Remote Work Culture


Hi, everybody, I’m Mike Staver. This is Mondays with Mike, a weekly video series where I answer questions from people just like you. This question is pretty straightforward.

“Initially, I believed that managing my team remotely was going to be temporary. Now it seems our company is going to make this at least semi-permanent. Some days in the office, most days out of the office. What are your suggestions for maintaining an engagement and culture?”

This is the question that everybody in business is asking right now. This is the question, I don’t care what business you’re in, everybody’s asking the question. There are those who have a lot of heat and passion about this. No, we all need to get back to work. We all need to get back to the office. Regardless of what your passion is, for some people, that’s never going to happen. I can name at least three companies, big companies right now who have recently made announcements that they are going to sub-lease most of their commercial space because they want all their people working, at least a majority of their people working remotely.

I think it’s largely personality-driven. I think maintaining culture and maintaining connections are largely personality-driven. There are those of you watching this who’ll look at this and go, “I love working from home. I can go put a little laundry in. I can do this, I can do that. I can be here, I can be there.” You love it. There are others of you right now, probably sitting out on your back deck or out by your pool, or somewhere watching this going, “If I don’t get out of this house, I swear, it’s going to make me insane, or out of this remote office.”

Right before we got to the studio today, I got an email from somebody that said, “I can’t do it anymore.” It’s a client of mine. They said, “Will you help us find some space?” That temporary space where you rent that’s fully furnished. I think that is what we really want to think about, is we want to think about this idea of how do we uniquely do things that’ll help people that are different than us. Me, for instance, I have a studio at my house. I come here to Las Vegas to this studio. I do Zoom meetings, but I travel. I get to travel. In fact, we’re back traveling now. When I’m at home, I have to do things. Get out of the house, move around. As a leader, what you want to do is speak to each of your direct reports on your team, each of the people on your team, very specifically about what do they need to do to feel engaged. Do they need to go to Starbucks when you can start going back to Starbucks and working in an environment where there are people? Is there a common gathering place where you can host get-togethers for the people that need to be together? Obviously, you can continue to do Zoom meetings and that kind of thing, but it becomes increasingly harder to build culture.

The great leader is the leader that adapts their leader behavior to what their followers need. I’m actually in the middle of writing a course right now on how to build culture remotely, and one of the things that I say about how to build culture remotely, is to do it in such a way that you’re adapting and flexible to various things. I’ll give you some examples. I have a client that did a cooking show. They actually hired a chef, and the chef came to their house and they set up two cameras with light and they actually did cooking, and all of their team could invite family and friends and colleagues, and customers to come, obviously, with whatever their State requirements were. Then this chef of a restaurant, that happened to be closed down because of COVID, did a cooking show. It was enormously popular because they created a social environment, they made that happen.

Those are some ideas around how to do that. Adapt your behavior to what your folks need, and then interview them and ask them what they need to feel connected and to build an effective culture.

I hope that was helpful.

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