Pandemic: Problem or Potential? Maximize Your Remote Work Potential
Covid-19 has hit us hard and the end is not yet in sight. There are many ways company cultures are adapting and changing during this time. We’ve found 3 ways to save company culture while doing remote work.
3 Ways to Maximize Your Company’s Remote Work Potential
Covid-19 has hit us hard. From the stock market crashing, travel restrictions, and mask mandates, our world is hardly recognizable. Just months ago, wearing masks would be considered crazy. Now, we don’t leave home without one. Businesses have suffered during this time; some have been entirely shut down, and others moved to an online-only workplace. We’re adapting (in our respective ways) to these challenges. Each company or team reacts differently to Covid restrictions, but one thing is clear: the world (and business) will be forever changed.
It’s clear this pandemic is lasting longer than most of us expected, and the end is not yet in sight. Companies are adjusting rapidly to extended Covid restrictions- as are employees. With the new virtual workplace, it’s crucial for management teams to adjust their expectations and approach to company culture. What may seem like a problem can actually be a huge potential to change our culture for good.
Here are three recommendations to capitalize on your firm’s company culture while doing remote work:
#1: Embrace Innovation: Innovation comes from within
The Covid-19 pandemic is a new experience for all of us- and one we’ll look back on for years to come. Rather than let the pandemic derail the workplace momentum, companies can use this time to encourage innovation. And luckily, the best innovators may come from within the firm. Managers are always trying to hire the best workers and thinkers- so let’s put that to use! Employees know their workplace better than anyone else, and learning from their successes and failures can lead to new ideas and workplace practices.
To learn from employees, we need to hear from employees. There’s no replacing good old fashioned listening- but data can be a close second. Harvard Business Review states that surveys can be used to predict human behavior more accurately than fancy algorithms. There’s no need for expensive programs or AI technology- the key to unlocking innovation can be a short email or a link.
Consider new ways to ask better questions. Employees are eager to have their voices heard and create better working conditions! Giving them a platform to express concerns, triumphs, and failures facilitates managers and employees to unite towards solutions.
It’s essential to follow-up on the information received. Employees with positive remote work experiences can help motivate others around them. These employees can act as intrapreneurs (the slightly less well known little brother of entrepreneurs). As Forbes describes, intrapreneurs create change from within the firm, using existing structures and resources to improve the company. With new remote work situations, these intrapreneurs can help pivot company culture to maximize productivity.
Connecting with employees can allow management to identify these intrapreneurs and capitalize on their momentum. With remote working conditions, perhaps some unexpected intrapreneurs might pop up!
#2: Focus on the good- Remote work can increase productivity.
With all the division in the world, a unified company culture can help employees- and boost productivity. Despite all that has happened, it’s crucial to realize the good that has come of this new challenge. In spite of everything, many managers have found productivity has increased since working from home.
Take a look at this data from Cotopaxi founder Davis Smith describing his team’s feelings towards working from home:
- 67% of our team felt much more or slightly more productive WFH, and only 8% felt slightly less productive.
- 77% reported that they were working a little more (1-3 hours) or a lot more (4+ hours) at home.
- 86% said they would prefer to work from home at least most of the time.
Smith wrote that, originally, he was “adamantly against” working from home, but due to Covid precautions, switched his workplace to remote work. Months into the remote work experience, he’s changed his tune. In his own words, Davis Smith writes, “I simply no longer see a meaningful benefit to asking people to come into an office every day and actually see real benefits to working remotely.”
It’s clear that Cotopaxi isn’t just making the best of a bad situation. They are actively benefiting from and adjusting to remote work- long term! And they’re not the only ones. Top tech companies, and many others, have rolled out plans to make the workplace more remote in the future. These firms are experiencing the same phenomena Davis Smith described. Research from Stanford University showed a 13% increase in performance from remote employees, while a study from Mental Health America in conjunction with FlexJobs found that 97% of people believe that flexible work would improve their quality of life. These are powerful numbers, and management teams are taking note.
Take a look at a few firms that have embraced remote work.
- Twitter: CEO Jack Dorsey announced all employees could work remotely indefinitely if they choose to.
- Facebook: CEO Mark Zuckerberg said he expects up to 50% of the company’s employees will be working remotely in the next 5 to 10 years.
