As many organizations transitioned to full-time remote work at the onset of the pandemic, it was mostly embraced by employees and companies reported higher levels of productivity. However, as the months have dragged on and many companies are still remote, there have been some cracks in the foundations.
Data by TELUS International, a global customer experience and digital solutions provider, found that 51% of the 1,000 United States employees it surveyed said they are feeling less connected to their company culture while working from home.
When asked what they miss most about working in the office, small talk and interacting with colleagues (57%) topped the list, followed by collaborating in person with a team (53%) and the separation between work and home (50%). Additionally, the survey found that the three most critical components of creating a strong virtual office culture are: virtual workshops and continued learning opportunities (68%); weekly staff meetings and one-on-ones with managers (66%); and schedule flexibility (65%).
"Although culture is a foundational element of a company, we don’t consider it to be a physical place. We believe it is a curated collection of values, vision and purpose that are reflected in a company’s actions and decisions, and what comes to life in moments of connection and interaction between employees to inspire a sense of meaning and belonging," said Marilyn Tyfting, chief corporate officer of TELUS International. "Given culture’s key role in retaining top talent, it’s an increasingly critical success factor for companies nowadays given the significant transition from on-site to remote work models due to COVID-19.”
The survey’s findings also suggest that the majority (90%) of U.S. workers agree that someone can be a great leader whether in-person or virtually. Respondents considered the following to be the top components of a thoughtful remote check-in from a manager or company leader:
- the manager asking how they can help the employee (60%)
- sharing updates on the state of the business (51%),
- creating employee development plans and suggesting new learning opportunities (47%).
"Employees expect leaders to continue to engage with them as frequently, or more often, when transitioning from an on-site to a remote work model, and they need them to demonstrate empathy and authenticity in those touchpoints, which can be achieved by leveraging high-tech tools, platforms and apps,” Tyfting said. “Leaders must set the tone in these new virtual environments, using them to recognize and thank individuals, share knowledge and company updates, or even connect over a shared hobby or by posting a funny meme.”
Bringing new opportunities to a team is critical during this time as corporate learning and development programs are important to 78% of Americans surveyed and a quarter of respondents (25%) reported they have not learned anything new since remote work started. The virtual learning and development opportunities respondents were most interested in receiving include online courses (62%), regular feedback (51%), and professional development seminars (49%). To make a training session engaging, American workers surveyed reported that having an activity, such as a tutorial or whiteboard session, they can follow along with during the remote session is best.
Additional key findings include:
- Nearly 75% of Americans surveyed believe a safe and clean workplace will be most important to company culture post-pandemic, followed by work-from-home flexibility (65%).
- One in five respondents does not think that their mental health is being prioritized by company leaders while they are working remotely.