If you’ve recently moved people to work from home (WFH), how well does your culture support it? Actually, even if the move wasn’t recent, the question’s still valid. For distributed and hybrid-working to work well long term, if you haven’t already, you’ll almost certainly need to focus on your culture. That’s why it’s at the core of Distributability, our model for high performing distributed organisations and teams.
Organisations that excel in distributed collaboration have a key competitive advantage, and with the recent move in so many companies to WFH, potentially long term, the stakes are high to get this right.
The benefits of WFH stack up, right? Increases in productivity, larger potential recruitment pool, better employee retention, better work-life balance (at least on paper) and so on. It’s a compelling list.
But beware. Yes, it can work superbly, but long-term, only when you act on ensuring your culture supports delivery of your strategy. Without some conscious focus, a significant move like shifting a large number of your people to WFH will result in your culture morphing, and not necessarily in a positive way. Organisational cultures are not static, they’re created day in day out by the way we do things, the way we ‘be’ around here. A move to having many no longer physically co-located has a significant impact on these day-to-day behaviours.
For many it’s simply the lack of social connection that starts to eat away at them. Helping people feel a part of a larger group, socially, even when apart takes focus and effort. It’s totally doable – heck, we’ve done it with plenty of organisations over the years – but it won’t happen all by itself.
Keep in mind too that under-represented groups are easily isolated, and before you know it, things like all that work you did on levelling the playing field on gender balance starts to skew. Why? Because without wishing to design this into the organisation, you end up with more women being remote compared to men, resulting in them being less visible and less heard. They miss out on the big career changing projects, promotions, and before you know it you’re back to having a predominantly male C-Suite.
So, key to getting remote right is consciously focussing on shaping your WFH culture. If you have a mix of co-located and remote employees, you’ll need to look at your hybrid culture too.
Knowing the path ≠ walking it!
Knowing what to do is the relatively easy bit. Getting people to change behaviour can be hard. And the longer you leave it, the more embedded behaviours become.
With 34 years’ experience in leading, managing and facilitating remote teams globally, clients draw on our significant breadth and depth of experience across multiple sectors. We can help both with developing the path that’s right for your organisation, and bringing the cultural changes to life, quickly.
Do get in touch if you’d like to know more about how we can help.