How To Cultivate A People Centric Work Culture While Working Remotely?
Whether working remotely or in office, people need to feel valued, motivated and part of a supportive team to put in their best efforts at their jobs.
Last year the world changed. People adjusted to life within the four walls of their homes and organizations across the world scrambled to facilitate remote working for their teams. Today, it is clear that remote working is here to stay with many organizations announcing some form of hybrid working future. In fact, hiring for work from home roles has gone up three-fold post the lockdown in India, and searches for “work from home” jobs are at an all-time high on a popular job search portal.1 Of course with the right technology platform it is entirely possible to work, connect, and collaborate seamlessly online. But what about the intangible but powerful “people culture” that most modern organizations strive to nurture today? How can virtual collaboration make up for the relationships developed through in person meetings, team get-togethers, and informal interactions? As the future of work continues to evolve, organizations must chalk up a comprehensive policy to connect, engage and empower their teams. Here are some crucial elements any remote working strategy must include:
Appreciate differences - A long term remote or hybrid working plan must begin by understanding human differences. Some people may thrive in a remote set up while some may crave the personal interactions of the office. Yet others may need the physical separation between their personal and private spaces and look forward to the bustle of the office to be productive. There may even be new members who joined during the lockdown and didn’t get to meet their teams in person. Any policies put in place must account for all employees and address their varying requirements.
Invest in the right technology – The workplaces of the future will be built on technology. The infrastructure will be highly distributed, and organizations must prioritize security, network and collaboration. Over the last year, modern digital workspace solutions and virtual desktop infrastructures capable of supporting multiple end point devices saw an uptick in adoption and this trend will likely continue. Companies must continue to invest in virtual collaboration tools as well. Deployment of multi and hybrid clouds will accelerate further as will investments in security. This solid technology foundation will drive every outreach program and people focused initiative.
Establish a comprehensive communications strategy –Such large-scale remote working is new for most organizations. And as they work to establish the technology framework, they might ignore communications entirely, leaving their teams feeling cut off. Or they may go overboard with their outreach resulting in barrage of messages. It is important to establish routine and regular outreach practices to ensure organizational messages are received and understood and avoid misinformation. In the absence of face-to-face discussions it is important to open up multiple channels of communications including chat. Establish best practices for each channel, each level and each kind of communique. This includes setting down response time frames, email etiquette guidelines, and even guidelines for the duration of virtual meetings. Setting communication standards will prevent people getting barraged with messages, reduce interruptions, and ensure a seamless and cooperative work environment.
Open up two way communication channels - As people work remotely, they may feel cut off from the action and bustle of the office. Miscommunication and misunderstandings can flare up under these circumstances. Regular town halls with senior management, meetings with team leads and informal chats with HR can keep misinformation at bay and demonstrate the company’s willingness to listen to and act upon feedback.
Focus on mental health and building camaraderie – Remote working can help people cut out long commutes and save time. But the isolation of working from home is real. And under extraordinary circumstances like the current pandemic, individuals may be anxious, depressed, and stressed out. Team leads must be sensitive to people’s situations and encourage them to seek help whether in the form of additional support and time for a project or in terms of counselling and time of work. Organizations must provide employees with the resources they need for seeking help. They must make provisions for time off from work for those who need it. At the same time, fun team activities, virtual celebrations and wellness initiatives must become part of the remote work communications handbook.
Replicate office perks – Despite being remote, office and work engagements continue like before, albeit in a virtual environment. So, rewards, recognitions, celebrations, virtual team get togethers and every other office perk must continue as before.
At the end of the day, whether working remotely or in office, people need to feel valued, motivated and part of a supportive team to put in their best efforts at their jobs. Over the last extraordinary year, I have seen first hand how the right processes and communication can help teams across regions bridge the barriers of geography and circumstances to work cohesively. And I know that figuring out how to work with remote teams is not optional but a necessity for the future of work. As the country continues on this remote and hybrid working journey, the norms of communication and engagement will get clearer even as the technology evolves further.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house