The workplace has changed, probably for good, in the wake of the pandemic. Most companies are likely to continue to support at least portions of their workforce working from home at least some of the time. The challenge they face is creating a company culture that promotes collaboration, productivity, and employee engagement and retention when not everyone works in the same physical place.

The reality is that creating a cohesive company culture is hard, even without the wrinkles caused by remote work. Gallup data shows that even without working virtually, about 60% of employees (virtual or not) cannot fully agree that they know what their company stands for. Remote employees are seven percentage points less likely to see their connection to the mission of the company.

So, what can be done to solidify company culture in remote or hybrid teams? Here are a few ideas:

Codify the culture 

Telebu’s Nisha Parikh recommends that an organisation starts by defining the values, beliefs, structures, professional traditions, unwritten rules and observed behaviours that drive the culture. Once you’ve defined the positive and negative aspects of your culture, you can start drawing up mission and value statements, policies, codes of conduct and guidelines to nurture the sort of culture you’d like to see in the business. I would add that if you have already codified these elements in company policies, it’s worth revisiting them to check whether they take the needs of remote work into account.

Measure cultural drivers

Gallup stresses the importance of creating a feedback loop to measure how well employees are connecting to the culture and aligning their behaviours with what matters most to the organisation. You can use tools such as employee surveys to find out how people feel about their teams, their relationships with co-workers, and collaboration to gauge how well your culture is enduring.

Leaders should be role models 

People management experts, Pamela Hinds and Brian Elliott, note the importance of leadership in providing examples of the culture the company aims to bring to life. This comes naturally in a face-to-face setting, where a good manager or team leader implicitly transmits culture “by modelling behaviours and values in the presence of their employees.” In a remote setting, leaders will need to think carefully about how they will transmit these signals to employees using collaboration platforms, one-on-one sessions, townhall discussions and other mechanisms.

Watch our webinar for more insights

Please watch our ‘Living through disruption’ webinar on YouTube where we explored some more of the human, business and tech challenges of the remote working world.

Moderators and panelists included:

  • Asanda Sosibo, Portal sales manager, Tarsus Distribution
  • Shirlinia Martin, General manager, channel sales, Tarsus Distribution
  • Bev Hancock, conversational catalyst, strategic facilitator and interactive presenter
  • Siphiwe Moyo, CEO of Paradigm People Solutions

References:

https://www.gallup.com/workplace/317753/remote-work-virtual-threat-culture.aspx

https://www.peoplemattersglobal.com/site/interstitial?return_to=%2Farticle%2Fculture%2Fhow-remote-working-is-affecting-the-organization-culture-28600

https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/technology/pages/viewpoint-why-remote-work-doesnt-have-to-dilute-your-companys-culture.aspx

[Photo by  Gorodenkoff on Adobe Stock]