We are all remote workers now and as we get used to this situation and try to do our best as employees, there seems to be one major roadblock across the working world: Our organizations simply are not equipped to handle remote work.
Employees are struggling with decreased work-life balance, low focus and concentration, and mental stress. Everyone had very little time to adjust to remote working and to get used to what it entails. These are tough times and the focus of employers had been on getting the work done to survive. Establishing a remote work culture was naturally sidelined.
Now as this stretch becomes longer, organizations are trying to come to terms with the idea that remote work culture is more than providing resources to work from home and conducting virtual employee engagement activities. They are just about getting to the conclusion that their job now also includes building communication channels, foster interaction, and making sure the organizational culture stays strong.
TCS is a great example of an organization that earlier had 20% of its employees working remotely but due to pandemic has 90% remote employees. TCS has managed to do it brilliantly in a very short period through an operating model it calls Secure Borderless Work Spaces (SBWS). This model allows companies to deploy virtual workplaces smoothly while getting the best out of their talent ecosystem. Having a model like this makes the big shift to remote working easy for TCS.
TCS further aims to permanently enable 75% of its workforce to work remotely by 2025. Dell and IBM have also encouraged remote working and aim to continue it after the pandemic.
In light of all these developments, we have put together eight ways you can do this for your organization to make sure you preserve and propagate the culture you so carefully built.
- Address Basic Needs: TCS did not wait for pandemic to pick up the pace and instead sent its employees home with all the resources they would need to work remotely. Freshworks went a step ahead and provided an allowance of 250 dollars to its employees to purchase ergonomic chairs, furniture, larger monitors, etc. It is an organizational need to ensure your employees have everything they need to work remotely. Provide internet connections and/or reimbursement for the same, computers, and necessary office supplies so that your employees can focus on managing work life balance and not worry about resources.
- Set Realistic Expectations: Employers need to be clear about what they expect from employees. Do they expect employees to work for regular hours, or can employees choose? Communicate what is expected out of employees clearly, and set deadlines that are feasible for employees. Also, be clear about leave policies, and especially for travel or vacation leaves.
- Encourage Team Collaboration: Team collaboration is a key aspect of remote working and requires setting up effective communication practices. Microsoft Teams saw an increase in the number of users from 560 million to 2.7 billion at the starting of the pandemic. Companies are aggressively investing in these tools. It is easy to adapt communication tools such as Microsoft Teams or Zoom and train employees to use them effectively. A thing to note here is that employers need to define schedules clearly and take some time out for team building activities to ensure that your employees do not feel left out or exhausted with too many meetings.
- Hire Employees to Strengthen Teams: Companies like Amazon, Walmart, Instacart have hired more than 100,000 employees in 2020 to sustain work quality during the pandemic, and many more are hiring virtual employees to strengthen their teams and ensure proper work distribution. You can do this too. Your remote hiring strategy needs to address the issues of physical constraints such as written assessment and face to face interviews effectively. Employers can easily hire culturally fit candidates by using imocha’s online recruitment tools and make their remote hiring process just as effective and accurate as regular hiring.
- Encourage Feedback to Improve Strategies: According to leadership training expert Dan Bobinski, millions of dollars are lost by organizations due to poor listening. Hence feedback is essential to address the needs of employees and support in distress. To understand what employees have been doing to manage their work, conduct a survey, and ask for feedback often. Feedback can help reduce confusion among teams and employers can keep a check on how aligned every employee is with the company culture.
- Have a Culture Deck: Like Netflix, making your company culture public is also a great way to communicate values with employees and everyone who is associated with your organization. Acceleration Partners Culture Deck, Tech Asia, Grammarly, HubSpot Culture code, etc. are some of the great examples of communicating company values.
- Appreciate Often: According to Gartner, work-wellbeing has a huge impact on psychological safety, and any unpleasant experience can negatively affect psychological safety by up to 35%. Be it a small certification course or a degree, or even a work-related achievement, tell your employees how every achievement counts for the organization. It has a positive impact on the mind of an employee and every small appreciation increases productivity directly.
- Inspire Creativity and Innovation: Creativity is only encouraged by providing flexibility. Companies like Google offer scheduled free time to their employees. It can be a practice to emulate. Tell your employees when they have to be online and give clear deadlines in advance so that they can plan their breaks and work easily. A little free time can help employees overcome their creative block. Help employees establish remote growth plans and encourage personal and professional growth through various upskilling programs.
You can also conduct sessions with experts in the organization or the industry to exchange knowledge and ideas that can help less-experienced employees work better.
All employees want is to feel the enthusiasm of their team and see their work making an impact. Remote working need not diminish these two desires. If employers can provide a virtual platform, space, or place where employees and employers can come and work together, you can ride out these times with ease, and at the same time producing great work.