Work culture is a constant evolution. And as we’ve witnessed throughout the pandemic, adaptability is perhaps one of the most useful attitudes we can use to overcome the relentless force of change.
One aspect of life that has certainly seen dramatic change over the past few years is the office. The rapid onset of remote work culture has changed the way we perceive work entirely. Jobs that were once never considered for at-home operation are now defying expectations with ease. Causing some people to ask, "what took us so long?"
We all know that there are pros and cons to working from a remote, online setting. Communication can become harder, tensions can rise, or the dreaded Zoom fatigue can settle in.
However, many studies have concluded that overall, the flexibility that remote work culture facilitates often outweighs the problems it causes. Employees report feeling generally happier, more productive, and more satisfied with their position when working from a remote setting.
At a time when both employees and employers are catching on to the benefits that online workplace culture can provide, knowing how to navigate this new way of life is essential for sustaining momentum.
Any company that manages remote teams needs to deploy an updated strategy to create a healthy online workplace culture that keeps everyone happy and productive.
1. Encourage work/life balance
Balance has been a big buzzword across social media channels recently — and for good reason. Achieving a work and life balance helps us to manage stress levels, stay mentally and physically active, and maintain better relationships with the people around us.
Companies who want to promote a healthy online work culture will need to set the tone for balance by encouraging and openly discussing its importance.
Employees who are feeling burned out and exhausted often don’t want to speak up for fear of getting reprimanded or falling behind. They need their leaders to not only acknowledge the importance of a balanced lifestyle but also create opportunities for them to exercise it.
If an employee approaches their manager or supervisor with a concern about workload, anxiety levels, or medical limitations, those issues need to be taken seriously.
2. Create more opportunities for connection
As more and more people adopt either a hybrid or completely remote position at work, relationships between colleagues may likely suffer.
It’s natural for people to grow apart when they spend less time together. But when those people are collaborating on a project, that growing apart needs addressing for everyone’s sake. Organizing situations in which employees can bond and reconnect will help to diffuse tensions and improve workflow.
3. Invest in human resources (or people/talent) management
Human Resources is the pillar that holds up so much of a team’s weight. And over time, that weight can become overwhelming. HR has taken some serious strain over the past two years in particular as employees wrestled with anxiety, exhaustion, and general life instability.
Now is the time to invest in HR departments. HR reps don’t always get enough credit for the work they do, and too often have been excluded from a formal seat at the table. They know what they’re doing, so give them the tools necessary for creating the meaningful changes they envision.
4. Evaluate technology and processing
Two years after the pandemic, we’ve fallen even deeper into the seemingly omnipotent black hole that is technology. Using technology to maintain and grow your company is an inescapable reality, and learning how to work with it rather than against it will help your business and work culture to thrive.
Taking a good look at what kind of technology you rely on the most and what kind of access your employees have to it is an important aspect of running any business.
A team that works predominantly online needs to have access to the right tools and equipment from home to do their job well. Evaluating your business culture of technology and seeing where you can make improvements or adjustments will pay off well in the form of sustained efficiency.
5. Foster a culture of belonging
As much as 40% of employees feel a sense of physical and emotional distancing from their coworkers. This feeling of isolation is no doubt exacerbated by the various lock-downs and social distancing protocols of the past two years, and it’s high time we tried to repair the damage.
A sense of belonging is a powerful thing that companies need to promote within the workforce for improved employee engagement, happiness, and productivity.
You can do this by creating a psychologically safe space, checking in with employees, and giving voices to those who are underrepresented.
6. Redefine your workplace culture
We are where we are now — there’s no going back. Work culture and traditions of the past are no longer relevant to the way workspaces are being conducted today. Businesses need to adopt new methods if they are to provide employees with the healthy, thriving work environment they deserve.
Creating a positive workplace culture now requires a fresh perspective on priorities, ideas, and strategies for optimal cohesion. The key to igniting the changes necessary for a healthy online workplace culture lies in the redefining and reworking of what we’ve previously understood about it.
Although cultivating a healthy workplace culture from within the confinements of online working may seem daunting, there are many resources, tools, and methodologies to help keep your eyes on the prize.
To optimize your culture-enhancing initiatives, leverage technology to your benefit and make sure that those in charge of HR are well supported in their pursuit of employee satisfaction. Encourage teams to collaborate, communicate, experiment, and adjust alongside this new way of life.
Leaders of all kinds need to step up and elevate the efforts of those around them. More than anything, we need strong leadership and accountability to maintain healthy online workplace culture.
This is a guest post from Andrea Vargas. Covering topics from small businesses, marketing, and management, Andrea provides entrepreneurs with actionable insights. When she’s not writing, you can find Andrea enjoying milk tea, tinkering with code, or playing with her dog, Rufus.