In a year of working from home, juggling childcare with Zoom meetings, and restrictions upon restrictions, a lot of people are starting to reflect on how their work lives will change as normality slowly resumes, and offices open. So, what’s next?
A lot has changed in a year and company culture has become even more important, with it now being a major deciding factor for prospective employees. Businesses will need to think about how their company culture translates remotely, especially with the demand for flexible working with 57% of people saying they want flexible working (a combination of office and remote working) going forwards. A positive culture brings a lot of benefits including higher retention, improved wellbeing and higher productivity to name a few. Below we explore how companies build a great company culture remotely.
Trusting their employees
The Netherlands has been leading the way for flexible working as they have an ‘astonishingly flexible culture’. Joël Bennett, Business Development Director in our Netherlands office says, “The most important thing is trust. I think employers are always afraid that people who work from home aren’t as productive, but they are.
“What companies in the Netherlands do very well is they look at their basic facilities, such as providing fewer desks than employees so not everyone can be at the office on the same day. This is how they motivate people to embrace flexible working. Because they have less desk and other facilities, they can use the extra money to give their employees extra benefits like home office equipment. My wife, for example, even gets vouchers for plants or flowers, so she can create a nice atmosphere in her home office.”
Working from home is not the same as a truly flexible work culture
During a recent event, our CEO Jacqui Barratt explained that “…working from home during this time is not flexible working” which is important to remember, especially for caregivers. Flexible working is not just a day at home. It allows time to do the school run, or provides working hours that suit caring responsibilities, your family life or even your working style, and does not necessarily mean sitting in an office. A truly flexible work culture requires a focus on three areas: organisational culture, policy and manager training.
Adapting to working remotely
When companies made the switch to working from home a lot of the same processes remained in place but happened remotely. However, companies need to look at their processes and re-envision them with involvement from employees. What would work better for people? For example, with a project, is it better to have people physically in the office for initial planning and then working remotely for execution? How do you manage your teams? How do you mentor? Collaborate? How can you do this more effectively?
Organisations should also reflect on their values and culture and on the interactions, practices, and rituals that promote that culture.
Using technology more effectively
Everyone knows that they need to use technology in order to stay in touch and collaborate but now the next step is to make sure that technology is being used in the most effective way. There have been reports of burnout, ‘Zoom fatigue’ and with everything pretty much turning into a video call, people’s calendars are filled up for the whole day with no progress being made with their work, leading to a vicious cycle.
This all feeds into the culture you’re creating at work. Some companies are enforcing no calls on a Friday or encouraging employees to block out two hours or more out of their diaries where they cannot be interrupted. Encourage a culture that doesn’t mean you’re always ‘on’. Make time for connection and check ins with your colleagues too.
Better interviewing and onboarding remote processes
Many companies are now offering remote contracts and whilst colleagues may be based elsewhere, it’s important that they still feel a part of your team. A great way to start doing this is through your interview and onboarding processes.
Some successful ways we’ve seen this happen is sharing company videos, office virtual tours, and letting candidates speak to different teams to understand your culture better.
It’s harder to replicate that new office feeling where people can pick up the vibe of your office in an interview, where they can usually meet the receptionist and see collaboration in meetings. Therefore, putting more effort into your onboarding process will make a huge difference.
Going forward, companies will need to make sure they listen to their employees to see how they can effectively build a company culture that works for everyone and that it’s an environment everyone can thrive in.
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