Digital leadership — Hybrid heritage

Following Covid-19’s digital kickstart, what does a blend of in-person/digital working and services mean for heritage and the way you lead? The first online seminar in the Leading the Sector 2022 series focused on hybrid heritage.

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Photo by Arvid Høidahl on Unsplash

Digital leadership — Hybrid heritage

1. Full seminar recording

This resource contains the full seminar recording, alongside some shorter clips highlighting some of the key and interesting talking points made by the speakers: Zak Mensah (Co-CEO, Birmingham Museums Trust) and guests Lisa Westcott Wilkins (Co-founder and Managing Director, DigVentures) and Mark Bishop (Director of Customer & Cause, the National Trust for Scotland). It also features a number of useful resources, reports and toolkits to help you with hybrid within your own heritage organisation.


Download the video transcript

2. We can’t go back

We can’t go back to how things were before the pandemic. We, and our staff, have experienced the flexibility that hybrid working can bring to our work/life balance. The old way of doing things is not necessarily the best way of doing things, for our organisations and for us as individuals. Hybrid working gives us an opportunity to build more inclusive organisations, ones that allow for greater flexibility for our staff and our organisations.

Zak Mensah, Co-CEO at Birmingham Museums Trust, discusses how the changes brought about by the pandemic are permanent.

Download the video transcript

3. A disruption in the way we work

The pandemic has caused a significant disruption to the way we work. But the change we’ve seen to date has been brewing for some time, long before Covid-19. The pandemic accelerated that change, it forced us into experimenting with hybrid working and to question what ‘the office’ really is and how our organisational rhythms dictate the way we work. There have always been different ideas, in the heritage sector, about what the office is. From collections stores to a wood in a nature reserve, and these assumptions about what an office is, and the function it provides, has carried over into our new hybrid ways of working. Technology allowed us to re-create the old ways of working – but is this how we want to work moving forwards?

Many of the challenges and the issues we’ve faced around how we work in a hybrid way hasn’t necessarily been caused by technological limitations, they have mostly been caused by the existing problems in the ways we’ve always worked – from poor communication to inflexible working rhythms. So the question is not, ‘how can technology help us to recreate the ways we work?’. Instead, it should be, ‘how can we improve the way we work using technology?’.

Zak Mensah, Co-CEO at Birmingham Museums Trust talking about how the pandemic disrupted the way we work.

Download the video transcript

4. Collaboration doesn’t have to start with a meeting

Collaboration can be achieved asynchronously – we don’t have to collaborate in the same place, or even at the same time. We can bring people into our organisation, be they employees or collaborators, without having to have them present in the physical space. We knew it before, but the pandemic has cemented the fact that people work best in different ways and at different times and hybrid working gives us the opportunity to tailor the way we work to suit our teams. We should be focusing on moving forward with how we work, thinking about new ways of doing things – rather than going back to working in the same ways that we always were.

Lisa Westcott Wilkins, Co-founder and Managing Director at DigVentures, discusses how collaboration doesn’t have to only happen in person.

Download the video transcript

5. The challenge of creating a shared culture

It is still important to remember that not every role can be a hybrid role, as not all jobs lend themselves to that kind of flexibility. How can we ensure that those who can’t have flexibility in their roles still feel valued and still feel included in the organisational culture?

Hybrid working can help us to build organisations that revolve around a culture of connection. Hybrid working is more than just working from home and even for those with roles that don’t allow for that kind of flexibility, hybrid working can enable us to build this shared culture through simultaneous reach and collaboration. We can all work together, at the same time or in our own time, across sites, roles and responsibilities, using digital tools, platforms and technologies.

As we experiment further with hybrid working, it’s important to embrace the change that experimentation might bring. We can’t set our plans in stone. We need to talk openly to the workforce and explain that it’s a new journey for everyone, so there will certainly be teething problems. But if we keep our working patterns and rhythms under regular review, we can work to create a culture that involves everyone.

Mark Bishop, Director of Customer & Cause at the National Trust for Scotland, speaks about the need for creating a shared organisational culture.

Download the video transcript

6. In conclusion

The forced experiments of remote working in 2020 and the hybrid reality of the last two years have led us to a place where we are all fundamentally questioning and rethinking how we work. Those questions will not be answered over night, but it’s important that we experiment with how we work, that we challenge our practice. Hybrid working gives us the opportunity for greater flexibility, for more collaboration beyond our walls and to bring in people who might not have been able to work with us before. However, hybrid working practice is far from perfect and there are plenty of challenges to overcome. Below are some further resources which will hopefully help you with your hybrid working practices.


7. Further resources

Reports and research



8. Attribution

Digital leadership – Hybrid heritage resource (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0

More help here

A bronze statue of a man deep in thought

How to effectively support remote or hybrid work patterns

This resource offers advice and guidance on the most effective digital tools and methods for supporting remote or hybrid working patterns. It explores useful tips for managers supporting remote workers and the technology available to improve in areas such as communication, scheduling and project management. It also highlights some key security considerations when working in this manner.

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Digital leadership – Inclusion, equity and digital

The fourth online seminar in the Leading the Sector 2022 series explores the role of digital in developing more open, inclusive and equitable organisations; and involving more people in heritage more meaningfully.

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Digital leadership – Digital infrastructure and process

With the right leadership, digital tools, systems and processes can empower heritage organisations in their activities, services and capacity. The third online seminar in the Leading the Sector 2022 series discusses why the behind-the-scenes element of digital maturity is so vital in meeting your organisation’s aims and objectives and what leaders need to be doing about it.


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Digital Hybrid Leadership
Published: 2022
Resource type: Webinars and films

Creative Commons Licence Except where noted and excluding company and organisation logos this work is shared under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 (CC BY 4.0) Licence

Please attribute as: "Digital leadership — Hybrid heritage (2022) by Culture24 supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, licensed under CC BY 4.0


More help here

Digital Heritage Hub is managed by Arts Marketing Association (AMA) in partnership with The Heritage Digital Consortium and The University of Leeds. It has received Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) and National Lottery funding, distributed by The Heritage Fund as part of their Digital Skills for Heritage initiative. Digital Heritage Hub is free and answers small to medium sized heritage organisations most pressing and frequently asked digital questions.

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