Does Working from Home Kill Company Culture?
How you can introduce flexible working policies in your company and maintain your business' culture
Recently introduced laws that gave all employees in the UK the right to request flexible working has brought the subject of remote working to the fore for all businesses – including small businesses. While many entrepreneurs have welcomed the news as the key to a happy and efficient workforce, others see the change as potentially damaging to the company culture that they have worked so hard to establish.
The fact that remote workers still make up the minority of the workforce in the UK shows that many businesses are still wary of remote working. However, news that any employee who has been with a company for at least 26 weeks can now request flexible working means it is more important than ever for businesses to have company-wide policies in place. By preparing properly for remote working, forward-thinking entrepreneurs have the opportunity to avoid the mistakes that many others make again and again.
How to make flexible working work for your business
For many business leaders, the primary concern about the impact of flexible working is due to feeling threatened by the loss of control. When your team is scattered across the city, country or even world, it is easy to fall into the trap of wondering if they are getting distracted watching TV on their sofa or just browsing their Facebook feed all day. However, out of sight doesn’t necessarily mean out of mind, and employees can be judged on their input to tasks and contribution to the wider company objectives, rather than having to be watched all day.
Many people argue that it is impossible to maintain a real connection between teams and the company when individuals are not physically together, but working from home certainly doesn’t have to kill your company culture if you’re smart about it.
Why the business owner is crucial to the company culture’s survival
The role of the business leader is critical in maintaining the culture of the company, whether they are managing a team based in the same office or fragmented across a number of locations. The key to success is making each team member feel like they play an integral part in the company’s culture. An inclusive culture is much more powerful as it is actually owned and evolved by team members themselves, instilling loyalty to the company and a strong connection with their colleagues.
Remote working also opens up the opportunity for satellite teams spread across the world, introducing other influences that only serve to enrich the company culture. It allows companies to recruit the very best talent, wherever they are in the world, and harness everyone’s ideas and creative input to work towards common objectives.
How technology can help save your company’s culture
One of the reasons that remote working is often seen to kill company culture is when there is a lack of an environment that allows people to express themselves, communicate and collaborate. The development of new technology and software has eliminated this problem. Not only does it facilitate real-time conversations between several people, it enables teams to work on projects simultaneously, access documents and resources whenever they need them, and most importantly feel connected.
Even though collaboration software and video conferencing technology have filled the gap for when everyone can’t be in the same room, it’s important to remember that we are all human and arranging a physical meeting every now and again can bring everyone together. Remote working is about giving people the flexibility to work in the way that is most beneficial to their productivity and happiness, and that usually involves a balance that includes some face-to-face interaction to share ideas and feel part of the wider company.
This article was contributed by Bostjan Bregar, co-founder and CEO of The 4th Office.