By now you must have read several articles detailing the urgent need to go remote. And must have been informed about the umpteen benefits offered by remote working. The truth is whether or not your organization was prepared for this shift, the pandemic has forced us all to go down that route. But, have we really done enough to cultivate a culture where remote working can be successful, even in the long run?
We believe not.
Our observation of organizations that went remote during the last year showed us one specific area where lack of action resulted in poor employee engagement, motivation, and collaboration. Yes, all these problems were closely related to the organizations’ cultures!
More specifically, organizations that did not identify the need to transform their culture, or were unable to do so were the ones who struggled the most while going remote. And their employees were the ones who suffered on a regular basis. Which greatly affected their relationship with the employer brand as a whole.
This observation left a heavy impression on us, leading us towards an insight:
Remote Working can only be successful if supported with a relevant culture shift.
What do we mean by a cultural shift?
It’s important to understand that in this situation, we may feel like we have done everything that is needed to help our employees go remote but still end up having done nothing.
Take for example all the technology available to help us transition to a virtual world. We have Google Meets, Microsoft Teams, and such apps helping us conduct meetings from far apart. There are enough collaboration tools and software available to keep the work going. And several organizations have also shifted their employees onto business communication apps that allow for easy conversations. But there’s still a major gap that remains unaddressed.
The behavioral shift.
In reality, we have all the tech to get us going, but as humans, we also have to undergo a behavioral change to make the transition to remote working completely successful! And most organizations aren’t doing much to facilitate that.
Which is why you see employees going on 10 calls a day but still feeling disconnected from each other. Or managers taking hourly updates but still having little trust in their employees.
Thus, to bring about highly specific behavioral changes, the transformation needs to begin by reimagining the very culture of the workplace. So in a remote setting, your employees can collaborate with each other effectively and align themselves to the organization’s purpose despite not being physically involved.
Creating a culture that fosters agility in remote working.
Most employees and managers have had to change their way of working almost overnight. And this scenario has bred an environment of distrust, division, and disengagement. Where micromanagement is flourishing, leaving little scope for innovation and independent thinking.
And the worst part about this, in an increasingly virtual world, where agility is key, your culture may be making it more and more difficult for your employees to be agile!
So, you need to direct your organization’s efforts towards building a culture that not only allows but encourages agility. And it begins when you take stock of the gaps that are not being addressed by your culture.
Ask your leaders, managers, and employees to freely express their challenges with remote working. And then analyze key ways in which you could transform your culture to suit their remote needs.
It can mean finding new, more social ways of engaging your employees to nurture their sense of belonging. Helping managers develop a process that works for them and their teams, and that instills trust by setting standards for regular work updates and deadlines. Or crafting new policies specifically targeted to help them maintain their work-life balance in the current stressful times.
In the end, it all comes down to you assessing your culture to check if it is truly allowing your employees to work effectively in a remote setting. Where your people are not micromanaged and feel engaged, responsible, and accountable. Where your managers feel empowered to trust their employees while becoming better people managers.
All of this so your organizational culture actually makes it easy for your employees to succeed in the virtual world.
If you want to further discuss culture transformation in the context of remote working, write to firstname.lastname@example.org. We would be more than happy to connect and get the conversation started!