How will a more prevalent remote work environment affect your company culture going forward?
It’s a question that many companies are pondering these days as the pandemic persists and remote working is still in full effect. Organizations that once prided themselves on their in person culture have no doubt seen their employee base turn to other ways to engage such as Slack, text messaging or zoom happy hours, only to realize it’s not exactly the same thing.
Now that we are months into a new remote working phase, I wondered how this will begin to affect company cultures going forward…will they morph into something new? Will culture be enhanced or muted because of the forced distancing?
Gordon Collier, an entrepreneur I know told me that work from home is forcing people to adapt. “Based on my conversations with leaders I think this period of forced remote work has pushed leaders to accept remote work and as a result are seeing higher work output. It’s also encouraged people to reflect on how they work well and it’s fostered empathy. People have less office distractions.”
More Focus on Results
There’s been a lot of chatter about how remote work will affect innovation or those impromptu conversations workers have in the lunch room or hallway. Certainly those encounters are going away, but they will be replaced by virtual chats, SMS exchanges and meetings. Any loss should be minimal. What is more likely to change however is a new focus on results.
There should be an emphasis on how managers evaluate and assess performance and projects. When you are working from home it’s less about face time and if someone is at their desk all day. Now it’s more about did they turn in this assignment and did they do it well?
More Meaningful Conversations
One of my connections, Irene Indarte, an HR Consultant told me over Linkedin she sees people having more thoughtful conversations. “Our culture has a focus on working as a team, collaboration and having fun/social. What I’ve seen during our WFH is people taking time to have more meaningful chats rather than a quick “hey there” in the hallway. I can see our company becoming more thoughtful of staying connected. The downside is I worry about people burning out. Too many forget to take time to relax and unplug.”
Becoming More Empathetic
Employers and managers are also being forced to be more empathetic and flexible when it comes to their workers lives. Many folks have had their kids bust into a zoom meeting or perhaps have had to cut short a call due to something happening in the house at that moment that required their attention. I can see these conversations becoming more acceptable in the future workplace.
More Demands on Managers
Kris Dunn, one of the hosts of the HR Famous podcast said on the show recently that managers will need to change as well. “I think that as we are less tied to place, your manager really becomes a new kind of cultural gravity. Their ability to flex and to show empathy in different ways to us and to be flexible, to get those results is really going to be the key thing. I think the managers who can show empathy in different ways, in different circumstances and show agility are the ones that are really, when I think probably the companies that train their managers to do that are the ones that are going to benefit.”
There are now a whole host of companies who have pledged to stay remote only companies going forward because of Coronavirus. These organizations understand the new reality and will adapt and adjust to this new way of work. Cultures will ebb and flow. If your company does eventually go back to the office be sure to remember the lessons from this time. Mainly that means becoming more empathic to workers and giving them the flexibility they need to stay productive.