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Redefine your culture for virtual workplace

Christian Fernsby |
With more Americans working remotely than ever before, some organizations are scrambling to craft a 'virtual culture' in an effort to maintain performance in the 'new normal' and to prepare for the 'next normal.

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le organizational norms can show up differently in a virtual or hybrid work environment, a well functioning culture is consistent across all modes of work, Iseult Morgan and Adam Hickman write for Gallup.

It's through the employee experience that organizations can sustain that culture, regardless of where an employee may work. And by focusing on creating the virtual and hybrid employee experience, organizations will empower and inspire all employees to do their best work.

This new normal presents organizations with an opportunity to redefine the behaviors and rituals that codify the cultural values leadership wants to be reflected across the employee experience. Doing so is wise, given that the employee experience has a direct impact on customers' experiences and a company's recruitment and retention potential.

Simply stated, if your culture functioned well in a traditional workplace, stay consistent. You need one culture, whether employees are remote or in-office, that supports what your organization values. Employees' partnerships, experiences with their managers, and roles need to feel the same, whether they're in or out of the office.

Gallup studies indicate that organizations are most effective at creating a shared culture when they:

Align the virtual, hybrid and in-person employee experience with workplace culture.

Identify moments that matter in each mode of work.

Create the change that's necessary for a shared culture.

Align the experience with workplace culture

Reflect on how you want your organization's distinctive purpose, brand and culture to be applied differently in the new environment. Redefine the behaviors and rituals that codify cultural values and make sure these are reflected across the employee experience.

For example, a Gallup client that was accustomed to shuffling employees from city to city for in-person meetings was delighted to find that remote meetings gave them the human connection they were looking for and saved time while promoting wellbeing. At face value, limiting travel for employees might seem like a counterculture move, even during a pandemic. However, this client's core values guided them to adjust how they communicate.

Identify moments that matter

Different moments in the employee experience are more crucial than others, depending on dynamic factors including the employee value proposition, the individual role and the job market.

Consider onboarding, for example: If new employees in a hot job market find that the tenor of the organization changes quickly after they're hired, companies may see spikes in early-employee turnover.

Additionally, the organization scheduled daily social interactions with new colleagues and mentors for the new hires so they could develop key relationships a critical component of successful onboarding and doubled down on connecting new hires to the organization's purpose.

Create the change

Use your organizational identity (i.e., the culmination of your purpose, brand and culture) to affirm your expectations about how work gets done across the spectrum of work virtual to in-person. Think through the ways you provide stability and vision around culture. Identify and encourage manager actions that positively affect employees' experiences at work.

For example, Gallup's research reveals that when managers give feedback a few times per week to remote workers, the engagement levels of those employees exceed both fully on-site and partially remote workers who receive the same frequency of feedback.

An organization's core values and identity should guide decisions about the employee experience.

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