Synchronizing the culture of communication when the workforce is remote
Any successful team requires the ability that its members can communicate their thoughts and ideas to each other. Sitting in a conference room, jamming along with each other, it is quite lucid to imagine how everyone can do it. But how to communicate with the team when it is fully remote? That is something employers are still scratching their heads on.
To find answers to this predicament, Sunil Setlur, Global Chief People Officer, GOJEK conducted an exciting session on ‘How to Sustain your Organizational Culture When the Workforce is Remote?’ where he shared his experiences of managing the workforce for remote setups for companies like Amazon, Google and more. Here are the excerpts of the sessions -
Ensure a homogenous work culture in organisation
In a remote culture, It’s very important to adopt a specific mental model. Sunil recommends a ‘long-distance relationship’ mental model where the communication has to be ‘obvious’ i.e very descriptive and should include all the aspects of how the company works. Meaningfully, what enables the question is about the choices that organisations are going to allow the employees to experience. Will it be full office, hybrid, or working remotely? For example, if a person works in an organisation where one has to go and interact with people like in hospitality, etc., then the person is going to be in the office and that too a lot more. Similarly, a person who works creatively and needs individual work focus, in that case, remote will work for them. Hybrid work also follows the same pattern with different work schedules and that is where the communication part comes.
Sunil Setlur observed four ways of communication that can support the workforce in any working conditions -
- Implicit to Explicit - It’s the form of communication where everything needs to be described to the fundamentals. The new hires need to be communicated in a certain way and this enables them to understand the working at the beginning, to some extent.
- Asynchronous - The workforce needs to be communicated that in this remote setup, work can happen in the blocks of outcomes instead of blocks of time. The working has to become result-oriented and time has to become the pillar of consistency.
- Affirmation-oriented - Interaction on the video call is a mandate and no employee can escape from the clutches of zoom call. Though many meetings will be avoided, what cannot be avoided is positive reinforcement. The non-verbal cues will be very important for employers and employees alike as they communicate amongst themselves to share a professional bond of progress.
- Deliberate Support - Work from home takes away the mediums of sharing psychological and emotional support with employees. The right kind of communication would involve deliberate efforts to enable the employees to see through their emotional pain and focus on working better. The social and psychological needs have to be addressed deliberately to withstand the workforce’s emotional dam from breaking.
Importance of Additiveness
The new ways of working will involve new forms of communication. So it’s also about ‘Yes, and ..’. The employees can’t be bound with “Either you are going back to the office or fully remote”. It’s important to understand that it has to be described to the employees that all options are enabled for them. Going back to the office, hybrid work, and fully remote - they have to be choices for the employees, not daggers over their heads. Organisations need to realise that people have full lives outside of work, and those whose lives affect the experience and impact in the office or the workplace, they need a world full of acknowledgment. Acknowledging the fracas of communications is prudent and needs utter patience to understand.
Evolving the culture while being in remote
Sunil concluded his session by discussing how evolution is important and a prerequisite for deeply personalised communication that is becoming the foundation of the new world of work. ‘One size doesn’t fit all’ is a thought every employer should remember. Hence, keeping the culture ‘static’ and communication ‘aloof’ won’t take the workforce anywhere. Culture and communication go hand in hand and it has to be nurtured and developed so work smoothly and effectively.