Organisational culture has been given a whole new meaning by COVID-19. Over the past few months, we’ve seen the rapid uptake of communication and collaboration tools by businesses to keep employees engaged and performing at their best. However, as the traditional workplace transitions into a completely digital environment with remote teams, the celebration of local culture is at risk – particularly in a global organisation.
With remote working, business leaders must also re-evaluate their approach to inclusion. Enabling collaboration between individuals from different backgrounds, experiences and personal circumstances enhances creativity and morale, and integrating this ethos into workplace initiatives is essential for success in today’s connected world.
Whether your team decides to continue working remotely going forward, adopt hybrid working or return to the office full-time, here are some ways you can build a rich environment to keep your local identity alive within a complex matrix.
Implement company culture with a purpose
Culture is the glue that sticks your team together and is a critical part of any workplace. It’s not a case of waiting for it to gradually materialise over time; culture must be intentionally nurtured across an organisation and in a remote working dynamic, this is more crucial than ever.
For global organisations, a good place to start is by forming a local hub team committed to developing employee wellbeing and engagement initiatives that aren’t confined to a physical office. By restoring the opportunity for employees to connect on a personal level outside the office, staff are able to continue working dynamically and cohesively.
Achieving total buy-in to participate in cultural activities presents another challenge. Having a member of the local leadership team demonstrate the importance of culture by getting involved is a good way to encourage engagement. For example, a senior executive could send out weekly internal email updates or host monthly ‘ask me anything’ sessions to consistently foster inclusion and reinforce the importance of their staff to the business. Increasing the regularity of catch-ups and simulating social environments can also carry culture throughout a virtual workplace.
Integrating flexibility into workplace culture
A major lesson for traditional workplaces that didn’t allow for remote working before the pandemic is that it’s possible to remain productive under flexible work arrangements. However, understanding this is only the first step. The next is to recognise the different challenges employees may be experiencing at home, be it home-schooling children or caring for family members, and create a digital environment that reflects the diversity of home-life circumstances and rhythms.
To build a more holistic understanding of what this might look like, organisations can start with developing ‘working from home’ personas that exist in the workforce. Analysing these personas and adapting the set of expectations that apply to each will enable employees to feel they can contribute to the business on their own terms. For this reason, a flexible work culture is one of the biggest enablers of diversity and inclusion and can also open up the talent pool to professionals who are unable to meet traditional working requirements.
Expectations of professional development must also shift to meet the needs of a remote workforce. Prior to remote working becoming the norm, praise and promotions gravitated towards employees who were able to physically engage with their leaders. Now, it’s critical for managers to learn what’s required for managing and training their people remotely. The lack of visibility over an employee should not define their value nor warrant their exclusion.
Build a sense of community
An increasingly diverse work culture needs to be supported by resources relevant to each community. Firms like LogMeIn have developed a variety of employee resource groups to help address challenges and provide support with LogHerIn, [email protected] and [email protected] Programs to build communities that champion inclusion in the workplace still remain necessary for remote teams.
Providing opportunities for employees to participate in corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs is not only a good way to invest in the community but will also strengthen your organisation’s local identity. CSR will increase employees’ awareness of local challenges and priorities and provide them with opportunity for making positive impact on the community.
Being an employee of a global organisation is as much about demonstrating your locality as it is about being part of a larger vision. The key to unlocking the true potential of a remote workforce lies in a culture that celebrates diversity, flexibility and local identity.