Ford Foundation

Transitioning to hybrid work while attending to culture and equity


The Problem

Like organizations around the world, the Ford Foundation transitioned from working entirely in-person to entirely virtual overnight in early 2020. Two years into the pandemic, its team began to wonder: how might we maintain the best of virtual work and transition back to the office to foster a sense of community and collaboration?

The Work

Ford saw an opportunity to envision new ways of working to ensure employees felt valued while nurturing trust and equity across the organization. In late 2021 and early 2022, Franklin Street collaborated with August Public to design a 3-part learning experience for every employee at Ford. The series aimed to open up dialogue about the organization’s cultural commitments, and ultimately to support employees in feeling ready for hybrid work.

The Learning

Ask questions

We prompted Ford’s leadership team to reflect and set a vision for hybrid work. What does an effective team at Ford believe and how do they collaborate? What are the tension points that emerge across lines of difference – especially in a hybrid work setting? Therefore, what are the mindsets and skills that managers and all employees most need to develop?

Create an unforgettable experience

We designed a 3-part learning series aimed at helping every employee at Ford develop critical teaming skills like self-awareness, critical consciousness, empathy, and direct feedback and communication. We added manager-only experiences to enable managers to talk openly about their successes and areas for growth in a community of peers. 

The Impact

Ultimately, every employee across Ford’s global offices participated in the learning series we created, and managers engaged in three additional workshops to ensure they felt ready to support their employees in the transition to hybrid work. Feedback suggests this series opened up lines of communication that were previously closed, and employees at all levels reported feeling more connected to one another during and after the transition to hybrid as a result of their shared experience.