At livingHR, we have a set of expectations for our people, much like our people have expectations of us, their leadership. The old adage, ‘Lead By Example’ is still very much true.
But we also believe rules are made to be broken in some of today’s challenging new ways of working and in general.
Since our inception (2009), we have always had a work where and how it makes sense culture which has given us a head start on the Remote Work world. Putting humans-first and being empathetic to the reality of the work-life blur requires us an employer to be adaptable and empathetic. The reality is we are all at sea in this storm but we all don’t have the same boat. For some, they are on a yacht with the best possible boat but for many people working in this storm, it may be exponentially more challenging due to isolation, childcare demands, space set-up etc. It’s important to offer grace and establish norms and guidelines vs. more rules.
Establishing role and situation-based guidelines and establishing trust are important tools to encouraging the right behaviors, too. For example, if it’s an external meeting with a client or prospect vs. an internal meeting to collaborate, the guidelines are different. If someone is consistently creating an awkward experience for others, we think explaining why we need to honor these guidelines helps to encourage the right behavior. Also, giving space for the less formal times is just necessary for all of us as we continue to work in new ways. And can we just say that it is ALWAYS okay to have a sip of water during any Zoom meeting, whether that be with a client, prospect or with grandma. We are humans, after all.
We have also ensured our company’s culture is well defined. Do you have that foundation piece of your culture, your brand stand, your strategy, your mission, your mindset? What do you allow/ not allow and what happens if someone breaks the rule? If it is not well defined, you must start there. Once you have well defined culture, embed it into every layer of your peoples' employee journey. Identify what specific initiatives need to take place in order for you and your people to transform into the culture they need to feel successful and championed. Let people know what it should feel like for people to work at your organization. The experience for participants and effectiveness of the meeting practices are far more important to establishing norms in your culture that work, whether virtual, in-office, on the jobsite or elsewhere.
The reality is, if you humanize your workplace and truly make your teams feel a sense of inclusion, belonging, purpose and encourage wellbeing, then you’ll rarely encounter unwanted actions or behaviors that would not be considered welcomed in your company culture, in person or remotely.
Other Human Resource + People & Culture experts and C-Suite leaders weighed in on a discussion surrounding HOW relaxed remote work should/could/might be over at SHRM. Some interesting messages can be read here. What works for you and your people?