A remote workforce puts pressure on organizations to change the way they approach company culture. The reality is that culture will continue to evolve regardless of your organization’s input, but without encouraging proper accountability and modeling meaningful engagement, the change may not result in the culture you had hoped. Here are two practices that should be considered due to closed or even partially open offices:
Accountability for the Work Product and the Work Process
When thinking about accountability, a first thought is often about ensuring that your team’s goals are achieved on time. Equally important, however, is keeping team members accountable for their work environment. There are three considerations when recommending appropriate work environments:
- Have a dedicated workspace. Your organization should encourage team members to have a dedicated, separate workspace rather than sitting on the couch or, even worse, getting work done sitting in bed. Not only does this have a negative effect on posture and overall psyche, but it makes you less efficient than sitting in a proper chair, preferably in front of a table or desk.
- Identify and model work-to-home transitions. Encouraging and modeling clear work-to-home shifts are the next vital step to intentionally developing your organization’s culture. With a commute and separate office, the ability to spatially transition from the office to home created a clear break from one environment to the other. Unfortunately, working from home has eliminated those physical and mental boundaries. Encouraging physical changes when making the shift away from work, such as changing into and out of “work clothes” when you start and finish the workday, can help instill that physical shift.
Modeling a strict working timeframe will also encourage your organization’s team members to set mental boundaries for an appropriate workday. Using tools like the “Delay Delivery” in Microsoft Outlook when sending emails past traditional office hours sets an appropriate expectation for the rest of your team members to respond within usual working hours, even if you need to work late into the evening.
- Establish and commit to a daily routine. Ultimately, your organization should be promoting multiple daily routines as part of your work plan. Children are not the only ones who thrive off a disciplined schedule. Routines like consistent sleep patterns and a strict work-life balance are important for circadian rhythms. A consistent routine can provide a sustainable, enjoyable work-life atmosphere, even during these tumultuous times.
Results are an essential end goal to a good work plan but focusing on productive environment, transitions, and rhythms of routine are the best way to ensure those results. By doing this, you’re also promoting a positive lifestyle for your team and consequently, enabling them to delight your clients.
Increase Virtual Connection and Opportunities to Engage
While a healthy routine is important for your team’s mental and physical wellbeing, it is also responsible for much more. Consistent rhythms can provide those much-needed connection points for healthy social engagement. As an organization, make sure that you are intentional to bridge the “distance” gap in as many ways as possible. For large staff meetings, increase the frequency from monthly to weekly in shorter durations. This allows the team an opportunity to touch base with one another and your leadership becomes more visible and present.
Implementing Unified Communication tools (learn more about utilizing the proper tools for your organization here) promote increased connectivity more efficiently. When in-person meetings are no longer an option, opting for video calling rather than an audio call when possible is the next best form of physical communication. Video meetings can seem inconvenient with the hassle of setting up a camera and taking time to make yourself presentable but setting the upfront expectation of a video call for scheduled meetings ensures everyone is prepared. It also allows for the participants to have a face-to-face conversation, which in times like these is truly valuable and often less frequent.
Casual communication within your organization should also be encouraged. Promoting informal communication tools like Microsoft Yammer allows teams to have a clear distinction between work and recreational conversations. Individual team communications have a digital substitute, which can be helpful in simulating teams which may have occurred naturally in an office setting. Microsoft Teams utilizes Channels, which allow each team within your organization to communicate using a variety of communication tools.
Although creating culture is ultimately not dependent on the decisions of your organization’s leaders, providing the accountability and resources to cultivate connections among a team are some of the strongest strategies for producing a unique and positive culture. Technology does not have all the answers but it is positioned to be the means by which we are still able to come together, even though we are physically apart.