How To Build Team Culture, Remotely

Building a corporate culture during a pandemic will pose a lot of tough questions for businesses everywhere. Ultimately, it will be organizational culture that drives competitive advantage and performance whether working from home or in the office. A new report by Tempting Talent looks into building culture for organizations during these challenging times.

January 27, 2021 – When the pandemic hit last year, no one could have foreseen the changes that would happen to the workplace. Recruitment has a reputation for presenteeism and a big reliance on KPIs. Morning meetings are a staple, with day plans, standing team meetings and daily goal setting. When lockdowns came into force, this all changed. Thousands of companies sent employees home with laptops and headsets, put roles on hold and overhauled interview processes. But many organizations have adapted and thrived during this period. They made quick decisions and have had record years.

One of the biggest challenges that employers have faced has been building culture, according to Rob White, a senior consultant with Tempting Talent, the talent arm of Tempting Ventures, a recruitment-focused venture capital firm. How do you integrate a new starter into the culture? How do you make them feel welcome and part of the team? How do you get them working without meeting them yet? Tempting Talent surveyed a range of candidates and clients to get a better understanding.

How do firms build culture remotely?

The most important answer to this question is also one of the most practical, said Mr. White. “New employees need the right equipment from Day One,” he added.

Clayton Smith, who recently joined Venturi as head of salesforce recruitment, told Tempting Talent that on his first day he was sent a company cell phone that was set up quickly and allowed him to get to work. “I personally prefer to use the MacBook operating system, so I worked from my own laptop, but there was a laptop on offer if I needed it,” he said. “The team helped me integrate all their software on my laptop. It was a simple process.”’

When asked how his company made him feel part of the team, something that is typically done in recruitment by team lunches and drinks, Mr. Smith said: “My new manager, Michael, set me up on one-on-ones with half of the business to get to know everyone internally; this allowed me to work quickly on a peer level. There is nothing I would change about the process; they let me adjust to the process and were also very receptive to hearing my thoughts on improving process and internal management.”

Mr. Smith’s experience is an excellent example of integrating a new remote team member very quickly, said Tempting Talent. “There is also a variety of other initiatives we’ve heard of: giving employees vouchers for home office equipment, Zoom quizzes and Deliveroo vouchers, as an example,” said the firm. “Also, new employees needed the opportunity to get face time with as much of the team as possible. This enabled them to work effectively and build relationships.”

How does it feel for staff and managers?

Many staff and managers admit to initially feeling skeptical about building culture remotely, said Mr. White. “While it is different from being in the office, buy-in from the team and the new employees help build a culture of trust and understanding,” the firm said.

Ensuring the right equipment works effectively and arrives on time is a logistical challenge. This process can quickly become the norm with new start packs sent around the country.

Transforming Corporate Culture and Driving Performance in the New Workplace
As organizations begin to look at the matter of if, when and how they will transition back to traditional workplaces, leaders are fielding a number of questions: What will the office look like? Will it be safe? Will it ever be the same again? Can we have a high-performance culture with so many people working remotely?

“We know that some team members will happily return to offices, while others will choose to visit the office as needed, and yet others will continue to use their home office as a base of operations,” Marty Parker, president and CEO of Waterstone Human Capital, said in a new report. “The impact of these changes on corporate culture cannot be overlooked; nor can the fact that now more than ever, organizational culture will be the driver of competitive advantage and performance. Your culture will differentiate your organization more than anything.”

“You cannot judge your finish time on the rest of the team anymore – no one wants to be first to leave on their first day,” said Mr. White. “It is more important than ever to have a clear start and finish time, as well as an understanding of output expectations.”

What has changed from initially going remote, to now?

Trust levels increase when managers see they did not have to listen and observe staff all day. They realize their teams work well from home and generate income for the business.

Related: Creating a Company Culture to Boosts Creativity

“Managers noticed that some staff did not adapt as well,” said Mr. White. “Some managers noted they felt a duty to check on mental wellbeing with daily catch-ups.”

“Many adapted management styles on a case by case basis,” said Mr. White. “Some staff preferred more communication and others a more hands-off approach. It is important to tailor the approach for different team members.”

What are the biggest challenges?

Overall, the biggest challenge that Tempting Talent said it found from its conversations was managing productivity vs. mental health. “Managers and staff found it hard striking the balance of making money in an ever-changing market while ensuring they stayed engaged,” said the firm.

What does it all mean for the future of the workplace?

“On the whole, there has been a positive shift in the industry,” said Tempting Talent. “Most firms will adopt flexible working practices moving forward. But there is a consensus that some form of face-to-face office interaction will be essential for the foreseeable future. This is particularly prevalent when talking to firms that have an intake at the junior end of the market.”

Related: Five Things to Consider When Creating a Company Culture

During the formative days of a recruitment career, learning is mostly done by osmosis and by observing the practices of high performers, said Mr. White. “We do envisage and have already seen, some firms hiring completely remote team members. These are typically seasoned recruiters who have already done the hard yards and need little guidance.”

“The future of the workplace will involve a blend of homeworking and office work,” said Mr. White, “with technology being all the more essential to develop a connected and engaged workforce.”

Tempting Talent, founded in 2017, was created to support Tempting Ventures’ mission to help establish specialist recruitment entrepreneurs in new and exciting markets. Since then, Tempting Talent has grown to become a leading recruitment-to-recruitment business in the U.S., working with recruitment companies from the U.K. and U.S. to expand. “Our mission is to empower people to reach their potential through careers in recruitment,” said the firm. “We aim to do this through access to the right information, opportunities and people that maximize the chances of professional success, and by helping people find purpose and meaning in work to lead as fulfilled and happy lives as possible.”

Related: Why Total Well-Being is the Biggest Culture Shift to Happen in Decades

Contributed by Scott A. Scanlon, Editor-in-Chief; Dale M. Zupsansky, Managing Editor; and Stephen Sawicki, Managing Editor – Hunt Scanlon Media

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