In a global survey conducted with CIOs, respondents stated that fully remote work will likely transition to hybrid work in the future. About 15 to 16 percent stated their companies’ workforce worked remotely prior to the pandemic, and as of late 2020, 34 percent of respondents expected the workforce to be working remotely permanently. By June 2021, 42 percent of respondents expected to be working in a hybrid model permanently (Statista). The pandemic has exacerbated virtual working environments like no other event has done before.
What is organizational culture
Organizational culture is the way in which people in an organization relate to each other, their work and the outside world, in comparison with other organizations. Your Organizational Culture shows how your organization works: how things get done, the interactions between people, and employee relationships to their work and the outside world. The best organizations often place equal emphasis on strategy and culture. Such organizations create a culture that motivates their teams. Organizational Culture is what differentiates your business, so it is important to know the various factors that contribute to your company’s culture.
The challenge of virtual environments
One of the biggest challenges in a virtual environment is to build and sustain an effective Organizational Culture. How do employees now feel and experience the norms that define ‘why we exist’ and ‘how we do things’. How do employees keep up with how your organization is staying ahead of the competition and industry disruptions. Can you feel part of a team when you’re not in the same location? When do you feel a part of a team when logistically you’re a part of several teams?
Building trust is the key in a virtual work environment
Is it possible to trust someone you’ve never met? This has been particularly challenging during the pandemic when many new team members never got to meet their colleagues even in the same city. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
- Speak the truth clearly and appropriately: online environments have a tendency to increase miscommunication in general. Often, cultural differences fuel these misunderstandings. This is why clear communication is crucial. When you express yourself honestly and tell the truth, you become more reliable in the eyes of others because you increase the predictability of your behaviour.
- Clarify and align intentions and expectations: when your intentions or expectations are implied, not clarified, you risk misinterpretations. If as a result of these misinterpretations the results are not what was expected, the level of trust in the team will decrease. When you clarify your intentions, expectations, and requests, you promote transparency in the team and increase trust.
- Keep your word and honour commitments: one of the oldest and simplest ways to foster trust in a relationships between people and groups is to keep your word. Remember that a promise is a promise. When you make appointments, do it carefully, and, once set, honour them. Make it one of the things you are known for. If you are unable to fulfil a promise due to factors out of your control, let the people know that you will not be able to do it.
- Practice consistency between speech and action: what you do is what people trust you to do. Actions really do speak louder than words when building trust.
Clarity is key in virtual teams.
- It’s important to be clear with processes, responsibilities and decisions. Not doing so can result in broken down communication and distrust in the team.
- Back up your communications in writing. If you make a decision during a conference call, make sure to send a follow up email to ensure people understood correctly what was decided.
- In addition to the team meetings, make sure your managers work to develop personal relationships with each of the team members. In a virtual team you will need to allocate more time to this but it’s worth even more than in a face-to-face setting.
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