The pandemic gave millions of people a taste of working from home. Now in its aftermath, companies are saving costs by closing offices and developing their remote workforces. How can companies build a culture of collaboration and cohesion among teams when we no longer can gather to snack in the kitchen?
Ciara, one of MaCher’s designers, has been fully living the ‘work from anywhere’ life for three years. In December 2019. she took off to travel the world. Since then, she’s lived and worked everywhere from Austria to Zanzibar, with a near-two-year lockdown in New Zealand as well.
Since the pandemic, companies have come to trust colleagues to get work done outside of the physical office. Now, more employees are able to take advantage of this flexibility. Whether it is to see the world, live closer to family, save on the cost of living, or for myriad other reasons, ‘working from anywhere’ is a new and growing trend.
Watching out for false economies
Companies might save money on buildings and rent. Without the right structures in place, however, they could spend a lot more in other areas.
In a traditional workplace, inside knowledge about processes and history passes down face-to-face. With a more remote workforce, these details might need to be codified to ensure this important company knowhow gets shared.
Companies also need to establish new systems that engage and encourage collaboration among employees in different locations and across time zones. Establishing trust and building company culture through computer meetings requires prioritizing communication and building personal connections. HR capacity and team-building takes and investment of time and effort.
Culture doesn’t have to go away, it is just likely to be different
As noted by researchers in Harvard Business Review, company culture doesn’t disappear in a remote working environment. However, research does show that being physically close supports more meaningful interactions between people. In a remote world, we need to create the cultural beliefs and company norms differently and align systems and routines to an online environment.
By blending the virtual and physical, companies can build the right new culture that they need. Regularly reaching out to colleagues through different kinds of online meetings and fun events like virtual happy hours will encourage engagement. If costs allow, physical get togethers at certain times of the year will also cement friendships and further build trust.
Products help people to feel part of a team
Products and gifts that integrate the company and help create a comfortable and focused workspace can also help colleagues to still feel part of a team while at home or away. Welcome gifts for new starters or occasional treats for everyone help to reinforce company brand and culture. Ciara carries a number of MaCher-made products like a gadget case, journal and a foldable tote bag, everywhere with her. “It is little tokens like my mobile phone sleeping bag that make me smile and remember that I am part of something much bigger, regardless of the time zone I am working in”, she says.
The right approach, communications and commitment to developing a remote team culture, backed up by in-person time and products that cement a physical sense of connection, can all help to ensure ‘working from anywhere’ can still mean that people feel they belong somewhere.
If MaCher can help create products to support your company engagement plans, we’d love to help. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.