team spirit while out and about -- and make a great swag gift for corporate events. 

➡️ More custom corporate apparel MVPs, this way!


custom desk accessories

The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Desk Plant


The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Notebook



The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Desk Calendar


Whether your hybrid team members are dialing in from home or gathering in the office, helpful touches and tools like a small desk plant, branded notebook, or handy dry-erase board will help them settle in and customize their space. For a special touch, write a quick note on the on the erasable board, or personalize the front page of the journal or the plant's tag with a little welcome note!

💡More tips for welcoming employees!


The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Phone Holder. png


The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Desk Air Purifier


The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Earbud Cleaning Kit


It's no secret that we love tech swag. Customize a handy travel phone stand to keep your team safe and hands-free when commuting to and from the office. A USB air purifier and an ultra-portable (and adorable) earbud cleaning kit help your hybrid team a little healthier from the comfort of home or their latest hot desk. Branded tech swag elevates any office space and provides plenty of opportunities for your hybrid employees to rep their brand outside of the office. Custom tech swag is a thoughtful way to announce a launch, celebrate a successful collaboration or simply recognize your team for a job well done!

🔎 More custom swag picks, this way!

reusable water bottle or mug

The Best Swag For Hybrid Teams - Insulated Tumber with Straw


Custom Product Ideas for In-Person Teams - Welly Bottle


Custom Product Ideas for In-Person Teams - Insulated Mug 2


Encourage your team to hydrate sustainably in the office and on-the-go with custom-branded water bottles and insulated mugs! Break rooms or company kitchens are a great place for hybrid employees to catch up over a second cup of coffee or a quick refill from the break room, but you can keep your WFH team involved in the conversation, too! Why not send a custom branded bottle or mug with an invitation to a private slack channel or recurring mini-meeting designed to help hybrid teams connect over their morning cup? 

➡️ Helpful ideas for productive mornings, this way!


Looking for more custom product ideas? Start here: 


How to Incorporate Custom Products In Your Marketing Strategy

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