Prepare your culture to embrace the remote wave
Even if some notorious cases did a U-turn, a lot of small and big organisations are moving to a more remote workplace. If your culture does not include remote yet, here are a few ideas on how to prepare for a future shift.
Put culture changes in the hands of your employees
First, each change in culture needs its supporters. Employees that will spread the word, show the way and inspire others. Internal evangelists, who will be trusted to try new ways and give feedback on the future of the culture.
Can you suddenly switch to remote offices for everyone? Probably not. Doing it for a handful of people, on the other hand, can pave the way.
Run small experiments
Once you have some squads it is time to start experimenting with them. The goal of each experiment is to trial a potential culture change and measure its impact and feasibility for the whole company. Here are some ideas.
- Allow people to come in the morning between a larger time range. If you are still asking everyone to be at 9 am sharp in the office you should start here. Being more accommodating with the schedule can be a tremendous help for people with kids or those with long commutes. Crowding in the subway for an hour every morning does put people on edge. You want productive smart people, not balls of nerves.
- Take everyone on a coworkation. An expensive option for an entire company, coworkations can be very effective for teams. Keep the normal work schedule and flows but do it from somewhere else than the office. This is great as a team-bonding activity too.
- One-day-a-week out of the office. Squads would be able to work from home, or a place closer to home. Hopefully, you already have the IT infrastructure (VPNs, Cloud tools) to allow your teams to work far from your company’s servers. Remote for a group of selected employees should be enough to highlight potential problems. The important point here is the regularity. Where coworkations are punctual events, the real point of going remote is to do it most of the time.
Those ideas can be used alone, or in any mix, to introduce this new concept of work flexibility. The key takeaway from this is: suggest and open the way, do not impose and direct. Make it a fun experiment where everyone can voice an opinion.
Iterate on the results
When the organisation is satisfied with the learning from those experiments you can then take a decision on the following steps. Is it a good fit for your culture and work style? What was the most successful experiment and how can we roll it out to the rest of the company? Did we identify all the tools to make this work on a permanent basis?
Iterate the selected experiments into your company’s culture. First roll-out one change to the entire company, then experiment with a new change or take an existing one further. Gather feedback. Roll-out. Repeat. You get the idea.
Work flexibility is not something to patch on an existing culture. It rather needs to be melted into. Running experiments on the inside, sowing the idea and showing the way are the first steps towards a deeper change.. Is your company experimenting with work flexibility? Is remote already part of your culture?