By Joanne Lucy, Managing Director at Major Players
We know that a huge part of talent isn’t just about hiring, it’s about keeping your employees engaged, motivated and aligned with your company vision.
Traditionally, company cultures have been developed and nurtured within an office environment and whilst some businesses have been leading the way on the future of working, the covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the need and desire for flexible, home working. As business leaders and team managers we all now face the challenge of how best to lead remote work forces while continuing to cultivate a company culture.
At global conglomerates like Amazon and Google, managing remote teams is ingrained in what they do, encouraging flexible working around the globe fostering vital work life balance and trust with their employees. Suzie Cuddy, Technical Recruiter at Amazon, who leads a remote team across several locations, says, “cultivating a healthy company culture is essential for any workplace to thrive as it improves your ability to attract and retain talent, allows you to engage with your employees more meaningfully and ultimately improve their performance.”
Now more than ever, employees are looking to leadership for cues on quality of work, professionalism and workplace culture. Through recent conversations we’ve recognised that doing this well can be broken down into four main pillars: leadership, communication, professionalism and technology.
Aligned leadership is crucial in ensuring that everyone feels comfortable with this new way of working, particularly defining why, what and how. Leaders also have a responsibility to demonstrate these new working beliefs, reinforcing behaviours and expectations within their teams.
- Communicate to your teams about the company objectives (short and long term) and reference how their work is important in achieving these
- Ensure your teams have the support and equipment they need including tech, training and wellbeing
- Set expectations and trust your team – focus on results rather than activity
- Understand your colleagues working environments (i.e. children, parents, flatmates etc.) and ensure appropriate personnel know so that the correct support can be provided
- Maintain a virtual open-door policy, encouraging employees to engage with you regularly
“Leadership is no longer about telling someone what to do”, says Jack Gratton, Chairman of Major Players. “It’s about coaching and nurturing and working towards a common purpose. This must manifest itself in everything you do to maintain consistent messaging and one must live those principles.”
Staying connected is key to working together while apart and so ongoing communication with your teams and colleagues is imperative. What happens organically in an office environment needs mindful effort when working remotely and by having effective communication channels set up, will improve collaboration and help build trust.
- Schedule in daily virtual huddles ensuring everyone stays connected with their colleagues and teams – be sure to set clear objectives and be precise about action plans and expectations
- Introduce weekly roundups with the wider business to re-affirm company objectives and celebrate successes
- Share information as much as possible and encourage everyone to do the same – remember, opportunities to pick up passing information are more limited
- Be mindful that you may need to tailor your communications as people can be more sensitive if they are feeling isolated or anxious
- Organise informal one-to-ones to check in on people’s well-being and to get their feedback
- Encourage out of work activities that allow informal ‘office chatter’ to take place, increasing rapport and positively developing relationships between colleagues i.e. company quizzes, bingo etc.
Nicole Pruner, Associate Lead at Google says, “Over communication is not a word in the work-from home-vocabulary. Moreover, it’s vitally important that you give regular praise and feedback to your employees. This is essential for raising morale and ensuring everyone remains motivated to achieving their (as well as your business’s collective) goals.”
Creating a professional environment is essential for keeping employees focused and allowing them to produce quality work. To mitigate distractions, institute a standard of professionalism from the get-go, and communicate it with your employees.
- Agree and demonstrate expected ways of working, ensuring each team member is clear about how you work together, how to communicate effectively and what is expected of them
- Establish a clear approval process to keep the standard of quality in work
- Help your team set clear boundaries between “work” and “home” as it’s always tempting to be available – help create simple routines such as updating slack statuses and calendar blocking, it’s also important that those boundaries are presented to clients too – extending ways of working to external stakeholders is important
- Set up a mentoring programme to encourage professional development and employee connectivity and interaction
- Once these are in place – instilling mutual trust, ‘checking in, not checking up’
Thanks to ever evolving technology, the global work environment has had a massive shift in the last few years and changes are accelerating faster now than ever before. Whether it’s through team chats or video calls, technology can help close the distance between colleagues and home offices.
- Ensure that everyone has access to working technology that they would have in the office i.e. laptop, phone, access to remote servers etc.
- Use video-conferencing tools for meetings – this helps everyone feel like they are in the same “room”, and allows people to read body language and facial expressions
- Set rules about technologies you use and how they should be used – this help builds a foundation for effective communications
Nicole Pruner adds “Give your employees the freedom to be flexible with technology. For example, not every meeting requires people to have their camera on, nor be sat behind their desk. This freedom will allow your employees to form authentic connections with the technology and you’ll benefit far greater from it.”
So, whether you’re working from home requirements remain temporary or whether you’re building it in as part of your future work policy; tackling the challenges brought on by virtual teams gets a little easier with well thought out leadership, communication, professionalism and technology.
If you need additional support and help with developing your company culture, then do get in touch with us on +44 (0)20 7836 4041 / firstname.lastname@example.org.