What started as a crazy, farfetched idea that no one believed would work has morphed into a global phenomenon with the help of a pandemic. I'm talking about remote working. Before 2020, only about 6% of the workforce actually worked remotely. Just two years later, nearly 50% of the US workforce works remotely, at least part of the time. Remote work is here to stay and offers a wealth of benefits like saving commute times and costs, access to a larger pool of talent, and a greater sense of autonomy. But with all its benefits, remote work can cause a breakdown of company culture and reduce the feeling of human connection.
According to a Gallup Poll, "remote employees are seven percentage points less likely to see their connection to the company's mission. And for those individuals with an absolute preference for working in person, the disengaging effects of remote work can be as serious as 17% lower productivity and 24% higher turnover."
Two significant challenges remote work brings to company culture are a lack of connection and disengagement. Sitting alone in your home and chatting with your co-workers through Slack and email does create an environment of isolation. This is why it is imperative that companies are intentional about creating a thriving, connected workplace culture. When employees feel a sense of belonging and connection to their workplace, productivity increases, turnover decreases, and loyal grows. But how can you create this kind of culture for your remote teams? DH has had an entirely remote workforce for over 10 years, and we know a thing or two about improving workplace culture, so we can help.
The lockdowns and restrictions that began in 2020 allowed us all time to be still and quiet. We were no longer rushing to work, then back home, balancing calendars, and squeezing activity into every minute of the day. The reset button was hit, and as well tried to adapt to "the new normal," we finally had a moment to reflect on our choices in life and work. Am I doing what's important to me? Am I spending my time meaningfully? Am I living authentically true to myself? Many people discovered that their passion and purpose did not align with their jobs and lifestyles as they answered these questions. We saw this play out in the Great Awakening as millions of people quit their jobs in search of something more meaningful and fulfilling.
Everything starts at the individual level, with the "ME." When employees start at the "ME" level, they are able to answer, "What's in it for me?" This helps to define their Purpose and Values. As employees discover their passions and purpose, organizations must adapt their people strategies to value individuals as their authentic, whole, purposeful selves. This means creating a culture where everyone is encouraged to show up as their true selves without fear. When people are able to be authentically true, they feel happier; this is where happiness and humanity come together.
When an organization is aligned in its passion and purpose, individuals and the organization work together to live the values and behaviors that allow the passion and purpose to thrive, we call this the "WE." On the "WE" level, we are able to answer "What is in for all.” When employees can see their individual purpose is represented in the organization's purpose, they feel connected and valued. The collective work towards an aligned purpose will multiply the impact, stimulate growth and increase profits.
Often companies that attempt to implement workplace culture initiatives fail. This can be for many reasons, a failure of commitment from leadership, a lack of buy-in from the team, but most often, it is a misalignment of values and behaviors from the org itself. For example, if an organization states its purpose is positive wellbeing and mental health but does not implement strategies to encourage employee wellbeing and mental health, they are not living by the values and behavior that support the purpose. Values and behaviors are the way the ME and WE purpose is lived. When purpose, values, and behaviors [PVB] are lived together, they guide all decisions and clearly define the character of the people and the company.
Regardless of where your employee work from, [the office, home, or a combination], the key to creating a thriving workplace culture is embedding PVB on the ME and WE level.