When business owners and employers invest in culture, they nurture and maximize the potential of employees and maintain strong staff retention rates. Company culture is therefore one of the most important, yet often overlooked, aspects of a business. It can take years to build, and so it's vital to take steps as a business owner to ensure your company culture isn't compromised during remote working.
Why is culture important during lockdown?
The government has had to implement significant economic and societal changes to limit the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which in turn has led to unprecedented changes within businesses.
Although many companies already have a remote working policy as part of flexible working, social distancing and lockdown has made working away from the office compulsory for much of the UK’s workforce. If not managed correctly this can have a serious impact on employee morale and motivation.
Furthermore, many of the key components of company culture, such as work environment, company mission, value, ethics, expectations and goals are much more difficult to manage during lockdown when employees are working away from each other.
Ironically, culture is even more important during lockdown as staff are unable to meet face-to-face, and certain employees might feel neglected. Maintaining company culture can certainly be a struggle during these times, however there are certain things which employers can do to boost mood and ensure employees remain fully invested in the organisation.
Assessing and understanding company culture
Businesses and employers need to regularly assess their company culture and understand what can be done to improve it. The easiest solution is communicating with colleagues.
Asking the right questions will provide valuable insight into what is being done right and what needs to be improved during lockdown. Ask your employees the following:
- How happy are they with the working from home policy?
- Do they feel that enough is being done to maintain engagement?
- What does the job and other employees mean to them during this time of lockdown?
Although it might seem daunting to invest in and improve culture during the pandemic, there are some simple steps that business owners can take:
Although the initial phase of lockdown has passed, employers can still make sure they are keeping their employees in the loop so that they don’t feel isolated.
Employers need to remember that they should continue to provide transparent information about the business, finances and any changing processes as often as possible. This will maintain employee trust and confidence, not only in the company but also in the leadership team.
Culture also involves how clients, suppliers and customers are treated as this will impact employee behaviour.
2. Lockdown commitments
Trust and flexibility between employers, employees and clients is vital. However, employers need to understand that working from home is different to being in the workplace and make changes accordingly.
Employees are likely to have other commitments and distractions such as home schooling, coping with isolation or issues with technology which can all impact on work. Employers need to trust in their employees, show flexibility and resist the urge to micromanage.
Organisations must also learn to work and communicate differently, as working from home often means waiting for responses. Company culture relies on openness and patience, and expecting the same response when everyone is remote will likely lead to frustration.
Developing new systems for communication that allow teams to send messages and updates without the need for an immediate reply can be much more efficient and less stressful in the current environment.
3. Group activities
Business owners should look out for opportunities to boost morale and maintain company culture. Group activities such as online games offer staff the chance to socialize with each other and take a break, as working in isolation can be intense.
Book clubs, film or TV parties, or for staff missing Friday drinks, a cocktail-making competition, are all simple to arrange but can boost morale during this time whilst also instilling a strong sense of culture.
About the Author
Dave Wrightson, is Co-Founder of Leeds-based digital marketing agency Engage. As a full service digital agency, Engage helps companies with everything from website design and development through to content marketing, SEO and PPC. Clients include Yorkshire Tea, Whitbread, Heineken and Jet2.