With the pandemic hit, most companies made the decision to send their workers remote and adopt a more virtual way of operating their business and evolving their corporate culture for the time being. While many entrepreneurs thought this would be a temporary adjustment to keep their staff and customers healthy, a remote or hybrid working environment is being sought left and right by many employees now. This has created quite a dilemma when it comes to maintaining a consistent corporate culture.
Often, many employees used to join and stay with a company due to the corporate culture that has been established and maintained. However, we are currently facing the biggest “quit” phase in the USA, with employees leaving their jobs for a new one that offers remote or hybrid work. This herein lies the problem. How can you as a business owner maintain a corporate culture that establishes loyalty, trust, friendship, and a good working experience while also meeting these new demands of remote or hybrid work where it is very difficult to build and maintain corporate culture? It’s quite the dichotomy.
While some companies are adapting to meet the new requests of their employees, some companies are having their employees come back to their offices or corporate headquarters. No matter what side of the fence you are on, you can’t make everyone happy. There will be employees that don’t like the remote work, crave interaction with their coworkers, desire to get up every day and commute to their workplace to have a clear line between their work and home life while there are others that have enjoyed the freedom and flexibility that is allowed in a remote working environment. Whatever your company decides to do, we still don’t know what the long-term effects will be on the corporate culture in a long-term hybrid or remote workplace.
It’s going to be an interesting few years as we figure this all out. While you are meeting, debating, and hearing your employees out on what work environment they are going to have moving forward, it’s important to know potential pitfalls and areas you will need to create a new way of doing things to maintain a sense of corporate culture while working remotely.
One of the biggest items we have discussed so far in our company is the lack of “unscheduled meetings”. For instance, times in the break room, out at the picnic benches, impromptu lunches, simply all disappear as the opportunity to run into someone isn’t going to happen in your own living room. These times for spontaneous chit-chat often snowball into creative ideas, meaningful conversation, and relationship-building opportunities. In some cases, you might even hear a conversation going on at the end of the hall and take a moment to join in, with everyone leaving on the same page or invigorated at the very least. For us, these unscheduled meetings are a huge part of our corporate culture.
In a hybrid or remote environment, do you have ways you can have a spontaneous conversation? A meeting place set up where people can drop in for a quick chat before moving on to the next task? For instance, our white label company has a Channel in Teams set up called the “Water Cooler” for these spontaneous free five to ten minutes where people from different departments like white label SEO services, PPC, and SMM can come and talk for a few. We created an environment that mimics our literal water cooler in the break room where we would catch people from other departments for check-in and a quick chat. It’s important, especially in a hybrid environment, that you don’t have people feeling left out from this behind-the-scenes conversation that is happening in person where a remote employee has no opportunity whatsoever to join in.
Consider how you can maintain unscheduled meetings in a remote/hybrid workplace so you can maintain this crucial aspect of corporate culture moving forward.
After doing regularly scheduled meetings for over a year on Teams and/or Zoom, we have all gotten used to meeting up virtually internally and externally. However, a true corporate culture roadblock is how you are going to do your internal meetings moving forward in a hybrid environment. Here are a few things to consider as your company adapts to a new way of conducting business.
- In a hybrid environment, say half of your employees are working from home and the other half are in the office. How will you host your internal meetings? Will the in-house staff be gathered in the conference room while the rest join in on a tv?
- Will everyone join the meetings virtually from independent workspaces, in and outside of the office?
- If you do gather your in-house staff in one room, will the virtual attendees have a full view of everyone? Of any notes being taken? Will they have adequate ways of being heard and voicing themselves throughout the meeting?
The main objective in these meetings is to make sure everyone still feels part of the team. That they are heard, and they are active participants of the meeting. Keep these things in mind as your business adapts to a hybrid workplace.
Coaching and Promotions
While we figured out how to work remotely in rapidly changing times, remember you are still asking a lot of your management team when your business continues to adapt to a full remote or hybrid workplace. Managers were accustomed to a certain way of touching base with their team members, keeping their employees accountable and on task, etc. when working in person. Some managers were probably making do with a “new way” with the mindset that it was temporary and once everyone was back in person, they could go back to their smooth, efficient way of supervising and managing.
Now that your business is adjusting to a hybrid or full remote workplace, make sure your management team is all in agreement on how things are going to be done moving forward when it comes to coaching, training, and promotions. Also, make sure your managers are comfortable with these new standards and hear them out if they have any input on how to improve or if there are any issues that may not be sure how to resolve on their own. Remember, it’s your company and your management team lean on your wisdom for how you want the company run moving forward.[bctt tweet=”Get their input, meet as a company, have everyone be heard. Make this a public discussion within your company so you can make plans to maintain your corporate culture that keep everyone on board and happy” username=”ThatCompanycom”]
Some items to discuss as a management team may include:
- What happens if you see a team member multiple times a week, some only a few times a month, and some never as they are fully remote? Will the person with more face-to-face time get preferential treatment? Or be in line for the next promotion due to camaraderie that is built by in-person interactions?
- How will inner department training and coaching be conducted? Will you meet as a team virtually? Will some be in the same room while others connect virtually? Is there an established time every day/week/month that your team will meet, collaborate, bond? Establishing these new guidelines for departments will help maintain aspects of your corporate culture.
Looking beyond day-to-day meetings and regularly scheduled check-ins, and training, how are you going to establish and maintain areas of team building? Where people in different departments can work together on a project or fun weekly games to maintain bonds and friendships?
After nine months into the pandemic, a Pew Research survey showed that 65% of employees felt more disconnected from their coworkers than from before. As most entrepreneurs know, a disconnected employee has a much higher chance of quitting than one that is immersed in corporate culture and connected with their coworkers.
As you make plans for your hybrid or remote workplace, consider what team-building activities you did in the past. Were they all in person? How will incorporate your out-of-office personnel in team building in a hybrid environment? What will you do for a fully remote team? Team building is crucial for maintaining a happy, engaged, loyal staff.
Shadow Culture or Misperceptions of Corporate Culture
The last thing we are going to bring to your attention for you to deeply consider moving forward is the establishment of shadow culture. This can be a true corporate culture killer and something you want to do your best as a business owner to avoid.
What is Shadow Culture?
The shadow side culture, as defined by Gerry Egan, author of Working the Shadow Side, is all the important activities and arrangements that do not get identified, discussed, and managed in decision-making forums that can make a difference. While not all shadow culture is bad, think about the perspective that remote employees may have on what the day-to-day office life is like. What perception are they building from what they see posted in Teams channels, in-person meetings, or fun office life photos posted on Slack? They will begin to make assumptions based on what they do (and do not) know about what is going on at the office.
Behind these posts and photos, of course, there is plenty of hard work going on, interactions that are missed, and perhaps even a dispute or two that simply isn’t seen or heard about by the remote staff. What your remote staff doesn’t see begins to form a “shadow culture” in their mind, a perception of the reality that is not reality. These perceptions can leave employees feeling disconnected or disengaged which can lead to a higher turnover rate.
While as a business owner you can’t control what people think, you need to keep this in mind as you move forward with hybrid work. You want your remote staff to feel just as included as your in-person staff.
Conclusion About Establish Corporate Culture in a Remote Workplace
While we may have thrown a lot of questions your way about what you need to think about moving into a hybrid or remote workplace, you may feel a little overwhelmed with it all. Remember this, you have a great team around you, managers that care, and employees that are committed. Get their input, meet as a company, have everyone be heard. Make this a public discussion within your company so you can make plans to maintain your corporate culture that keep everyone on board and happy. We wish you the best as you move your company forward in every changing time.