HR Insights
April 24, 2024

Building a strong culture with a boundless workforce

Workplace futurist and author Alexandra Levit explores how organizations can use technology to build a strong culture with a workforce that’s borderless, fluid, and always on.

Table of Contents

These days the post-pandemic return-to-office question seems to have resolved. Most organizations have embraced a hybrid model, mandating that non-frontline employees work onsite between one and three days per week. However, this structure doesn’t necessarily equate to a positive work culture that employees are reluctant to leave. 

According to our Dayforce 14th Annual Pulse of Talent research, nearly 70% of employees are either looking for a new job or would leave their current organizations if the right opportunity came along. Thirty-eight percent said they had issues achieving their performance goals in the last year, with the main reason being too large of a workload. Only eight percent said their employer is giving them everything they need to be productive. 

It's clear that despite having more flexibility than ever before, employees are not as satisfied as they could be. And this does not bode well for a business climate that will continue to be plagued by labor and skills shortages.  

Understanding how to build a strong culture in a distributed work environment, a task that few attempted before the pandemic, has now become an organizational imperative. The following five strategies infused with the right employee experience technology may prove useful as you navigate this new terrain.  

Conduct ongoing employee needs assessments. 

The move to permanent distributed work requires a culture shift in all organizations, but instead of viewing this as an insurmountable task, leaders should look at it as a valuable opportunity to understand the unique requirements of all your employees and address concerns impacting specific groups.  

For example, caregivers may report that office commutes are a hardship, while employees who are underrepresented minorities may experience greater bias and more microaggressions in an in-person office environment. Leaders should know about these issues before they result in quiet or actual quitting.  

Employee pulse taking doesn’t have to be a ton of work. You can use an employee experience platform to automate the work of surveying your employees on a regular cadence and determine what they need and want as well as general workplace sentiment.  

You can also leverage an employee experience platform to create a real-time, two-way path to more in-depth dialogue and feedback with senior leaders and HR representatives. Once upon a time, the flow of information from the top to the bottom of the organization might have been more of a trickle, and c-suite communication may have lacked transparency, vision, and purpose. When an organization is empowered by employee experience technology, this no longer has to be the case. 

Reimagine office space as a destination.  

Since employees are in the office less frequently and often have a choice whether to be there on a given day, leaders must make attendance worth their while. Facilities like onsite daycare, a gym, and open, casual lounges to support informal interaction are great-to-haves, but if your budget doesn’t allow for such things, offering a space employees want to visit could be as simple as providing extra time with leaders via scheduled and unscheduled office events. It’s also okay to spend a little money on offsite gatherings as the rapport-building that takes place at these is often priceless. 

Finally, if your online employee experience is immersive enough, it will complement the -person experience beautifully. Used to market and generate excitement about upcoming events at the office and bring your employees’ great work to life, these platforms can add depth and creativity to your in-person culture and be a fun destination in their own right.  

Watch out for proximity bias.  

A Prezi survey found that over 66% of hybrid workers feel that workplaces favor employees who are together in a physical office. Additionally, according to my own research, a majority of employees feel they are not as effective when communicating via videoconference. Leaders can remedy this issue by restructuring meetings, revamping performance expectations to focus on output, and ensuring there is a fair mix of in-person and online platforms to network and show off one’s skills. 

An employee experience platform can also assist with combatting proximity bias. Select technology that can highlight individual employee profiles on the manager’s home page so everyone on the team – remote and non-remote – is front and center. Managers can also be offered the option to easily develop and send targeted employee communication that calls attention to each direct report’s personal and professional development.  

Offer assistance specific to distributed work challenges. 

Always-on employees require easy access to systems that allow them to complete work wherever they are, and “hoteling” at the office should be a seamless, non-chaotic experience. Match your in-office policy with more flexible benefits for taking time off when needed, and coordinate team office time so your employees reap the full benefits of in-person collaboration and aren’t simply sitting in an empty cubicle farm alone.  

A distributed work environment in a constantly changing business climate also requires your HR information delivery to be comprehensive and on point. Consider an employee experience platform with mobile and device agnostic capabilities, which can customize content for particular teams and roles, and help employees find what they need through intelligent search.  

An AI-enabled platform has the additional benefit of screening incoming HR issues and quickly routing them to the correct person, which is essential when leaders cannot guarantee that an employee who walks down the hall to HR will be able to speak to a live human. 

When your people are running at a million miles an hour and spread out all over the country or world, it is unfortunately easy to lose sight of what makes your organization a special place to work. While a distributed work environment requires leaders to put more conscious effort into culture, ultimately this renewed focus is probably for the best! 

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