- Shopify: The company announced that employees would be allowed to work from home indefinitely.
- Uber: The firm will be giving employees a $500 stipend to set up a remote office and letting employees work remotely until June 2021.
- Zillow: After pushing out their remote work timeline, Zillow announced employees could work from home indefinitely.
Not every workplace has the capability to so easily adapt to a distanced workplace, but examples like Cotopaxi, Facebook, Twitter, and more give us a hint at the incredible future we have post-Covid. The workplace may look entirely different than we’re used to- and it may be even more productive than before.
Clearly, there’s something we can learn from working from home! Challenge your management team to evaluate what remote work habits can remain after things return to “normal.” Listen to your employees! For Davis Smith, and perhaps for you, the answer may look like nothing we’ve ever seen before. One thing is clear: remote work is here to stay, and it’s up to us to make it as effective as possible. Check out this blog post from Blaast for more tips on maximizing efficiency with remote work!
#3: Focus on people- Keep connections alive in new ways
Work isn’t the only thing that’s been disrupted. Our social lives have also been put on hold, our vacations have been canceled, and significant moments downsized during this pandemic. And without the workplace and other social activities, Covid-19 can be a lonely time for many. We’re collectively experiencing an unprecedented era. Luckily, technology has allowed us to continue working but, perhaps, more importantly, continue connecting during the pandemic.
It’s true- reaching out has new meaning when we’re no longer face to face. There’s no longer the deskmate next to ours or our work BFF to run into on the way to lunch. But even with no physical proximity, these relationships endure- with a little more work and care. It’s time to develop new traditions to add to our company cultures!
Here are a few ideas for affirming a positive company culture during the pandemic:
- Volunteer as a team in the community.
- Nothing brings people together like service! In a national survey, 81% of employees reported that service activities in the workplace strengthened their connections with co-workers. Whether it be in-person in a socially distanced setting or individuals contributing to a team goal, volunteer work makes us happier, more productive and creates unity between team members.
- Virtual book club (or any virtual club!)
- With remote work, employees’ schedules may be more flexible. It may just be the right time to start your office book club. What better way to unite employees than with a book of the month? Reading the same book can help teach teams new skills and unify company culture, even with the distance we’re experiencing. For more ideas on the logistics of starting a work book club, check out this helpful article. Above all, make the experience enjoyable for all, and encourage everyone to participate. Watch your team grow and share their insights with each other!
- Executive collisions
- When we’re out of the office, we’re no longer casually interacting with team members. But even seemingly small interactions like a compliment walking down the hall or a warm smile can do a lot to build relationships with employees. It’s important to replicate these interactions- remotely! Some ideas to stimulate these positive “executive collisions” could include a personalized text/email, sending a care package, or some other thoughtful interaction. Management teams can coordinate to ensure each employee is personally contacted. This type of check-in goes a long way to uniting employees and appreciating their work, even without in-person recognition. Sometimes, it really is the little things!
- Social distanced small team activities
- When team members reside locally, it may be possible to have casual small team gatherings- following local and national public health guidelines, of course. This can be a great way to reconnect after months of remote work, meet new employees or team members, and remember the good still to come when the world stabilizes.
- Monthly manager lunches
- Assessing employees’ progress has become more difficult with remote work in some ways. Training can also be more complicated while working from home. Depending on your team’s situation and local guidelines, an individual or small group lunch with a manager can help motivate employees, provide training and goal alignment, and bond team members and executives in a new way. It’s also a great way to hear employees’ concerns in a candid setting and set the example in remote working productivity. Depending on the size of your company, this article provides a few suggestions on how to scale your lunch program.
We’ve listed just 5 potential ideas here. But there’s no limit to the creative solutions we can find in this pandemic to help us reach our fullest remote-work potential. Let us know what you’ve seen in your remote work experiences!
Potential and Possibilities
The Covid-19 pandemic may have created more problems, but along with the struggle comes the potential to change company culture for the better. Firms can use this opportunity to transform the workplace into a brand-new opportunity to engage with our co-workers and communities in new ways. What may seem to be an insurmountable problem may become the catalyst for some of our best innovations yet. By encouraging innovation, looking for the good, and uplifting employees, companies can refine their company culture throughout this period of remote work and beyond.