Is remote working bad for corporate culture?
In a recent survey of Americans who are working remotely, 55 percent felt less connected to their company.
Overall, the survey from Prudential Financial of 2,050 taken from April 29 to May 6 found favorable perceptions around remote working:
- Fifty-four percent would like to work remotely in the future, with the figure higher (68 percent) among those currently working remotely.
- Fifty-nine percent currently working remotely felt as productive as they do at the worksite.
- Sixty-nine percent currently working remotely made more time for self-care.
Isolation and distractions, however, were tied as the biggest challenges to working remotely, each cited by 40 percent.
A Wall Street Journal article last week — “The Office Is Far Away. Can Its Culture Survive?” — cited the loss of hallway banter and asked whether remote workers can develop the connections of those working side by side to feed collaboration and innovation.
One reason remote working appears to be succeeding during the crisis is because teams already know each other. Developing bonds for new staffers working remotely may be challenging, though.
Maintaining etiquette on virtual calls, including making sure everyone can participate equally as well as working out the kinks of virtual conversations, may help remote teams better connect.
“When we’re in a group, we make eye contact and we use our body language to signal that we want to say something, and other people are able to pick up on that,” Anna Cox, a professor of human-computer interaction at University College London, told The New York Times. “But when we’re not together, we can’t share that information in the same way.”
Smaller group meetings and one-on-one check-ins are being seen by some as more productive than virtual town halls.
Online happy hours and games may also face limits in building camaraderie. Andi Owen, CEO at furniture maker Herman Miller Inc., hasn’t found a substitute for dropping by an employee’s desk and asking about their children. She told the Journal, “That unplanned kind of interaction that contributes so much to how we build relationships with people and how we build culture, those things are what are missing.”
- Prudential’s Pulse of the American Worker Survey: Living the Future of Work – Prudential Financial
- The Office Is Far Away. Can Its Culture Survive? – The Wall Street Journal
- The Bosses Who Prefer When Employees Work From Home – The Wall Street Journal
- How the Coronavirus Is Changing Digital Etiquette – The New York Times
- All These Virtual Work Happy Hours and Team Games Are Exhausting – Slate
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you see working from home as having a positive, neutral or negative effect on corporate culture? What solutions do you see for driving engagement and building camaraderie in remote-working environments?