What happens when an old favourite buzzword meets a new buzzword that everyone is probably tired of hearing by now? You get a new workplace conundrum!
Back in March, many of us were thrown into the “Work from Home” (WFH) scenario. It had definitely been a phrase and a concept that Recruiters, HR, and Jobseekers alike were starting to hear much more of, pre-pandemic. As some people welcomed WFH with open arms, others were indifferent and some just could not, and still cannot, adapt to the total overhaul of the way we were all used to working.
Now, please excuse me for using one of the top 3 “most overused Covid-19 phrases” - but I think we are all in agreement that WFH will now be a big part of the new normal.
So, what does that mean for us all moving forward? And more importantly how is it going to affect company culture?
What actually is workplace culture?
Workplace culture can be defined as “the shared values and norms that shape behaviours and mindsets”. It is something that is at the forefront of every hiring manager’s and jobseeker’s wish-list. Whether that is shared work-ethic, certain personality traits or goals, the important thing is the cohesion between a team of employees.
Why is it becoming increasingly more important?
If your current work set-up is anything like ours at Richard Lloyd Recruitment, you will have some people in the office 4 days a week; some people working from home 4 days a week; and some people picking and choosing their days to be flexible around their commitments outside of work.
As many have noted, the way in which we work has completely changed, but as SEEK’s 'Laws of Attraction' study found, what we want from our work culture has not changed. Namely, collaboration, support and respect are still universal traits that we want to see from our companies, managers and co-workers.
Proximity used to be one of our main and most consistent “norms” and it is undoubtedly safe to assume that we all feel much more part of a collaborative, supportive office when the team are sitting right next to you. So, take that away and how do we keep the cultural values aligned?
How do we create and maintain culture moving forward?
It would be silly to suggest that there was a ‘one-size-fits-all’ culture so there is definitely not going to be a ‘one-size-fits-all’ answer to this question. It is about finding out what issues are important to your team and what solutions works best.
In terms of collaboration – it’s not as simple as walking up to your colleague’s desk and asking them a question; sometimes you’ve got to battle with phone-tag, multiple meetings and even lunch breaks when trying to get hold of your remote colleague.
Supporting your colleagues is more difficult as you probably won’t be lucky enough to have the whole team present and in person at morning meetings to celebrate successes and talk through development points together.
And I guess that leads us into the third trait – respect – which usually goes hand-in-hand with trust. When you respect and have confidence in your colleagues, their skills and competencies, you’ve got to trust that they are doing what they say they are doing. Specifically, pulling their weight for the team and completing tasks to the same high standard they would if they were in the office.
So, what to do next?
How to fix any problems in your culture exacerbated by working remotely is not exactly going to be a quick fix and will require ongoing efforts to keep it at the fore. Unfortunately, this is not an overnight solution! I have learnt some key things from our time working remotely and having the team spread across Sydney’s suburbs and these include:
Using technology to our advantage.
We use Microsoft Teams and have it open on our desktops and phones all day. When I need to ask my colleagues a question, I tend to call them via video, so it feels like a good in-depth face to face conversation like it would be in the office. It can take a little longer but has made me feel more connected.
Get clarity on where everyone is.
We’ve all noticed that with working from home, we have miraculously gained a few more hours to get some life admin done; personally, I’ve been able to enjoy getting my eyelash extensions in an extended lunch break. But at Richard Lloyd, we’ve agreed to make it absolutely clear which days we are working (currently on a four day week) and from where (office or home). If we are at home and have a doctor’s appointment / need to pick up the kids, whatever is taking you away from contact with the team, goes in the diary. That way we can all see when each other is free to take a call or meeting.
Find a fun reason to bring everyone together!
We have set up a Richard Lloyd Recruitment monthly ping pong tournament (in line with recommended NSW guidelines) in our Boardroom. It is a chance to get together, relax and get a little competitive, all whilst having some pizza and a beer or 2. It’s helped bring the fun back to what has been a stressful time for everyone.
I have found these to be some of the most workable solutions to maintain our tight workplace culture right now, but it is a constantly evolving practice. Culture is vital to keeping employees happy and attracting new staff, and this new reality has made it clearer than ever. Don’t ignore the stress felt by your team working from home should you want to sustain a good company culture.