It’s safe to say we are living in a very different world to the one we were in just 18 months ago. Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses worldwide have been forced to rethink their business practices and company culture as their workspaces and offices have been closed to help prevent the spread of the virus. As a result, remote working has become the “new normal” as companies try to find pragmatic solutions to these unprecedented times.
Interestingly, a study conducted by IBM reported that more than 54% of people still want to continue working remotely after the pandemic is resolved, which means that companies must learn how to maintain their company culture while their employees are scattered across various locations.
What is company culture?
It’s essentially a combination of your business values, ethics, goals, and mission. Think of it as an amalgamation of your company’s shared attributes and characteristics. It’s the way your colleagues engage with each other, how management interacts with employees, and the company’s overall atmosphere and philosophy.
According to a Glassdoor survey, a whopping 56% of employees rank having a good workplace culture to be more important than a high salary. This shows just how important it is to develop and maintain a healthy, strong, vibrant company culture even with the newfound distance between colleagues.
With that said, here are five quick tips on how to maintain your company culture while working remotely.
Observe your current culture
Now is an excellent time to reinforce the culture you want to develop in your company. The thing is, your workplace will develop a culture whether you pay attention to it or not, so rather than leave it to chance, why not put measures in place now while remote working tendencies are still relatively in their infancy? This gives you a chance to break bad habits before they form and cut out any toxic behaviors that are currently present. To do this:
- Take a step back and observe your business.
- Look at how your colleagues interact with each other and what the overall “feel” of your company is like.
- If possible, talk to your managers, senior leadership, and employees and find out how everyone is coping with the new situation and see how you can improve it.
If you’re happy with the way things are, reinforce these good habits while people are working remotely and praise your employees on this success. If not, you must be very clear in your understanding of what you want to change, why, and how you’re going to do it.
30% of hiring managers believed that a reduction in team cohesion was one of the most significant issues with remote work. This is typically brought on by a lack of communication and a feeling of disconnection due to the lack of face-to-face contact and broken communication channels. Fortunately, there are many ways to overcome this issue, and it’s all about opening up new communication channels.
These days we are spoiled for choice with communication software, apps, and technology, so much so that looking for a solution can feel quite overwhelming. With that said, there are new and improved versions of team email that do a great job at facilitating communication between employees without the need for stiff formalities and long, confusing threads. This is a great way for your employees to share knowledge and collaborate with each other in a safe and easy-to-use platform, and it goes a long way to breaking down the challenges employees experience with remote working.
In a survey, 30% of participants ranked loneliness as one of the greatest challenges they face while working from home. This lack of human contact can negatively impact mental health and induce feelings of anxiety and depression in some people, which is why business owners need to think of new ways for employees to connect with each other.
A great way to combat this is by introducing informal virtual meetings such as coffee breaks and even things such as virtual quizzes. This helps to catch up on all the missed “office talk” and provides an excellent opportunity for colleagues to keep in touch with each other without it being something work-related.
Trust your employees
Trust is an essential ingredient for building mutual respect between you and your employees. It’s a must for fostering productivity in the workplace (even if it is at home), as those who are treated with dignity, respect and trust will usually rise to the occasion and pay you back with a high work ethic.
Unfortunately, many business owners have enforced strict monitoring practices on their remote working employees to make sure they are doing the work they should be doing instead of “slacking off”. This shows a lack of trust and will begin to break down relationships between employees and management, which is not exactly good for the work culture.
To get around this, set clear guidelines for your employees and refrain from micromanaging their tasks while working remotely. By all means, you must set boundaries, and your employees should keep you up to date with their progress and activities, but try not to cross the line and come across and someone who is interfering.
Pay attention to your employee’s work-life balance
Finally, if you want to foster and maintain a healthy work culture, you must be willing to pay attention to your employee’s work-life balance and see if there is any way you can help improve their circumstances.
This could mean something as simple as giving them more flexible working hours to help care for their children or offer more flexible leave so they can get to grips with the new situation we all find ourselves in.
A good work culture is one that promotes caring for one another and keeping true to company values. It’s a culture where all of its members look out for one another and have each other’s best interests at heart. While it can be challenging to maintain this ethos during these difficult times, the biggest change must come from the top (with the owners) to set a good example and show their employees what is expected of them.
Smith Willas is a freelance writer, blogger, and digital media journalist. He has a management degree in Supply Chain & Operations Management and Marketing and boasts a wide-ranging background in digital media.