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Measuring and Maintaining Culture in Remote Work Environments.

The Covid pandemic revolutionised the way we work, thrusting remote arrangements into the limelight. Now that the dust has settled…

Measuring and Maintaining Culture in Remote Work Environments

20th May 2024

Remote work environment

By Charlie Coode, Founder of Culture15

Navigating the not-so-new normal

The Covid pandemic revolutionised the way we work, thrusting remote arrangements into the limelight. Now that the dust has settled – and in spite of resurgent debate – it’s evident that remote and hybrid working models are here to stay, with 70% of UK companies now engaging in some kind of work-from-home policy, according to a study by corporate travel services company, TravelPerk.

For knowledge workers in particular, remote work has become somewhat of a basic right, with a study by remote tool provider, Owl Labs, reporting that 62% of workers feel more productive when working remotely rather than in the physical office – an option that just 11% reported was more conducive to getting things done.

With this in mind, businesses are under urgent pressure to reevaluate how they measure and maintain company culture across dispersed work settings, making particular effort to avoid employee disengagement and social isolation. Indeed, several studies have revealed that remote work can enhance loneliness, especially among younger generations, with research from organisational psychologist, Lynn Holdsworth, revealing a 67% increase in perceived alienation when working alone. This distance can, of course, lead to imagined barriers between specific workers and the world of work, creating a separation that can increase disengagement, impacting business as a result.

The challenges of remote working

In 2022, Gartner revealed that cultural barriers account for a substantial 43% of the challenges inhibiting remote work around the world. Teamwork and communication – both integral components of a thriving culture – demand deliberate attention and adaptation in the absence of shared physical spaces and long-standing workplace norms.

The rush to facilitate remote work during the pandemic meant employers focussed primarily on logistics, ensuring both access and resources. Now, as remote and hybrid models cement their place in our working futures, it’s time to pivot our focus towards defining, measuring and nurturing remote culture, as well.

Defining cultural values

As with any cultural endeavour, remote or otherwise, a cultural compass must be set before taking further action. What principles guide the organisation? What behaviours and attitudes should be cultivated among workers? These are all questions that form the roadmap for assessing and reinforcing culture, irrespective of location.

Embracing digital measurement tools

Digital tools play an increasingly vital role in all parts of business life now, with the elucidation of current remote business culture as it stands serving as no exception.

Numerical data and KPIs play a pivotal role in deciphering a company’s cultural pulse, with everything from software solutions to employee engagement surveys serving to align target culture with company goals through the provision of valuable insights. The more tangible data that can be leveraged in this process, the better, as analysis will illuminate areas for potential improvement, guiding efforts towards a more cohesive and thriving culture.

Fostering connection

Once the desired cultural measures have been put in place, the corresponding collective behaviours must be upheld and maintained. This hinges primarily on fostering connection and communication, with regular virtual meetings, one-to-one check-ins and team-building activities in and out of the office serving to strengthen what’s already built.

Platforms like Slack, Teams and WhatsApp furthermore facilitate seamless collaboration with colleagues, allowing both task sharing and socialisation, even across time zones. Likewise, project management tools like Monday and Asana can make a world of difference when it comes to enhancing remote productivity and workflow cohesion.

Leading by example

Leadership is another, often overlooked, pillar of remote business culture. Transparent communication, empathy and recognition of employee contributions are non-negotiables in successful business settings, remote included. Leaders must demonstrate their appreciation, including remote employees in discussions as much as possible to foster a sense of ownership and inclusion. Showing their own commitment to company culture will also encourage others to get on board, ensuring that culture is not just a concept but something that remote teams can live by.

Adapting to feedback

Of course, culture is a fluid concept, evolving alongside continual changes in workplace dynamics. Regular feedback loops empower leaders to continually gauge the temperature of their culture, identifying areas of strength alongside avenues for growth. Flexibility and responsivity to employee input is furthermore paramount in this cultural iteration, with measurable evidence that this feedback has been taken on board serving to show employees that their contribution is truly valued and appreciated, keeping commitment and team spirit at the fore.

Prioritising wellbeing

One of the biggest challenges to combat when it comes to remote work is that it blurs the lines between professional and personal domains, which can put employee wellbeing at risk. Employers must therefore do all they can to encourage a healthy work-life balance, not only providing mental health resources and training but tracking the uptake and efficacy of these initiatives to ensure they’re as effective as possible.

Celebrating success

Finally, in remote settings, celebrating successes takes on renewed significance. Public recognition and rewards make a world of difference when it comes to maintaining team spirit and morale, with small gestures of appreciation reverberating loudly.

Charting the course

In this remote-first world, fostering and maintaining company culture demands intentionality, adaptability and demonstrability centred around reportable measurements. This is what maintains trust among staff and key stakeholders, allowing businesses to move forward with both confidence and resilience.

Categories: Advice, Articles

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