Before Covid-19, the benefits of a remote workforce were widely discussed. In a matter of months, organizations had to confront this head-on, and such conversations changed dramatically. As a result of the pandemic, many companies are now nearly 100% remote. While companies had to ensure a smooth transition for their employees, many businesses had a chance to reflect on their workforces and understand what best suited their people. Is working remotely here to stay?
In a recent IBM survey, more than 75% of people indicated they’d like to continue to work remotely at least partially, while 54% prefer working remotely as their primary method. The survey indicates that the shift toward a remote workforce requires “more than a simple change of location” and will require “the use of soft skills to continue to be productive and successful.”
Looking ahead, the future of the workplace will be forever changed — and now is not the time to cut back on investing in company culture and inclusivity. If anything, the current environment and transition to a flexible work culture make supporting and recognizing our colleagues more important.
Maintaining company culture remotely is challenging, but it presents many opportunities for companies to collaborate with employees to shape the future of the workforce and empower employees in new ways.
The Value Of Working Remotely
As companies focused on a smooth transition to a remote model, some for the first time, employees were dealing with their own transitions into a new environment and culture.
Employees adapted to a more unstructured working environment in their own homes. For some, this has meant setting up temporary desks on kitchen tables and balancing their day-to-day work with home schooling their children. It meant losing the dynamic and engaging office environment, a place designed to naturally promote inclusion and collaboration. Companies globally faced the question: When employees are physically separated, how do you foster a strong company culture?
Companies must recognize and respect that the lines between professional and personal are blurred. Building a remote culture is more than investing in the right tools and technology to enable it. For example, at Finastra we found that many of our employees were working “after-hours” far more than before due to juggling home commitments. To help employees manage their duties as parents, we host virtual kid’s club sessions (like bingo, cooking, and arts and crafts) to help to keep employees’ children entertained during the day.
In addition, adapting to an unstructured working environment presents opportunities to provide more autonomy for employees. Giving employees the flexibility to make decisions empowers them to own and see their work through. Greater autonomy delivers results. When employees are empowered to finish tasks in their preferred ways, they are proud and motivated to go above and beyond to ensure the best results.
According to a Slack survey, “newly remote knowledge workers are struggling to adapt to their new workplace reality,” leading to “bigger issues that negatively affect workers’ sense of belonging and overall work satisfaction.” Managers who micromanage less and instill trust in their team show how the value of employee autonomy in a remote culture can go a long way.
Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Not long ago, one of the stigmas associated with remote working was that employees would be disconnected due to the lack of in-person interactions. However, because remote employees make up a larger share of today’s workforce, it’s time to rethink how employees socialize and connect. Building an inclusive company culture remotely starts with strong communications and engaging employees creatively.
When working remotely, it’s easy to fall into a monotonous routine and feel isolated. To beat this, strong communication is key to bringing a sense of community and maintaining a cohesive culture. Encourage employees to host virtual happy hours and trivia lunches, or turn on video during conference calls for face-to-face virtual interactions. Slack’s survey data“suggests that collaboration tools can have a significant impact on remote workers’ feelings of connection.” And between March and June, instant messaging among our employees went up by 141%, and calls increased by 128%. As such, our virtual community strengthened.
Communication is a two-way street. While it’s important to provide a level of transparency and engagement with employees, companies need to be sure that they are listening and giving employees a platform to express themselves. Consider holding a regular all-company “checkpoint” call hosted by the leadership team that is dedicated to addressing employee questions or taking weekly pulse-check surveys.
The Little Things
Small talk before diving into an agenda. That chuckle when we see a colleague’s new virtual background. Each moment like this fuels connection and brings light in these trying times. Companies today have an opportunity to reimagine employee experiences creatively. The little things have always mattered, and they matter even more in a virtual setting.
Recognizing employees for their hard work and contributions boosts morale and positivity. It’s a simple way to ensure each person feels like an integral part of company culture. And we must not forget about celebrating employees’ birthdays or work anniversaries — there is a tremendous opportunity for companies to creatively go about celebrating these moments. Organize a surprise virtual celebration or highlight the special occasion in team channels.
As the world’s largest work-from-home experiment continues, companies have the power to work closely with employees to shape the future of work. Recently from a company survey, we learned that 74% of employees believe working from home benefits their well-being, and nearly 90% would be happy to work from home twice a week or more. It’s time we all reimagine a more flexible workplace for the future by listening to and working with our employees.
It’s important to keep a sense of togetherness to foster an inclusive culture for employees and equip them with tools to continue delivering excellent service and work, wherever they’re based.
Original Article by: Forbes.com