What is the work culture?
While many companies think the ideal work culture is about having ping-pong tables, PlayStation 4, or happy hours, the real work culture is much more profound. Building a team culture requires much more than building shared experiences, and it requires a more in-depth effort. Although ping-pong tables are quite beneficial for a positive workplace, building a real work culture provides more benefits to the companies and the professionals.
Gallup defines work culture broadly: "The way work gets done around here." After the pandemic definition should be rewritten like this: “The way work gets done from home.”
The biggest companies had been taking advantage of having their own organizational culture for many years. These companies hired top talents and made the best of their teams, and employees had the benefit of working in an environment built on trust and procedures. It seems like everybody was winning until the COVID-19 outbreak. Still, after the COVID-19 pandemic, leaders of both big and small companies have problems building a company culture that will be transferred to the future. The big question is, “How companies will change or adapt their organizational cultures to the post-pandemic era?”
The “New Normal” – working from home
Long before COVID-19, lots of new-age companies or startups were having the advantages of working remotely. At the moment, the most significant companies like Facebook and Twitter have announced their remote working models, some companies like Amazon and Google see remote working as a temporary model, and some are planning to work in hybrid models from now on.
Despite the new working models, companies, leaders, and HR teams now have the ultimate challenge in front of them, and that is sustaining or adopting a positive work culture while implementing social distancing rules. A million-dollar question: How to bring a team together? Let’s see the ways of building a company culture.
How Do You Build A Work Culture In A Company Remotely
1- Physical and Psychological Safety Above All Else
Traditionally, most companies secure their employee’s physical well-being by switching to a remote-working model when it is feasible. However, most of the companies don’t have time to focus on their employee’s mental well-being yet. It is crucial for employees to feel appreciated and feel like they are part of the remote work culture.
One of the biggest challenges that leaders or HR teams should consider is the loss of human connection in professional life. The social relationships can be sustained with open-air, socially distant public meetings, or with new high tech entertainment devices. Considering these new activities, Google recently announced that the company would provide its employees a $1,000 Work-From-Home allowance. Allocating a budget for working home might be a small but effective way to appreciate your team’s hard-work from home. With the budget, employees might consider designing a comfortable area at their home as their working environment. Or they might use their budgets to invest in new ways to create engagement within their teams.
2- A Work Culture Built On Trust
When asked what advice he had for leaders thinking into post-COVID-19 work cultures and the future, Edgar Schein advised: “Leaders must show that with complex, messy, systemic, interconnected problems like responding to the Coronavirus or the next pandemic, collaboration must escalate as a central value in producing new, better and innovative adaptations.”
Work culture is slow to change, and if you had a healthy culture before the pandemic, you would most likely have less trouble adopting the changes because of the COVID-19. Yes, the expectations will shift both from the company and the employees. The key to satisfying new expectations is to communicate to create your community. Encourage secure connections between employees and your company. Communicate frequently to understand their needs and troubles.
It is all about communication. To hold people accountable, be open about your company’s values, and creating connections built on transparent information will get your work culture through upcoming years.
3- Developing Leadership That Has Agile Decision Making Capability
How to manage remote teams?
The importance of management styles is growing. To improve remote work culture, leaders must be more transparent and inspiring when communicating. Ideal leaders should support remote team collaboration. It’s easier for leaders to articulate shared goals and to create a sense of community when people work in an office environment. Or it is easier to spot the changes in the performance of employees. How to build a strong team at work when everybody is at home?
Being just and inspiring while setting goals and keeping business on track is not easy. According to the article written by Sid Sijbrandij on Wired, working in a hybrid model would cause unfair competition between remote and in-office employees. It can be hard for executives to maintain objective relationships between team members working from home and members working from the office.
Being open to change, creating shared leadership, encouraging secure connections between employees, defining core values, setting personal or team goals are essential specifications of a post-COVID-19 leader.
According to Tracy Brower, “What’s new is leaders have become even more critical in shaping employee perception and engagement. Leaders matter to work culture because people tend to focus on leaders and draw conclusions about company culture based on their position and their choices. When companies recognize or promote leaders, they are endorsing that leader’s behaviors, values, and approaches—for better or worse.”
4- Focus on Talent
Hiring during a pandemic is a significant challenge for a lot of HR teams. Since you lose most of the benefits of face to face communication while talking on screens, it is essential to understand what to do when hiring. Before asking “what you can bring to the team,” it is crucial to set new standards during the recruitment process.
Remote communication might be challenging with a new team member. You can even have communication problems with a colleague you had a close relationship for years. It is vital to work with people who can be flexible and have the ability to communicate clearly and effectively. That is why in the COVID-19 pandemic era, it is crucial to hire based on character, not skill-set.
In the new normal, hiring based on company values and work culture has gained more importance. Before publishing a job advert, companies and HR teams should focus more on telling what their work culture requires and who makes a better teammate for their company.
5- Learning, Measuring and Reflecting
Last but not least, measuring and keeping track of the steps you have taken to maintain or improve your work culture is essential. By measuring through online surveys, you can see where you started and what improvements you have made during the pandemic. Never forget, those who have healthy, managed, constructive work cultures will discover a new resiliency that will help them recover faster from upcoming threats.
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