Culture, Future Of Training, Relationship & Collaboration

Is Remote Work Culture Replacing Office Culture?

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There’s a lot that we might be missing, as we continue living the “new normal” that the Coronavirus crisis has brought with it. Taking off for a spontaneous break interstate or overseas, for example. Going to big conferences or large-scale sporting events is another one. And what about the social norms we’re missing by not going into the office with our colleagues every day? Is remote work culture now replacing office culture?

What aspects of your workplace culture have quietly been slipping away since the transition to working from home began? Perhaps you’re starting to notice the negative effects of the change in work culture from office to remote workforce?

The ability to work remotely during these unprecedented times has saved many businesses. For many, an internet connection, a telephone and a computer are all that’s needed for them to do a productive day’s work. And as a short term solution during a worldwide pandemic, remote working has been more successful than many organisations could ever have imagined. 

However, as we approach the five-month mark of coronavirus restrictions and world leaders discuss the likelihood of a ‘second wave’ as lockdowns lift, remote working for many people has changed from a temporary solution to a permanent way of doing things. What impact is this having on corporate and workplace culture?


What is workplace culture?

Workplace culture, like community culture, is a mix of history, values, beliefs and behaviours that should be seen ad understood from the top of the organisation in the senior leaders all the way down. It manifests in how we communicate with each other and with those outside the organisation, how we interact, celebrate success, react to failure and work together as a team. 

PwC’s 23rd CEO Survey from this year describes how a strong workplace environment elevates organisations – Organisations are competing for key talent and skills, and so an investment in the ‘whole’ employee experience is integral. The benefits of upskilling programmes; stronger corporate culture and employee engagement, higher workforce productivity, improved talent acquisition and retention, differentiate organisations out in the marketplace.” 

What is a good culture in the workplace?

Similar to community or national culture, a good culture in the workplace fosters openness and personal growth. A sense that  ‘we are part of something bigger than ourselves’ is important for the motivation to strive for shared success. But individuality should also be celebrated. Everyone has something to contribute, with a unique set of strengths and weaknesses. 

The right workplace culture can be difficult to achieve at the best of times. However, the challenges of remote working have made it even harder. 

KPMG predicts that, “Working remotely…won’t dissipate quickly – rather, remote working (both part-time and full-time) will rise across all industries.” In fact, “Work will be regarded as a thing you do, rather than a place you go.” 

So, with more employees than ever working remotely, how many are missing the benefits of good workplace culture? We need to bring these elements of positive office culture into a remote work culture.

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3 signs you need to improve your remote work culture

1. Employees seem distant and slow to react

Many of the elements that make up our office culture are the check-ins, communication rhythms, celebrations and acknowledgements from our leaders and peers during the course of the day. When teams are working remotely, this can get lost. People become disconnected, disengaged and slow to respond.

Now we are working from home, people are craving these feedback loops and connections more than ever.

We’ve spoken to many clients recently who have been working around the clock, constantly needing to pivot and change. Prior to COVID-19 their contribution and dedication would have been called out and commended. An acknowledgement during a chance passing in the hallway, a 1:1 catch up or a monthly divisional meeting. But during these stressful times, these meetings and individuals development plans have been put to the wayside, in order to concentrate on survival. Leaving some team members feeling unappreciated. Many personality types thrive on being shown gratitude and thanks for their input, make sure you reinstate the important check-ins to ensure your team feel acknowledged and appreciated.

remote work culture leader phone call

2. Virtual team meetings lack engagement

Virtual meetings, which were once an occasional occurrence, are now daily. The novelty of Google Hangouts, Zoom, or Microsoft Teams has well and truly worn off. How do your colleagues appear during remote team meetings today? Are they contributing? Are their facial expressions tired or bored? Perhaps they’ve switched the video off altogether.

remote work culture staff on video meeting

3. Productivity and performance levels are dropping 

Despite statistics suggesting that remote working improves productivity levels, for some people the self-motivation just isn’t there. They need the camaraderie and shared experience of going to work and interacting with colleagues face-to-face to feel energised to do their job.

Going back into the office won’t just solve these issues. We’ve heard of excited clients excited who were keen to get back into the office and experience some ‘normality’ who have walked away feeling lonelier. The weird atmosphere and inability to interact with colleagues without being wary has tarnished this ideal. Who knows when and if the traditional offices will return as they were before. 

If you’ve noticed deadlines being missed, a drop in quality or anything else relating to performance, it’s a sign you may need to audit your organisational culture and review if a remote work culture has been considered. This is the work that we do, contact us to discuss your needs and ensure your team stays focused, connected and supported in isolated work environments, for however long they may last for.

The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.


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