Remote Work Challenges

When we conducted our research, questioning CEO’s on the challenges, for their teams, in working remotely for the whitepaper Remote Work;The CEO Perspective, we discovered two very interesting things;

  1. The number of employees working remotely,post-pandemic, looks set to double – at least – compared to preCovid rates
  2. That the key remote work challenge, for CEOs, with 60% of the vote, was Managing Culture

More and more businesses are announcing they will permanently allow remote-work flexibility, beyond the pandemic, we wrote about this here.

Employers are choosing a Hybrid Remote Model

Increasingly – particularly for bigger businesses – the transition they are making is to a hybrid model rather than a fully remote working model which, for many organizations can feel like a leap too far.  A hybrid model combines the best of both worlds – the flexibility for workers to optimise their creativity and productivity by choosing where they work, for different kinds of tasks, the lifestyle freedom to ditch a regular commute and consider moving out of highly priced urban areas, work-life balance freedoms due to flexibility in hours and reduction in commute time.

Hybrid Working Gives The Best and Worst of Both Worlds

However, hybrid also combines the worst of both worlds – if employees are still expected in-office on a regular basis, employees can find homes within a wider commuter belt of the office, but don’t have full flexibility to live anywhere.  Work-life balance can be more challenging than ever to achieve, because of that always-on feeling of working from home, and employees can feel obliged to be in the office due to peer pressure rather than selecting their best environment based on the tasks at hand.

But most challenging of all – having some employees in the office and some at home can risk creating a two-tier model in which those working remotely can feel like second class citizens.  For employees unable to work from home due to space and family constraints, or due to the nature of their role, it can feel drastically unfair that their co-workers seem to be “living the dream.”  For employers, they have access to a wider talent pool – widened by geography, but not to the totally open-talent pool that fully remote companies can access.

Managing a Remote and Hybrid-Remote Workforce

Furthermore, switching between office and home environment can itself be challenging, without the right tools and technologies in place to ensure access to all documentation from any location.  But a bigger problem lies in the heart of the challenge CEOs say they are already facing, and which will only get more challenging for hybrid remote businesses – how to manage culture.  Managing culture in a remote workforce requires deliberate, intentional, well documented processes and constantly iterated behaviours.  Fully remote companies adopt processes, systems, “ways of doing things” that  are constantly addressing and reinforcing the culture of the company because there’s a recognition, from the top-down, that it’s vital to continually perpetuate culture in a remote company, across all the actions and behaviours in order for it to thrive.

In remote-hybrid businesses however, this is more challenging.  Remote businesses adopt specific ways of communicating for example, which align with the fact their employees are remote and often on different time-zones – asynchronous communication becomes the de facto in remote companies and continual documentation is the life-blood on which they thrive.  In Hybrid companies however, employees have the opportunity to have those serendipitous interactions, in the office, over the water cooler.  An excited conversation about a new idea, hatched in the office and then relayed, after-the-event, to those members of the team who are remote on that day, lacks the energy and passion for those who are involved, “after the event” – the idea will feel like something foisted upon them, not like something they were a part of creating.  This goes one of two ways – either employees start to feel like they “need” to be in the office, to be a real part of what’s going on, or they feel disenfranchised, isolated, and lack the sense of belonging so vital to keeping them engaged and motivated.

Managing Company Culture in Hybrid-Remote Business

Managing the company culture, in remote-hybrid (or hybrid-remote) businesses then becomes the number one priority.  How do you avoid making your remote or partially remote workers feeling like second class citizens? How do you maintain their morale, commitment and loyalty?  What are the best practices, being deployed by leading companies who are crushing it on the culture-front?  How do you avoid the knowledge loss and potential for silos associated with having some or all of your staff working remotely, at different times?  What are the vital daily and weekly structures that will help your business navigate this challenging transition?

Join us for our next webinar: The 9 Critical Actions to Maintain Company Culture in a Remote Working World

Luckily, we’ve got you covered – we’ll be addressing all this and more in our next webinar session, on Thursday 19th November at 12pm Eastern Standard Time.  Brett Putter, author of Culture Decks Decoded and Own Your Culture will run through the key steps you need to take to manage your company culture and adapt successfully to a remote or hybrid work environment.

Sign up (for free) here.

The 9 Critical Actions to Maintain Company Culture in a Remote Working World

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White Paper DownloadRemote Work: The CEO Perspective

Read invaluable insights into how businesses are managing the sudden increase in remote working, catalysed by Covid19