How do we maintain consistent behaviour that reflects our values when people are working remotely?

With so many companies now adopting remote or hybrid working as a long-term prospect, there is a worry that employees will not maintain consistent behaviour or the company values while working from home.

It’s a perfectly understandable concern; if you can’t see what everyone is doing throughout the day, how will you know that they’re doing things the way you want them to?

This issue is not new, and anyone who has worked in a multi-national organisation will recognise these challenges and have worked through them, some very successfully. And the good news is, increased take up of online meetings have made it all easier still.

If you want people to both understand your culture and contribute to it, you need to embed what it means into all of your HR processes, from recruitment through to exit interviews – regardless of whether you’re working remotely or in-person:

  • Use your company culture to attract and screen the right people. Your recruitment practices are a chance to show your ‘brand’ as an employer. Do you include your values and competencies in every job description so that candidates see and understand what the business is about? Most large companies will have a page on their website of what it is like to work there. Do you have your values and who you are as a business written down somewhere people can see? As well as attract candidates, you also need to screen for those with the right competencies. Psychometric tests and well-structured interviews go a long way to ensure you get a diverse set of recruits who are a good fit for your business.
  • Be clear on what the values mean in your onboarding processes. A good induction will help new recruits understand what it means to work in your business. It’s worth considering running a regular day or half-day – say, each quarter – to talk about the company values and how they’re tied to the business. If it’s online you can still make it fun, with breakout sessions to help colleagues get to know each other.
  • Use them to effectively manage performance. KPIs are a great tool for finding out whether you’re on track to hit your targets, but it’s equally important that they’re achieved in the right way. People need to be pulled up if their behaviour is not in line with your company values. Quarterly meetings can be used to recognise those who have demonstrated the values well in their work. This will help to tell the story of how they relate to the overall business goals.
  • Monitor the workforce culture closely. Make sure you ‘check in’ regularly with your staff to see how they are feeling. This is more straightforward when everyone is on site, but if you’re working remotely there are apps you can use to help you monitor company culture. They can help to recognise behaviours in teams and find out where there may be issues. Some will even give tips to improve morale if it dips. In team meetings, keep talking about the behaviours that demonstrate the culture, particularly if people are working from home and can’t always see this. Facilitate open discussion so they feel free to be honest and not defensive.
  • Ask for feedback in the exit interview. Exit interviews are an important opportunity to gain honest feedback. Ask them if there’s anything in the culture that needs reviewing. You may well get more meaningful feedback than asking current employees.

To summarise: it IS possible to maintain a great culture, regardless of whether people are working remotely or not. I recently hired a team who have yet to meet face-to-face, but who work brilliantly together. But you must keep it at the forefront of everyone’s mind. While the occasional in-person meet-up is highly enjoyable and certainly recommended, if at all possible, it really is a ‘nice-to-have’ rather than essential aspect of team working.

If you’d like help building strong values and a great culture into your teams, call People Puzzles on 020 3633 6830.

Rory Buchanan, People Director

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