Transformative Approaches to Rebuilding Remote Culture

R-e-b-u-i-l-d-i-n-g a Culture Remotely

As a remote team member, when was the last time your manager did a culture check-in? In times of intense pressure, sometimes culture is pushed to the bottom of the barrel, however “Culture is not and never should be a Dirty Word.” With the acceleration of remote work, some managers may have kept their culture in the bottom drawer of their remote office! If you want to preserve and build your culture remotely, you better keep it in good shape and exercise it daily! Successful companies embrace the concept of ‘cultural contribution.’

Remote culture failure can occur when managers apply the same rules for virtual teams as well as face-to-face teams. They don’t consider what’s different: a huge mistake! Small teams, well led, act with autonomy, build trust and invest in leadership, accountability and culture. Then, behaviours and attitudes align with this framework.

“I don’t believe that we will return to the way we were because we have found that some things work really well virtually”

Tim Cook Apple Chief Executive

“MORE” effort is requiredto maintain culture

A May 2020 article Working from home the future of work?” shows that for the last five years, an increasing chorus of engineers, designers and professionals are claiming that remote work is the future. One of the main issues however is that “more effort is required to maintain culture.” Management guru Peter Drucker once said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast,” and every company has a culture that’s influenced by the founder. Often, it’s implicit and unwritten and there is a lot more between the lines. It takes a lot more effort to keep the company culture when teams are working from home.

Identify Cultural Uncertainties

Start and look at where your remote team is right now in relation to culture! Is bad behaviour, misconduct and misalignment with values evident? Do you have a blame culture? Spend some time asking the right questions. Courage, kindness, trust and culture are critical, ensuring a high performing organisation at every level! MyblogGreat Checklist for the Managers of Remote Workers” shows that the current pandemic adds a new layer of uncertainty to even the most seasoned remote workers making managers feel uneasy. They not only have to adapt to a new working style, but also try to help their staff cope as well. If you’re managing a remote workforce, this checklist will help you make sure you have your bases are covered overall including culture: 

·     Get Your Technology In Order

·     Set Goals

·     Foster Trust And Engagement

·     Promote And Maintain Healthy Work And Life Practices

·     Communication

·     Encourage Social Interactions And Fun

·     Administrative And Contractual Considerations

Time to rebuild the Remote Culture

Indie Bollman comments in a September 2020 article “Repairing & Rebuilding Company Culture in a Remote Work Environment” that as remote work was suddenly thrust upon organisations, businesses at large scrambled to keep their workflow and their culture, moving along. For many, this sudden shift to a more remote work environment highlighted culture issues and challenges that may have been hidden or not seen as important in the real-world office. Issues with culture can reveal itself in many ways, from how well employees get along and support each other, to how they take care of customers. It also shows up in how disengaged employees are. Whatever the symptoms of cultural ailments you may be experiencing, you’re not alone; let’s face it, we all need to work at culture every day. Culture is not something you do once and it sticks and it’s never too late to start fixing it now.

Sustaining Remote Culture

The coronavirus pandemic’s office exodus risks diminishing company culture unless leaders take action to support it says Jennifer Howard-Grenville in her June 2020 article “How to Sustain Your Organisation’s Culture When Everyone Is Remote.” Themassive shift to remote work may change the office as we know it forever with some CFOs making plans to shed office real estate. With such a swift and large-scale exodus of workers from their offices, it’s no surprise that some feel nostalgic for even the mundane facets of office life: cubicle mazes, bad coffee, water cooler conversations! What makes office life meaningful for many, though, is that it helps sustain organisational culture — the largely taken-for-granted beliefs and practices that underpin how people work together. These are harder to feel and maintain when so many of us are crouched at a kitchen table, fending off children and pets, and growing exhausted with a constant stream of video conference meetings. This is how managers can ensure that valued aspects of the culture endure:

·     Make culture visible by calling it out

·     Welcome modifications to the cultural tool kit 

·     Use disruption to bolster the cultural core 

Culture is ultimately about the actions we take and make visible to others, and the meanings we invest in those — which is harder, but not impossible, to maintain from the kitchen table.

Leadership isn’t easy and sometimes we need help. I am always here.

Get in touch today to learn more about how to build leadership skills for a culture of courage and kindness at work and set yourself up for success!

Stay Kind. Stay Courageous.

Sonia x