Five Essential Steps for Managing Workplace Culture in Distributed Teams

Many People Directors and their teams are currently working out what the new normal looks like. This article provides practical advice on keeping people engaged and aligned with your culture throughout this critical transitioning period and beyond. 

Whether your teams are familiar with working remotely or they’re doing so within a new, enforced situation, your organisation may be benefiting from better productivity, lower overheads, less wasted time and so on. And your people may be experiencing more control, more choice over how and when they work, less general hassle, overall leading to increased job satisfaction. However, even if working at home is a preference, it’s a challenge to keep people engaged, connected and informed in the longer term. 

1. Clarity of purpose, values and ‘how we do things around here:

If your culture wasn’t crystal clear and well embedded before, now’s the time to make it so. It’s a good idea to survey your people now to find out how they’re feeling and to include what they understand your organisation to represent. Take the results of this consultation and work with your top team to define or redefine your purpose and values, keeping them simple clear and memorable. Make sure leaders and influencers are equipped to deliver authentically and then work out a plan to embed ‘who we are, why we’re here, and how we do things around here’.

2. Clarity and consistency of communication: 

Review the general communications that are sent out ‘from head office’ and make sure these are consistent, clear and as short and to the point as possible (signpost to the detail for those who need it). Welcome new people onboard by preparing their colleagues with some ‘need to know’ information though also a couple of ‘fun facts’ to create interest, encouraging interaction from day one. Encourage feedback – the new norm is a work in progress and the mechanisms need to be in place for people to be able to have their say.

3. The right technology: 

Set up technology that allows people to communicate and carry out their jobs easily and simply. Make sure people know how to use it, how to video conference and so on. This is a good time to review what you have in place as the past few years have shown a flurry of tech buying activity. This should now be evaluated, rationalised and integrated. Ensure people tech is in place that enables you to understand the individual and for individuals to drive their own progress, development, wellbeing support and so on.

4. Essential metrics to track and improve: 

Review how key outputs are measured – is this clear and simple enough or is your organisation suffering from analysis paralysis? Less is more so work with your departments to ensure that ‘what good looks like’ is clear and easy to measure. Make outputs the new inputs in that there’s a shift form ‘how and when’ things are done to what is actually produced. For this to work you’ll need three things: clarity of what’s required, trust and good self-reporting mechanisms.

5. Safeguarding and supporting mental wellbeing: 

As we start to emerge from the Covid-19 crisis, recent projections suggest that deaths stemming from mental health issues could rival deaths directly due to the virus itself. It’s therefore absolutely critical that heads of people consider now how they’re going to take care of the workforce of the future. This is not just about providing lots of solutions, what’s needed is a more robust, diagnostic led approach. Check out Wellbee for more insights and an elegant, instant and cost-effective self-service solution.

By implementing this five-step plan, the busy head of people will have taken some positive and practical steps towards tackling the challenge of managing workplace culture and safeguarding employees in times of great change.