Organisational leaders need to soften the emotional and other impacts of remote-working and rebuild a people-centric culture. Here is how …

Remote-working has been a critical enabler for business and economic continuity during the pandemic.  Digital solutions and online collaboration tools kept most operations running even when physical movements were restricted.

According to a Gartner CFO survey, 74% of companies will convert at least 5% of their previously on-site workforce to permanently remote positions even after the pandemic.

So, with the shift to hybrid-work arrangements and increasing adoption of collaboration tools, companies will need to revisit and reinvent many processes and policies to understand and prepare for the changing nature of work.

Unavoidably, these changes will impact the culture of the company. How? Here are five ways that remote-working and collaboration tools are reshaping workplace culture:  

  1. The rise of digital workplaces in the Cloud: With data and applications accessible using the Cloud, employees will have the flexibility to work from anywhere, and physical offices will decrease in value as the center of all business activities. By utilizing technologies supported by cloud environments, teams are collaborating, communicating and becoming more productive regardless of where they work. For organizations, this opens up a vast opportunity to access a global pool of talent, tapping into the creativity of a culturally- and demographically- diverse workforce to be more resilient, agile and dynamic.
  1. Access to tools and apps anytime, anywhere: With the shift to remote-working and the growing reliance on mobile devices, businesses that leverage applications that are designed for a connected, mobile-first lifestyle will succeed. Access to productivity tools including notes, emails, event calendars, as well as documents, presentation files and spreadsheets through mobile devices, will become essential. With the flexibility and connectivity offered by mobile-optimized applications, employees increase productivity while remaining connected getting work done, anytime, anywhere.
  1. Improved productivity through seamless collaboration: Effective digital workplaces integrate people, processes, data, insights and infrastructure while focusing on connectedness, collaboration and personal productivity to achieve common goals and business outcomes. The ability to collaborate and coordinate efficiently will become critical as organizations embrace remote-working for the long term. Businesses will rely more on tools that enable efficient and seamless coordination both within and between projects. With collaboration tools that support seamless file sharing; communication channels that enable contextual conversations; and cloud-based project management applications to monitor projects efficiently, teams will focus on turning ideas into reality faster than ever.
  1. Communication channels to boost culture, employee engagement and well-being: In a Work-From-Home or Anywhere setting, agile organizations will utilize their communications tools to create avenues for conversation, encourage the free flow of ideas, set up feedback channels and create opportunities for employees to bond with peers. Tools including intranet platforms will serve as a digital space to share information, discuss ideas and communicate business updates. Through virtual coffee sessions and surveys, managers will gather feedback, recognize and appreciate exceptional work, and keep their employees motivated and engaged.

    Employee well-being is definitely a key concern for employers as well. In the a 2021 Deloitte Global Human Capital Trends study, 80% of respondents had cited well-being as important to organizational success: workforce experience was seen as the key driver for qualifying wellness. As such it is critical that despite the lack of physical interactions, companies need to continue to foster a sense of camaraderie and create a healthy workplace culture. This may be enabled by solutions like integrated / unified communications platforms.
  1. Consistent online customer experience across channels: With the surge in online transactions, businesses are investing in tools and resources to be able to provide a consistent customer experience across multiple touchpoints and manage customer journeys efficiently. With the help of analytics, sales and marketing teams can derive insights from data, surveys and previous customer interactions to create data-driven campaigns and automate offers. On the customer service front, tools such as a ticketing system, chatbots and access to content provide customers with basic account information. Keeping in mind that customer service employees are likely to be working from remote environments as well, the right customer relations management tools will ensure that the service experience meets consistency and excellence standards.

The shift to remote-working has required an upgrade of people’s expectations, an understanding of technology and capabilities, a call that many organizations have responded to. However, beyond tools and digital solutions, there is a need for companies and business leaders to ensure that organizations recognize the emotional impact of the changes and invest in building a culture that is centered on people.

After all, technology is just an enabler that supports people doing their tasks. Technology cannot define or dictate a company’s culture, but most certainly it can aid and enhance the experience for many of an organization’s people.

Deployed intelligently, technology can shape positive outcomes and help build a strong culture in our digital future.