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Before Covid-19, a great company culture seemed to require a shared physical office with perks like yoga studios and espresso bars. How do you create a flexible and engaging work environment when everyone works remotely?
ARTICLE | 6m read
December 9, 2020
Now that we’re all months into working remotely, the allure of shared offices can seem like ancient history. But for decades, pre-pandemic offices (4:32) were designed to be so full of perks that employees would never want to leave. These shared workspaces were key to how organizations built a company culture that fostered collaboration, boosted morale, and simplified recruiting. Today, most of us can only connect with colleagues through a screen and in-office perks like ping pong tables are only a memory.
However, our organizations still need a strong company culture that drives strong employee engagement. But how do you boost WFH morale and a shared employee experience when everyone at your company is apart? This question inspired the latest episode of the Remote Works podcast on remote work culture featuring AWeber Communications, an email marketing software company near Philadelphia. In this article, we’ll look at how to enhance your remote employee experience by listening, empathizing, and creating an engaging and flexible work environment.
So what does effective listening look like during a global pandemic? One point to remember is that strong leaders actively seek out employee perspectives instead of waiting for feedback to come in. As Chris Voce, a Customer Engagement Strategist at Citrix describes in the podcast: “Oftentimes people that are struggling might not be filing a support ticket. Those are your silent sufferers, and a lot of it’s invisible unless you ask.” This kind of active listening can happen in one-on-one meetings, in company-wide surveys, and in targeted employee panels, so look for the right way to ask how your remote employees are feeling.
THE THING THAT SETS ADVANCED ORGANIZATIONS APART IS THEY WERE EMBARKING IN EMPATHY-DRIVEN ACTIVITIES. THEY WERE FAR MORE LIKELY TO BE DOING THINGS LIKE EMPLOYEE JOURNEY MAPPING EXERCISES, APPLYING DESIGN THINKING, AND ITERATIVE PROCESSES TO IMPROVING EMPLOYEE EXPERIENCE.
Customer Engagement Strategist
Once you’ve begun with active listening, developing empathy with remote workers is the next step toward a strong remote work culture. Remember all your remote workers are individuals, each of whom have unique needs and challenges. Some have kids with them while they work from home, so they might need to step away from some meetings to attend their children. Others live alone, so they may benefit from extra one-on-ones to avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness. By listening you can get a clear picture of what employees are feeling and how they want to be treated, helping you to then lead these remote workers with effective empathy.
In addition to reactive acts of empathy, it’s vital for company leaders to be proactive in driving employee engagement. According to Gallup, the strongest motivators for employee engagement are less about the quality of your office space and more about how employees are treated and valued. One important way to do this is by coaching remote workers to see growth in their work and professional development. As Voce describes: “There’s a reason why you and I go to work every day. Pay is part of it. But the most important thing is somebody’s ability to find personal progress in their work.” Look for ways to show your remote workers how their abilities are improving and the ways their work has positively impacted the organization as a whole.
WE ENSURE THAT OUR TEAM MEMBERS HAVE ALL THE RIGHT EQUIPMENT. SO WE PROVIDE THE EQUIPMENT FOR THEM IF THEY DON’T HAVE IT, MAKE SURE THEY ALL HAD THE PROPER DESKS AND CHAIRS AND EVERYONE GETS COMPUTERS AS WELL TO MAKE IT AS SEAMLESS AS POSSIBLE FOR THEM.
Chief People Officer
While each employee’s work from home environment is unique, company leaders should do what they can to create a flexible and engaging environment for all remote workers. As Bear details above, make sure all your remote employees have the equipment and technology they need to be effective in a home office. It’s also useful to provide an internet stipend so all remote workers have access to high quality broadband for the best possible work experience.
But beyond curating a productive work environment, you should also look for ways to build shared community among remote employees. This requires some creativity, as you can’t rely on the team activities you used to do in a brick-and-mortar space. Instead, engage your remote team in shared virtual experiences that encourage different ways of thinking and connecting. For example, Bear described how her employees took turns teaching their teams fun skills like how to pickle vegetables and how to build an electric bicycle.
Strengthening your company culture without a shared office space demands listening, empathy, and creating a flexible working environment for remote workers. To get ideas for how you can build a productive and happy company culture for flexible employees, listen to the podcast episode.