Companies around the world are shifting their teams to permanent remote or hybrid work, in part to accommodate the majority of knowledge workers who say they want flexible work options post-pandemic. Many organizations viewed telecommuting as a temporary solution at the onset of Covid, but are now faced with the challenge of reimagining, redefining or expanding their corporate cultures as we collectively recognize that the traditional workplace no longer exists.
Many of the office-centric traditions that once supported an organization’s culture are no longer accessible. Without a desk to go to, employees miss important opportunities to socialize and connect with colleagues or collaborate in person. Many remote workers say they are struggling more than ever to find work-life balance, as the lines between work and home have become blurred.
Organizations need to rethink how the business as a whole interacts, communicates and connects with each other as it adapts to the new reality of fully remote or hybrid environments.
A strong company culture supports its employees in their efforts to contribute, stay productive and grow professionally. While remote/hybrid work arrangements can present unique challenges, there are a number of ways managers of remote teams can continue to foster a healthy culture.
Invest in the right technology and training
Company culture will grow on its own whether or not leadership is steering the ship. In a remote environment, it’s easy to become disconnected from company values if managers don’t model those values in a clear and consistent way. Leaders lead by example; if kindness, warmth, and courtesy are core company values, let those values act as a North Star in meetings and beyond.
To communicate effectively, it’s essential not only to have the right technology for your business needs, but also that everyone, top to bottom, is trained in its use. Remote work tools, management software, and performance platforms can help strengthen your company culture by keeping lines of communication open and transparent, which builds trust.
This may require revising your onboarding process for new hires, investing time and money in company-wide training, or upgrading the tools you currently use to better meet to the needs of your organization.
High-quality technology allows workers to be both productive and connected without the need to monitor too much. Ditch the habits of micro-management and trust that employees can and do meet the challenges of remote working when equipped with the right tools.
Establish routines and rituals
With remote work, it’s important to create touchpoints for employees and consciously communicate in an inclusive way. Think carefully about the various rituals your organization used to build trust and bond in a pre-pandemic era, and how you might translate these practices into a virtual experience. This is an opportunity to determine which elements of your culture you want to preserve and which should be left out.
Establish routines for daily/weekly/monthly check-ins, such as a daily 15-minute stand-up for teams to synchronize their tasks for the day, identify blockers, and create opportunities for collaboration. Weekly resource meetings can be used to assess each team member’s bandwidth and make adjustments accordingly, and one-on-one monthly meetings allow managers to better understand what is difficult or blocking a team member. team, whether it’s work. or personal life.
Many companies try to limit most meetings to 15 or 30 minutes in an effort to prevent employees from getting bogged down with an endlessly busy schedule with little time to complete their actual work.
Regular “town halls” are an opportunity for everyone in the company to hear from leaders about the organization’s accomplishments, performance and future goals.
Professional development opportunities are another key part of establishing a healthy company culture. Consider a program of virtual workshops, a series of lunchtime lectures, or other training opportunities that encourage employees to take active ownership of their career development.
Equally important is providing outlets for team members to feel heard, as is promoting events, challenges, or other employee interactions that allow teammates to put the work in. night light and socialize, even if they are in different time zones.
Prioritize employee work-life balance
Some WFH employees struggle to define the boundary between personal life and work, which is easy to do when your office is never more than a few steps away.
Set clear expectations for working hours and response times, and make sure everyone, from senior management down, adheres to those same parameters. It undermines your company’s values if you tell your remote teams that there’s a sudden shutdown of the workday, but managers or other senior executives send Slack messages well after hours. Knowing that boundaries are respected company-wide makes employees feel more in control of their work and personal lives.
Recognize that employees face different circumstances in their personal lives and give them flexibility. Parents may have children learning remotely or struggling with a revolving door of school closures, while other team members may be dealing with elderly parents or similar challenges. Empathy and trust that employees will do their best to deal with a given situation speaks to an organization’s values of putting people first.
Adapting to a remote/hybrid environment will take time, investment, and quite a bit of trial and error. But organizations have a unique opportunity ahead of them to collaborate with their employees and build a culture based on shared values that serves the entire business, even if most of the business is working from home.