They say recurring dreams are our subconscious mind trying to tell us something. If the ongoing whiplash and changes due to the coronavirus pandemic feel like a recurring dream you can’t get away from, you’re not alone. Perhaps what the continued struggle is trying to tell us is that it’s possible to find paths of hope and resilience as uncertainty continues.
As we see it, bringing company culture into remote work is how we deal with uncertainty. Here in Colorado and nationally, many in the tech sector continue to work remotely which begs the question, how do we grapple with a loss of in-person culture? How can businesses ensure that values are not only translated through remote work, but felt tangibly through employees and community impact?
These questions are difficult to answer, and in answering them, we find our grit and new motivation. That’s why we built this guide on embedding company culture into remote work. Everything we’ve learned about remote work and managing teams virtually is packed onto this page.
Certainly, this year will be marked with how much resolve was shown by many Americans who worked hard, supported their families, and reached goals despite heavy handed challenges. While the impact of COVID-19 on the country is vast, we can identify more specific outcomes for the Denver tech community for those looking ahead.
Fortunately for tech companies in Colorado, the workforce has seen a steady rise in demand after an initial loss of jobs back in March. Colorado job growth jumped back up in August, and economists hesitantly predict a continual slow rise of job growth going into 2021. From our observations on the market, our clients are still growing their teams in Colorado and will continue to work remotely into next year.
We may enjoy a small comfort with these upward trends, but in truth, no one knows exactly what will happen. However, six months into the global pandemic, business leaders have learned a lot about business continuity and development in the time of COVID.
Remember when shifting management styles and collaborative environments to online platforms felt like a herculean effort? Now those new practices are a part of daily life. In the same way, intentionally embedding company culture into remote work can become a part of daily workflows.
In light of how quickly things can change, we encourage leaders to keep reframing their thinking on how work can be done outside of the office. For example, how do we cultivate relationships beyond emails? What creativity can be brought into business development when mingling happy hours are less accessible?
Part of bringing your company culture into remote work is balancing the uncertainty we all face. How can leaders continue to promote optimism and motivation when the public health situation has not changed? Focus on these five elements of planning for recovery:
The biggest keyword in the title for this section is the infamous how. How exactly do leadership teams and managers create practices and ongoing elements of culture that can be translated without the office setting? Figuring out what works for your team may be very different than what works for another team.
Many businesses in Colorado, specifically those in tech, are known for their fantastic cultures that promote teamwork, intersectionality, and work-life balance. Brainstorming unique ideas that help keep employees happy is part of the employee engagement process.
In 2020, teams working remotely brought major creativity to staying connected and having fun, especially during statewide lockdowns. From company-wide fitness challenges to Slacking endless Tiger King memes, does that feel like ten years ago to anyone else?
Tech teams across industries have shown that the spirit of company culture can live on in remote work environments. Ideas we’ve heard of include virtual talent shows, digital recognition and birthday/anniversary cards, team goal initiatives, and even full blown award ceremonies where teammates nominate each other for public recognition of their hard work.
We spoke with a group of HR managers and engineering teams to learn more about how they were staying connected and even getting to know each other better than when they worked together at the office. They’re insights revealed 3 important features of helping people stay connected virtually:
For engineering teams, extended remote work has broken down several myths of management. Those working from home have shown that high levels of productivity and flexibility can coincide, and many prefer this model. Tech workers have gained greater autonomy and opportunities to be creative in their problem solving, while still delivering great work.
On the flip side, remote work can cause internal communication hold-ups. Both of these situations present huge opportunities for leadership teams to examine how workflows promote or inhibit the efficiency of our work. Analyzing the nuances of how office relationships have changed this year can help us create new workflows and environments of trust for dispersed teams.
Ultimately, an important lesson of this time is understanding that how management deals with compassion and flexibility defines a company’s culture in action. Qualified tech candidates are scrutinizing companies’ policies on work flexibility, benefits, health and safety, and diversity and inclusion efforts more than ever. Therefore, promoting work-life balance and supporting mental health are pillars of embedding your values into daily practices.
So how does promoting balance actually come into play? A few ideas include:
Earlier this year, our founder noted that on-the-fly leadership and gut wrenching decisions have defined this era. At BWBacon, we are the type to rise from the ashes and keep pushing forward towards new solutions and serving our clients better than before. This also means keeping our team resilient. Redefining leadership in a virtual world means paying attention to burnout, and elevating optimism and recognition in more meaningful, consistent ways.
The tech industry is well known for engineer burnout, and a high rate of turnover. On top of that, replacing an employee can cost companies up to $36,000 for the entire process from funds invested to lost work. Here are 4 signs of engineer burnout:
Employees experiencing burnout will put less effort into their work, miss deadlines, and feel detached from why they started working for the company in the first place. For this reason, engagement and burnout are two sides of the same coin. So, what can managers do to make sure employees are not teetering on the edge of burnout?
With remote work, we talk a lot about how to keep employees engaged. When your employees are working from home five days a week and the days are going to get colder and shorter, how can we promote a culture that keeps motivation high? A major strategy that boosts employee engagement and happiness is through simple, consistent recognition.
And no, a quick “thank you” through Slack doesn’t quite cut it. Not to say you can’t write an email, just perhaps consider how a phone call or hand written note could make someone’s entire week. Research shows that authentic, timely, and meaningful recognition can lay a foundation for creating happiness and goodwill within your company. What better way to interlace your company culture into remote work than with praise, gift packages, and real time shout-outs over Zoom?
As our team also works remotely, we’ve found that sustaining motivation and positivity requires creative initiatives, defining group goals, and uplifting one another throughout each week. The ideas defining creative team building in the pandemic era will inform how businesses navigate hybrid and dispersed work models moving forward.
Neglecting to adapt your team building initiatives to the times can mean a deterioration of your company’s culture. Lean on your people and ask them how they want to create a space for communication and bonding. If your team is located in the same city, are there any team activities we can do safely right now? Using your best judgement, there are still opportunities to get together, here are a few we like:
At the end of the day, this scaled experiment in remote work will change how we approach work schedules, communication styles, management, and company culture. For better or for worse, remote work will also be a catalyst for changes in the workforce, and impact how tech companies attract talented people. Highly competitive benefit packages, flexible work, and virtual interviewing and onboarding are already staples of tech hiring during the pandemic. If you’d like to learn more on tech hiring in the new normal, click here.
In terms of how the workforce is reacting to these changes, there is no one answer. We are seeing some tech candidates have a strong preference for remote-only roles, while others are eyeing Colorado for relocation and see remote work as a temporary opportunity. Either way, talented tech candidates are selective, eager, and in favor of remote or flex work continuing, even beyond the pandemic.
Embedding your company’s culture and values into the ongoing processes of remote work is a unique endeavor. From where we sit, boosting employee recognition, growing mental health support initiatives, promoting work-life balance, and continuing to invest in team building are no-brainer solutions for higher engagement and productive teams.
We’ve outlined our insights from this year on company culture in remote work with the hopes that teams across Colorado will continue to grow and thrive going into 2021. Reach out to our team with any comments or questions you may have on remote work or technical hiring.
Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.
If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!