Companies have seen a drastic shift in how they work over the past few months. Many are closing their offices through 2020. Others are saying employees can work from home for the next year. Some have even shuttered their brick-and-mortar for good, opting for an all-remote workforce.
This begs the question that any many job seekers must be curious about when they’re looking for a new job: what about the company culture? What happens when employees go from working within the same four walls to working from anywhere with an Internet connection?
With remote workforces becoming larger and more common with each passing day, companies have to work in different ways than they had in the past to retain a positive work culture.
This article will provide some tips and strategies for maintaining work culture in a work-from everywhere world. Just because remote employees are physically apart, it doesn’t mean they cannot have a shared set of values with each other.
What Is Company Culture?
Before we get into maintaining your company culture with a remote workforce, let’s get on the same page about what company culture actually is.
Chad & Cheese — Chad Solash and Joel Cheesman “from HR’s Most Dangerous Podcast” — recently discussed what company culture is with Douglas Atkin, former global head of community at Airbnb, and former partner in chief community officer at meetup.com.
Atkin explains that although many C-level executives talk a big game with regards to company culture, even though they don’t fully grasp what it is when defining it.
What happens when employees go from working within the same four walls to working from anywhere with an Internet connection?
A big impactful business decision, like acquiring another company may make financial/business sense in the short term but can destroy work culture in the long term.
As Atkin describes it, “It’s basically a sort of rich social soup with many ingredients in it. But basically it’s the result of all the millions of interactions between people as they decide things together, interrelate with each other, engage with each other, all those things.”
In that sense, work culture is a shared set of values that the entire company workforce simultaneously contributes to, and adopts. Although everyone in the company partially contributes to work culture, it truly stems from the top leadership and permeates throughout the entire workplace community.
Values and Purpose Moving Forward
The shift to remote workforces has made companies reflect upon their values, and decide what they’d like to maintain for culture as employees work from home. There are some important questions decision-makers need to ask themselves before looking to implement or transition pieces of work culture home.
- What was our work culture? Was it well defined or was it more amorphous?
- Were there aspects to our work culture that we’d like to purge or reinvent?
- What do we want our work culture to look like in 5 years?
Before migrating what “has always been” a part of the work culture home, it’s important to reevaluate what was good about it in the first place, what can be improved upon, and where it should evolve.
Communications and Fun Interactivity With the Workforce
Business owners and company leaders who are concerned with brand identity and work culture have an overarching fear. That fear is that any employee of theirs could be working in any other company and it wouldn’t make a difference. A fear that all that made the company a unique and attractive place to forge a career is gone. And, all that is left are the numbers on a paycheck.
These fears may be irrational in some ways, but if no effort is made to maintain work culture, undoubtedly some employees will look to find it elsewhere.
This is why keeping clear communications, encouraging creativity, and reinforcing work relationships are more important than ever.
Thankfully, many innovative virtual peer-bonding events have arisen during COVID, and it has allowed businesses to promote work culture and interconnectivity.
Here are a few examples of these types of activities:
- Brand-specific events – Companies can source virtual events that best match their employee’s tastes and brand ideology. For example, a graphic design company might mail paint kits to their employees for a company-wide virtual paint night.
- Non-virtual events – Meetups outdoors where safe social distancing measures can be taken, and employees volunteer to join in.
- Team gaming – Some fun competitive on-line gaming between divisions or departments to add some excitement to the workday.
Assembling the Right Teams for Your Work Culture
Although work culture stems from the top and ultimately is an extension of brand ideology, as Douglas Atkin says “it’s the result of all the millions of interactions between people as they decide things together, interrelate with each other, engage with each other, all those things.”
Perhaps the most critical piece to keeping a healthy work culture alive in your company is recruiting the right people to work there.
It’s confusing for some, but creating a healthy work culture is not binary at all, and it’s not always about hiring the most successful or qualified people to fill each position. It’s about sourcing the RIGHT people for the open positions at the company.
Someone may check off all the right qualifications, but may not match up well with the company culture the business is trying to maintain.
This is why it’s critical to qualify candidates properly with reference-level job descriptions and recruiting practices. If the company’s job visibility is low, and the flow of candidates is low, the company will have fewer options and be forced to recruit individuals who don’t fit the mold of the company culture.
Google for Jobs is one of the most powerful recruiting resources on the planet, and businesses that align their recruiting efforts with it have a greater chance of finding the right candidate to help contribute to the work culture, in our out of the office space.
What is Your Company Culture Like — and How Will You Improve It?
Company culture can be an abstract concept. But staying true to your company’s mission, hiring the right people — not just the right skills — and being transparent with your staff are critical to maintaining your culture, particularly in the age of remote work.
What are you going to do to make sure your company culture continues to thrive?