Remote Possibilities

Kim Lao

W Working from home has quickly become the new norm for many of us, with entire organizations now managing their entire workforce remotely. And while this new reality was forced on many businesses due to COVID-19 restrictions, Think Shift has been enjoying the many benefits of a remote-first mindset for quite some time. 

What originally started as part of a 2019 business plan to begin attracting the best talent available, regardless of geography or willingness to relocate, continues to provide numerous advantages without sacrificing culture. 

WHAT IS A REMOTE-FIRST CULTURE?

Adopting a remote-first culture means: 1. All processes and systems are designed to facilitate seamless interactions between all employees without relying on face-to-face, in-person exchanges. 2. Additional efforts are made to ensure remote employees are given the same opportunity as their in-house counterparts to experience the day-to-day of what it is like to belong to the organization. This means key decisions are discussed online (vs. office-only meetings) where all relevant employees can be included. It also requires offering all employees the option to work in an office or remotely. It’s the flexibility that some employees can be fully remote (in different countries and time zones), while some choose to work in the office, and others opt for a hybrid of the two.

THE BENEFITS:

Hiring and Retaining Top Talent. A remote-first culture allows you to attract and retain top talent. High performers want to work for organizations that trust them, provide them the necessary tools to do their jobs and give them the freedom to live where they want and manage their schedule as they see fit. Simply put, someone’s dream job may not be available in their town, city, or even country, but the remote-first culture helps to ensure desirable employees (and the company’s investment in them) are retained even when they choose to relocate. 

Promoting Diversity. When employees don’t have to report in-person to an office, you increase the pool of diversified talent significantly. In other words, employees can be sourced from anywhere. If they have an internet connection and the proper qualifications, they can bring their skills to your business. You can also hire from other parts of the world to better serve your customer base if need be. 

Improving Productivity. Giving your employees the freedom to work whenever and however they work best significantly improves productivity. Empowering employees to decide when and how they are available to others helps increase focus and decrease distractions.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS:

Creating an Intentional Culture.  Having an intentional culture gives organizations a competitive advantage. A strong culture is one that nurtures, grows, challenges, and empowers your employees. A focus on culture can help you attract the right people, retain great talent, keep your employees engaged and inspire discretionary effort. By developing a culture that elevates your employees no matter where they choose to work, you create an environment where they’re willing to go the extra mile – which can lead to tangible benefits for your company. Organizations that are intentional about their culture foster engaged employees who consistently go above and beyond the defined roles of their job because they love what they do. Their motivation comes from a deep pride, purpose and pleasure in their work.

Aligning Intentional Culture with Core Values. Effective Intentional Culture requires alignment with your company’s core values. Your company’s core values are the foundation (cornerstone) of the organization. For Think Shift, our culture is built on the core values of Accountability, Transparency, Stewardship, and Teamwork – and from top to bottom, we practice what we preach. Period. Here’s some examples of how we align our Intentional Culture with our Core Values. 

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Keeping Connected. When you have employees in different time zones, countries, and offices, staying connected is essential. Working remotely can, at times, feel isolating; having a dedicated team behind you and feeling supported is fundamental. It’s more important than ever to communicate and connect. It’s also important to regularly discuss any pain-points that remote employees may be experiencing.

Implementing some (or all) of the following initiatives promotes connectedness amongst your employees—whether they are in the office or online.  

  • Multiple weekly staff meetings to highlight priorities, offer growth opportunities and celebrate accomplishments 
  • Regular manager/employee check-ins
  • Monthly staff meetings
  • Monthly staff mini-retreats (including lunch delivery to their home)
  • Annual face to face retreats
  • Games nights
  • Committees and clubs
  • Wellness and healthy living challenges 

Providing Employees with the Right Tools. Whether your employees are in the office, work full-time from home, or a mix of the two, it’s important to ensure that they’re set up for success. Online tools like Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Slack are great tools for keeping communication channels open. It’s also important that remote employees are included in all meetings, brainstorms, and conversations linked to their job. All internal processes, systems and tools should be set-up to connect in-office and remote employees easily.

HOW REMOTE DO YOU WANT YOUR ORGANIZATION TO BE?

By no means are we downplaying the intrinsic value of face-to-face interactions or promoting a “remote only” approach. Instead, we believe the solution is finding the right mix for your organization. One that reaps the rewards of a remote-first philosophy without risking the organizational culture.

Working and hiring remotely has proven to be a fruitful option for many companies, and as we’ve seen over the past year, it is quickly becoming the way of the future. And while we acknowledge the many benefits discussed above, connectedness and engagement are essential to making remote, or a hybrid remote, cultures a success. We are social creatures and social interactions are in our DNA; tribes, community and connecting with others is what fuels our spirit. At the end of the day, a strong, intentional culture, open mind, and empathy towards your employees will always be the key.

About the Writer:

Kim Lao – Director, People and Culture at Think Shift 

Kim brings more than ten years of experience in spearheading comprehensive HR functions to Think Shift. As a cornerstone of our culture and operations, her areas of expertise include recruitment, employee communications, process creation and relationship building.

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