Opinions expressed by Contractor the contributors are theirs.
As the effects of the pandemic become more cemented in our world of work, businesses around the world must adapt to the new circumstances. More than ever, employees are choosing to work from home and many employers are supporting the change. Google, for example, offered $1,000 to employees to create a better workspace from home. Twitter announced at the start of the pandemic that it would provide the option to work from home indefinitely. But when the structure of the office changes so significantly, what happens to the corporate culture?
Despite the inevitable challenges of managing a remote team, this changed landscape provides the perfect opportunity for the culture to improve.
Virtual workplaces require deliberate action
When employees are working remotely, management is unable to physically observe body language. Communication cannot happen by chance – there is no water cooler, no rest room. This leaves room for problems, as employees may pretend to be busy or happy when they really aren’t. Communication must become a deliberate act.
In the office, you may have spotted a frustrated or silent employee, talked to them and found out the cause of their problems. From behind a screen, however, we may never see a frown. Employees have time to think before answering a question. Each answer is prepared. Each interaction is filtered. Therefore, you should do all you can to ask each employee how they are feeling, if they need help, or if they have any questions. On the positive side, it gives you the opportunity to really get to know them. Be intentional, and your conversations can be far more meaningful than the small talk in the break room ever was.
Related: Growing Pains: How To Turn Tough Times Into Periods Of Immense Personal Growth
No commute means more time
An important part of a worker’s routine has always been the commute, but that was lost at the start of the pandemic. With all that extra time and nothing to do, many found themselves more productive. Time normally spent commuting to and from the office has become time to think and work. It became incredibly beneficial. Many people have realized that there is often no need to travel at all and they can do more work from home with better quality. The traditional office nine-to-five job really feels like a thing of the past, and business seems better for it.
Better and wider communication
Employees working in different geographic regions existed long before the pandemic. Many companies have a solid foundation for merging teams into different spaces, but it’s getting easier with ever-improving technology. Thanks to a vast landscape of digital programs, it’s just as easy to connect with someone halfway around the world as it is with someone near you. Employees in Europe feel just as close as those in the United States, and that really makes the organization tighter as a whole. Due to technology, it seems the more apart we are, the closer we can get.
Related: Why aligning raises with reviews will boost job performance
Find time to have fun
Just as remote work forces workers to be deliberate in their communication, it also challenges them to be deliberate in the opportunities that can be created to relax, get to know each other, and have fun. Management needs to think more seriously about how to connect their entire team. Every employee is different and unfortunately there is no guide on how to have fun. The measurements taken here depend on the workforce. The important thing is that managers should make employees feel like part of a group, even if they never physically meet a single co-worker. Some remote teams have monthly sessions where they play games, answer questions about themselves, and get to know who they work with. Whatever you choose to do is all about making those connections.
Culture doesn’t just exist in business. It is constantly evolving, and with a catalyst like Covid-19, it is set to change dramatically. Rather than fear a loss of familiarity, the new face of business has presented each of us with an opportunity: we can redefine culture in our own images. Through deliberate action and communication, increased productivity, and a focus on uniting your team, you have the opportunity to shape your company culture for the better.