How Organizations are Successfully Evolving into the Remote Working Culture

Working remotely is a concept that is here to stay. To paraphrase Austin Allison in his article, “Five Pillars of Creating a World-Class Remote Culture” in Inc. magazine, A whopping 83% of the employees surveyed said that the shift to working remotely has been a boon to companies, 54% of employees say they wish to continue to work remotely, and 77% said they prefer to work for companies that provide the flexibility to work from anywhere.

Remote Working Culture

Remote working has become a successful venue with many companies and is catching on with others. Yet while an all-remote workforce can be scary, the payoffs can be huge. How do companies make it work?

First, it takes commitment. When a company commits to going all-in on remote operations, the employees can plan for daily quality of life without having to commute or move to an office location. Companies no longer have to open a single location, which would leave out potential employment for nonlocals. Instead, by working remotely, these companies instill an in-person connection time for all employees with bi-yearly meetings.

Second, a company’s mission should endeavor to keep valued employees instead of becoming a revolving door. This mission must be stated clearly and positively, and inspire passion in employees. It is important for employees to know why their responsibilities are important in the company. That knowledge creates a touchstone which can be implemented, especially during times of uncertainty.

Third, a company’s values should not only be lived but also be verbally communicated to its customers, vendors, patients, etc. Values may include: “Your privacy is important to us,” or “We value your trust in us,” and “We appreciate your business.” For example, when a medical firm spoke aloud their values to their patients through using patient names and explaining how they valued the patient’s privacy, their survey scores were raised to award-winning levels.

Another successful component is that companies must hire employees for added value. When company owners and managers live and breathe the mission and values, it becomes critical to hire employees who embrace those same values daily. While ticking off boxes of skills and a desire to work remotely become table stakes for candidates, what company owners and managers need to know is how the new hires will add value to our culture and if the new employees will simply survive or thrive within the company.

A key element in ensuring an employee thrives in a company’s culture is how to deal with isolation because employees agree that the biggest challenge of working remotely is working alone. To combat that threat, leaders must work with employees by asking how much daily engagement with other people is required, and whether that engagement needs to be with colleagues, or taking a break from work by checking in with family or friends. The first step that leaders should take to battle employee isolation issues is to create active reinforcements. Company leaders have begun instituting flexible support structures and initiatives that emphasize communication and employee connection. Using such tools as Ask Me Anything (AMA) sessions with leaders, spotlighting employees, monthly virtual group activities, virtual coffee meetups, and using Slack channels for hobbies and interests of employees can support a company to remain flexible and responsive to their employees’ needs. Also, using messaging tools, such as Slack, is a great way to have employees get to know each other. In an article by Ben Kettle titled, “How to Thrive in a Remote World,” he quotes Laila von Alvensleben of MURL, who states, “It’s okay to share part of your personal life with others without waiting to be asked.” These tools provide a means for colleagues to connect on a more personal level to possibly read what a colleague is doing that may interest them as well.

Another step is to create rituals. Some company leaders began posting little incentives such as “Fun Fact” questions in Slack for employees to respond to. Those rituals get employees to share more about themselves, thereby creating camaraderie between the employees.

Managers should conduct intentional weekly or monthly meetings with a clear agenda and a purpose for each meeting, including small talk/unstructured time before and after meetings can be important to employees to make them relax and connect with each other. During these meetings, tools such as Google Docs can also provide a means for employees to respond with nonverbal feedback.

By implementing commitment, a clear and concise mission statement, calling out a company’s values, and hiring employees with the same value system, a company can be successful in this new world of working remotely. Company leaders should also take measures to battle employee isolation. Measures such as scheduled meetings, using tools such as Slack, Ask Me Anything or Google Docs, may ensure employee satisfaction and a quality work product in a remote workplace.

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