Working the Remote Workplace

In this new era of remote and hybrid working in the digital workplace, how can companies keep their hard-won organisational culture healthy and productivity high?

Why is this important? According to a Glassdoor survey, 56% of employees find a good workplace culture to be more important than salary. However, when employees work remotely, building or even maintaining a company culture that reaches everyone is a challenge.

According to a survey conducted by TELUS International, a majority of respondents (51%) felt less connected to their company culture while working remotely.

Participants missed these the most when working out of the office:

  •            Small talk and interacting with colleagues (57%)
  •            Collaborating in person with a team (53%)
  •            The separation between work and home (50%)

Hear are 6 Tips to meet these challenges:

1.     Highlight your company values

A big part of your company culture are your values, which succinctly outline how you as a team play the game of business. This enables management to instil these values guidelines as the ‘playbook’ by which new recruits and existing staff tacitly understand what is expected of them and their behaviour.

This can be achieved through creative ways like:

Acknowledge and reward individuals who uphold company values at weekly or monthly meeting, through colleague nominations.

Incorporate your values in all digital platforms and tools from your website to Slack as well as all digital onboarding material.

Table one value per month at a monthly meeting addressing its importance and clarifying the behaviours that are linked to that value. Remember that values should be actionable statements and not one-word nouns that can be interpreted subjectively. e.g. Integrity = We do what we say.

2.     Focus on the wellbeing of employees in their remote

Employee engagement experts WorkVivo surveyed over 30 million professionals, with a staggering 30% of respondents claiming they were on the brink of burnout throughout lockdown. These figures represent a 50% increase from the previous year. Although lockdowns are an extreme, employees are still experiencing the fallout of zoom fatigue, lack of personal interactions and home space challenges.

To alleviate this: Focus on encouraging your employees to remain healthy, fit and mentally agile while working remotely.

Organise things like digital health breaks – with push notifications to stretch, drink water, perform a short exercise routine, or partake in a group meditation audio stream.

Companies have even been offering afterhours online yoga classes, healthy snack deliveries and mindfulness courses as voluntary programs to keep their staff healthy and happy in their home offices.

Companies could also offer psychological support by offering psychologist check-ups and surveys.

3.     Raise your level of communication

Transparent communication in a remote workplace is vital for maintaining your culture. As everyone is working from different locations, it’s easy for things to fall through the cracks. Employees need to trust you and feel trusted to work autonomously, so transparent and clear communication is key to addressing this.

Try these strategies to improve communication to help you build and maintain your remote culture:

Send out a companywide newsletter sharing goals, happenings and achievements of different departments to bring the company together.

Holding weekly companywide meetings can be a crucial in strengthening your work culture. Providing opportunities for different departments to share their work and for employees to see how everyone contributes to your overall business goals.

Establish communication standards to ensure clarity and expediency. Include chat best practices, response timeframes, and email etiquette. Setting up communication standards and tools will prevent people getting barraged with messages to reduce interruptions and make communication easier.

Send a survey for feedback, providing employees the opportunity to share what they do and don’t like about the current culture and ways to improve it.

And critically; use the right technology to uplift communication standards by equipping staff with appropriate hardware, software apps, and real-time chat tools to make communication a breeze.

Prioritise video or in person meetings for high-value meetings, allowing people to recognise each other. Seeing reactions, facial expressions and body language improves communication as people observe your body language almost as much as they listen to what you are saying. This also boosts psychological safety and rapport.

4.     Choose your digital tools wisely

51% of people that have been part of the great resignation of the last six months left because they were losing the sense of belonging, according to Workvivo.

Choosing your digital platforms to connect, communicate and project manage your workflow remotely is a crucial endeavour to create and maintain cultural adhesion. Employees can become inadvertently over burdened with technology impeding their work performance, or get lost in irrelevant app bells and whistles. So, pick the right technology for the right reason. Rule of thumb -go for simplicity without loss of functionality.

Slack, Teamphoria and Officevibe are some of the many tools that foster cultural adhesion.

Other creative tools for effective communication across your remote landscape should also be fostered. Some companies have created podcasts so employees can listen to management’s innovative ideas and feel more affiliated with their company’s values. Others have created daily video content to reach out through the digital divide and motivate their teams.

As a whole, people are searching for authenticity, especially from their leadership. Content needs to be very deliberate and based on topics that matter that will directly lead to greater work flow and productivity.

5. Finally, take time to acknowledge how far you’ve come as a team

With navigating your remote landscapes and challenges, it’s important to take stock and celebrate the big and little wins along the way.

Hosting an in-person offsite can be a great way to honour your team’s hard work and dedication. Pick out an inspiring destination, and avoid packing the schedule with tons of meetings and organised fun. Acknowledge how far you have come by giving your teams time to relax and enjoy each other’s company again.

Viewing your remote workplace differently can turn challenges into opportunities to streamline and boost you company’s culture and performance, if you meet it with creativity and transparency.

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