It’s difficult to sustain a unified culture when most of your employees regularly work from home.
The ‘hybrid work’ approach to work has been proven to greatly affect company culture. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) and PwC’s Global Culture Survey found that employees who remotely work felt more excluded and found it hard to sustain a sense of community with their officemates. One of the challenges included the survey results showing the majority of the employees preferring the same approach in the following months. “Overcoming these issues and fostering a cohesive culture in which employees can participate meaningfully whether at home or at work requires leaders to take specific steps to foster a connected, inclusive, and productive environment”. Here are three steps:
Step 1. Understand your culture and how it relates to explicit behaviours
Understanding your company’s current culture should be your first priority. Given the significant shift in working styles over the last few years, it’s critical to assess the organisational culture—” the points of pride and strengths in an organisation’s culture, as well as the challenges they present—to gauge employee perception and see what has changed”. Then, identify the “critical few” behaviours that you want to see people engage in more frequently to improve performance and connection. “Reinforcing a culture need translating any proposed changes down to the level of individual employees’ day-to-day behaviours”. Leaders should set the example.
Step 2. Create the idea physical environment
Consider the office layout. Companies must examine the current environment to determine how well it supports various types of work. Many factors of workplace design are driven by habit rather than deliberate thought. Almost every physical aspect of the office can be modified to make it more conducive to the work-from-home setup. For instance, Online whiteboards for meetings, and virtual receptionists that help bridge the gap between virtual and in-office workforces. “Even after investing in technology, businesses must evaluate it to see if it supports new behaviours—and they will almost certainly need to adjust this technology over time”.
Step 3. Provide appropriate support mechanisms
Finally, leaders must ensure that their employees are successful. These support mechanisms can take many forms. Organisations must understand important indicators such as employee productivity and satisfaction and invest in frameworks to evaluate this data over time to ensure that these mechanisms actually help.
The “new normal” approach to work represents a significant shift in how businesses operate, but it does not have to have a significant impact on their culture. Companies can ensure that they have the right culture in place for their employees to thrive, regardless of where they work, by taking some proactive steps.