Remote working success is about more than just learning to mute mics and draw cats on a whiteboard in Zoom. We’ve all had a few weeks to nail these fundamentals, and there’s been an amazing uplift in our collective competence. But the culture of your organisation or team? How’s that fairing in a world where you aren’t sharing office space or natural connections with your colleagues?
Only when we don’t have access to it, do we realise the value we place in the shared office space, the ‘casual collisions’*, the company events and social invites, in reinforcing our sense of culture, and personal belonging.
I’ve been reading The Culture Code, by Daniel Coyle this week (I haven’t finished it yet!). He talks about ‘belonging queues’ as being a vital element to building a team with shared understanding and value of the culture.
While remote working, that seems to me to be be about both connecting with the cultural icons of your business or team. This is not the time to ditch your corporate PowerPoint template in favour of a new jazzy colour scheme, or to blurt out your query the core values of the organisation, or immediately dissolve your current workstreams and ways of working without exploration, but rather for you to show leadership as ‘sensemaker’ in using the cultural ‘anchors’ to engage and energise in a changing landscape.
Belonging is a feeling. As much as it requires a clarity around the anchors to help ‘identify’ the culture, belonging is an intangible sense of being part of something that is elicited from every individual. As a leader, getting to understand your team’s aspirations and challenges in the remote working setting up, showing empathy to their own responses and being vulnerable to share your own thoughts and feeling will create far greater sense of belonging.
Communication is obviously core to the success of remote working. In a less structured world, where the boundaries between home and work have been blurred, we need to clear on our meeting habits, and rules of communication. Transparency and equal access to information needs thought.. without the casual collisions that happen at the water cooler, we need to be more intentional about sharing data, insights and decisions with those who will be impacted.
In fact, intentionality is a key frame that I think we all need to step into. The first few weeks we’ve been able to roll with the punches. Now we need to pause, take a breath, and ensure our actions and reactions are all grounded in positive intent.
Stay well x
* a phrase borrowed with all due credit to Kirk Vallis, Global Head of Creative Capability, Google