When COVID-19 hit, who could have imagined the changes that would come with it? Our way of life on so many levels looks very different today as compared to seven months ago. How are you adjusting?
One of the changes many have experienced is working remotely. This happened to many seemingly overnight as health officials and others scrambled to ensure safe working environments and how to best combat the virus. And just like that, your new office is now your kitchen table or home office. Gone are the familiar trappings and routines of your workspace. Gone are the people interactions you routinely participated in.
In a Stanford News report, we see 42% of the U.S labor force now working from home full time. Almost twice as many employees are working from home as at work. With numbers like this, it’s as important as ever to be intentional about maintaining a strong workplace culture even among remote workers.
While we acknowledge this new reality, we also must intentionally focus on ways to maintain a vibrant culture and uphold the values of our respective companies even while doing it remotely. With this in mind, here are some questions that we believe are essential as we talk about culture.
Does it really matter?
Our company culture is the driver behind employee behavior. And, it is the behavior of our employees that ultimately determines the success of the organization. Maintaining a strong, positive organizational culture becomes even more important and as employees transition to working remotely. This transition can be stressful both mentally and emotionally.
We want employees to feel empowered and trusted as they begin working remotely, many for the first time. We need to encourage a sense of camaraderie and ensure that employees do not feel isolated. And, we want to keep in alignment with our company values, even as we work from our own little corners of the world.
Who should be responsible?
There are many factors that play into maintaining company culture while working remotely. Responsibility for these factors falls on each of us. Employees need a point of contact to receive information and to address concerns. Human resources officers should serve as the contact that gives employees confidence that they have not been forgotten. Team leaders are ultimately responsible for building and maintaining culture. Leaders must work together to create a cohesive culture company wide. And employees shoulder
some of the responsibility for helping others feel included even though they are no longer working face-to-face.
How do we do it?
In a remote work environment, communication is more important than ever. Leaders must check in with remote workers frequently. It is a good idea to start a weekly rundown, where leaders share updates and employees have the opportunity to share feedback from their experiences. We want to ensure that we are building human connections within the team, even if it is virtually. We want to provide as much consistency for remote employees as possible by honoring traditions in new and innovative ways. We also want to provide them with processes, structures, and tools that are designed to help them succeed in the virtual work environment. Keep recognizing employees and don’t be afraid to try new things.
How do we measure it?
Employee engagement and culture was easier to measure before the pandemic hit and the majority of your workforce was onsite. Daily interactions and camaraderie was on full display for all to see. Issues and concerns that existed could more readily be dealt with and resolved in real time. But with more and more employees working remotely this is a new challenge. Leaders must be more engaged and sensitive to the needs of those they lead. Leaders no longer can afford a passive approach and be satisfied with the way things are so long as the work is being done. Leaders must be proactive and engaged with their people whether down the hall or across town.
We strongly believe that your workplace culture can thrive in spite of the challenges of remote working. It’s something that everyone in the organization must take ownership of and be responsible for. We believe it matters and when everyone takes personal ownership of it your organization can thrive.