The world of work has drastically changed and it has changed rapidly. Some companies, such as Twitter and PWC have adapted to this quickly and easily, stating that employees will be able to continue to work remotely long after pandemic restrictions are no longer in place. However, the majority of businesses haven’t, which has led to this period of the ‘Great Resignation’ and frustration with working practices.
Is remote work here to stay? Do companies expect a return to office working? Will hybrid working become the norm? These are the questions that have been continually asked over the past year since offices began to open their doors. Having been unexpectedly thrust out of offices and into bedrooms, kitchens and home offices, people were given the time to reflect on and take a step back from their routine and daily commutes. This pause allowed people to decide on the areas of their work which they wouldn’t want to return to and which they would – a return to the office five days a week, or even any, was one of these.
While the specifics of this new way of work are still to be agreed one thing is for sure, remote working is here to stay and businesses need to recognise this or risk being left in the past. However, with this new evolution of work, how do companies adapt to this and more specifically, how do they hire a remote workforce while maintaining a strong company culture?
It’s no secret that it is harder to manage people when working remotely, especially those who are new to the company. For businesses this comes down to two things, hiring workers who have greater autonomy and giving workers greater autonomy as first thought by Daniel Pink.
It is crucial in this age of working that businesses offer their workers and hire workers who have autonomy. HR teams and businesses need to look for conscientious, highly motivated people while also creating autonomous workplaces. By increasing employees’ autonomy, workplaces can become more productive and more personal while allowing individuals to develop self-reliance and resilience. If the managers don’t hover over an employee’s shoulder for every piece of work they do while in the office, this shouldn’t be replicated remotely. By encouraging autonomy a level of trust is built between team members and an understanding emerges of how different people can work in different ways. This in turn leads to a greater commitment to work and a sense of responsibility and ownership of the work, and therefore, more willingness and motivation to succeed.
Alongside allowing for greater autonomy, companies also need to learn to be output orientated, not input orientated. Managers who are input orientated look to the resources needed to accomplish a task such as time, money and effort and what needs to be done. Often, this style of management can lead to micro-management, with leaders more focused on the resources that go into a task as opposed to the outcome that can be created when employees are given responsibility over their own task.
On the other hand, an output orientated manager focuses on the accomplishment itself and the value that this brings into a business. This style is more open to allowing employees the freedom to be creative and utilise their different strengths and is more suited to creating autonomous employees and workplaces.
This need to deliver on work also creates the time and the incentive for managers to support newer employees. Instead of monitoring each worker for the amount of work they do each day, managers can invest in training and support programmes to help new joiners adapt to the new role, company and ways of work.
Once employees are given the freedom to express themselves in their roles and work in a way that suits, it’s then important that they understand how their work fits into the bigger picture. In short, employees need to embrace the mission of the company.
When working remotely this can be difficult but instilling a strong and clear company mission can increase motivation levels. This requires deliberate planning, optimising and communicating of what company culture is and what its values are. What is it that makes the company special? Why should employees be proud to work for the company? Businesses should make sure they are shouting this from the roofs and instilling this in new remote employees.
The shift to remote and hybrid working came as a shock to many businesses but as time passes this flexibility must become a part of every business if it hopes to retain and attract talent. Hiring remotely comes with challenges and teething pains but if business can create a remote culture that allows employees freedom and autonomy they can position themselves in good stead for this continuous evolution of work.