Remote work has become the new norm as COVID-19 forces companies across sectors to temporarily close their doors. For many individuals, that means redefining the line between work life and home life when the two suddenly seem to have merged.
Frontline employees and leaders alike are now educating children while answering emails, setting up “offices” at dining room tables, and relying on laptops over professional desktop devices. This sudden shift has left many leaders asking, “How do I manage my teams from afar?” For those of us used to hosting impromptu brainstorming sessions, quick cubicle conversations, and other face-to-face interactions on a daily basis, it’s normal to find managing a remote team to be uncomfortable, daunting, and even ineffective — but it doesn’t have to be.
Leaders shift and shape cultural beliefs during times of calm and moments of crisis. But how do they show up differently as leaders to drive desired cultural beliefs when “showing up” looks completely different?
Here are three straightforward, effective steps for managing company culture from afar:
1. Take Big Actions
Visibility and clear, consistent communication are vital when managing a remote workforce. Replace phone calls with video chats, send company-wide communications daily rather than weekly, and make the “why” behind desired cultural beliefs more apparent than ever before.
Amidst the current climate, these cultural beliefs have become more vital than ever before. Some organisations are well into the flow of hosting weekly fireside chats discussing the status of the company’s operational updates as well as catching up on what’s going on each others lives.
Employees ideally are encouraged to ask questions, share ideas, and simply just connect. These highly transparent conversations foster a greater sense of community among the remote team while underscoring the need for out-of-box thinking and innovation at this time.
2. Shape Beliefs in Every Meeting
Before diving into your virtual team meetings, ask yourself, “What belief do I need my team to hold by the time they leave this discussion?” When working remotely, your “face-to-face” time with employees is limited, meaning it’s important to be intentional about the time you have together digitally.
Effective leaders step into a meeting and own the results they hope to achieve. They say, “Let’s maintain our 95% customer satisfaction rating during this disruption.” Or, “Let’s improve warehouse staff safety efforts by 10% amidst this health crisis.” Then they outline how these goals can be accomplished, leveraging the virtual tools at their disposal to visually and impactfully depict the elements within their team’s control.
For example, we’re seeing leaders across sectors using digital whiteboards and interactive presentations to engage their teams and boldly communicate their goals. This guidance, particularly during times of chaos, provides employees with a clear picture of the company’s current objectives and sets the tone for future engagements and initiatives.
3. Leverage The Virtual Experiences
Every virtual meeting is an opportunity to create new experiences — whether through storytelling, feedback, recognition, etc. — and intentionally cultivate your company culture. There’s no question about it — the shift from the city office to the home office is challenging.
Many of us have had little time to prepare and, like our employees, we’re redefining new routines and best practices. But remote work doesn’t have to mean your company culture suffers. Through bold, consistent communications, clearly defined organizational objectives, and the intentional cultivation of experiences, we can create healthy, meaningful company cultures from any location and for any period of time.
Marina Bleahen, is a leadership, culture and engagement expert who with her team at Business Works Consulting deliver virtual Culture and Accountability training programmes.
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