One of the biggest shifts in the world that has been brought about by this pandemic is the ways in which people work, how they interact, and where they work. Currently, the lines between office and work space are blurred - thanks to today's always-on, instant-access environment. As much of the global workforce continues to work remotely, the remote work culture has become more important than ever. People are rethinking their jobs and what they value in their workplaces as they fight for retention across the globe at the moment. It is crucial that employers rethink the way they engage employees, how they maintain a positive digital-first remote work culture, and how they foster a sense of belonging, no matter where an employee is located, so that they feel included, valued, and part of the larger picture.
Why is a strong digital-first work culture important?
Despite the fact that digital workplaces are the future, many are still trying to find the right balance between human and tech centered culture that will foster productivity and innovation. In the new workplace model, employees are able to work from anywhere and stay connected with their teams and employers, but at the same time, it poses many challenges, such as constantly being online, managing work-life balance, and developing social skills and peer learning in the workplace.
The past few years have seen the emergence of a number of freelance, open-source, and product marketplaces. The new generation of talent has a new focus on the company's purpose, mission, and work-life integration. Social networks and family are connected to them digitally, and they are comfortable working in this way. The purpose of an organization's existence was always important, but now it has become crucial to attracting and retaining talent. Learning opportunities are numerous, and it is important that organizations have an open mind to drive Innovation through bottoms up approach.
Digital technologies are changing workforce engagement
Globally, we are connected in real-time thanks to digital technologies. Despite this not being new to us, we are now in a position where we can leverage the power of true digital culture & shape the employee experience. To put it simply, it enables employees to learn & engage anywhere, at any time. What makes this so important for us? It allows employees to learn at their own pace and interact with their peers and colleagues directly without having to meet in person.
In light of this new change, HR needs to think of newer ways to engage employees since in-person interactions will be fewer. For the teams to bond and synergize, there must be more frequent informal channels of engagement & non work related communication. Culture adoption will require a new approach. Supporting a true digital culture provides enterprises with the flexibility and adaptability they have lacked in the past.
Reimagining leadership for post-pandemic workforce
Leaders will have a major role to play in ensuring the remote work model is successful. Having a great deal of trust in the team's capabilities, intentions, and commitment is an essential pillar of the remote work model. The key here is to focus on sharing "The Purpose" of the business. If they believe in what they do, employees with a greater sense of purpose are more likely to give more than 100%. Focusing on aligning the values of the organization will determine the level of talent engagement and commitment.
Key initiatives that leaders should focus on
HR leaders should focus on employee wellness initiatives and learning and growth. More and more employees are asking this question of what comes next as we move toward a distributed model of work. Now that we work in a remote model, learning through social interactions is also slower, as we have now started to work in a remote model. Remote work requires the ability to deal with difficult situations and to navigate ambiguity. Self-starter and self-learning skills are key to success.
Define how you work together
Flexible working situations may mean different things to different people in the organization. Assess your team's needs, expectations, what is reasonable and accordingly support them at various life stages. Researchers have also found that teams that are more engaged and emotionally connected work together more effectively. Establish a clear process for collaboration and communication.
Enhance asynchronous communication
Asynchronous communication is one of the essential elements of an efficient remote-first culture. By utilizing async communication tools, teams can benefit from flexibility, deeper understanding, greater collaboration, as well as productivity. With more async communication, team members have more time flexibility. It's easier to create a workday that draws out your best work and leaves the rest behind.
Prioritize unified communication
As a means to avoid the common pitfalls of remote-first workplace cultures, organizations should emphasize the importance of a single, centralized communication channel with diverse functionalities designed to create a unified culture resistant to loss of information.
Create a centralized knowledge base
A comprehensive, centralized knowledge base facilitates optimum functionality of all processes within this type of work structure. Companies seeking to promote and support a remote-first culture will need to create a knowledge hub documenting various processes, guidelines, and strategies that can be accessed virtually by all teams.
Find creative ways to keep people engaged
The key to fostering a positive culture is to keep remote employees engaged over time. Organise a virtual happy hour or a breakfast meeting where people from the same field can share their challenges. It may not even be necessary to hold a separate meeting - you can incorporate some of the team building activities into your regular calls, or start a Slack channel to share photos of your pets.
New Leaders may also adopt ways to informally connect with teams & open up their authentic self to align and commit. This goes a long way in building a strong synergy within the team.
Embracing the next chapter of work
Culture matters much more than you might think when working remotely. Positive & empowering work culture and good communication allows team members to excel in their tasks and reach new heights. It takes effort to synchronize the minds and working styles of people with different backgrounds, temperaments, and personalities. Whether you decide to go remote, hybrid, in-office, or digital-first, it is important that all organizations adapt to the remote digital world we live in.