Culture in remote work

Despite the return to office mandates, over a quarter of all workdays were still remote as of early 2023, mainly from hybrid setups. In my journey helping 22 organizations transition to hybrid work, I’ve realized a key factor: getting your culture right is the key to success in hybrid and remote work. To explore this notion, I sat down with Sondre Rasch, CEO of SafetyWing, a company born and nurtured in the cradle of remote work, providing insurance to those traveling outside their home country.

The Strength of a Global Talent Pool

Picture casting your recruitment net into a boundless ocean of global talent. This is the playground of remote work, where geographic boundaries blur, and creativity thrives unrestrained by the confines of cubicles and city limits. Sondre Rasch regards this as the primary advantage of a flexible hybrid work model with fully remote options for those living around the globe.

But this diverse, international workforce needs more than the promise of flexibility and the allure of working in pajamas. It requires a sturdy cultural lattice to cling to, a shared ethos that binds members together despite their disparate locations.

Picture it as an ambitious Lego masterpiece. Your employees are the vibrantly colored blocks sourced from all corners of the globe. The company culture is the underlying interlocking mechanism that connects these blocks, facilitating the construction of a coherent, magnificent structure.

Fostering a Culture That Works

When asked about building culture in a remote environment, Sondre likens it to conducting an orchestra where every musician is tuning in from a different part of the world. It’s a complex feat that demands more than just impeccable timing.

To create beautiful music, two things are essential – a robust conductor (the vision), and a team of musicians who understand the intricacies of the composition (the values). Every organization, like an orchestra, needs a clear and compelling vision that sets the tempo, and values that guide each team member’s actions, ensuring they play their part to perfection.

SafetyWing’s remote-friendly value of authenticity exemplifies this concept. Picture an employee in Norway contributing as authentically in a virtual meeting as a colleague tuning in from Japan. That’s the power of a strong culture, one that transcends geographic boundaries and brings a distributed workforce under one unified banner.

Trust: An Output, Not an Input

In the symphony of remote work, trust isn’t a specific note you aim to hit; it’s the harmony that emerges when all parts of the composition are played in synchrony. As Sondre articulates, trust is not something you can impose or input into the system. Instead, it’s an output, a result of ingraining values like authenticity and kindness into your organizational culture.

This might seem counterintuitive at first, but consider it like growing a plant. You can’t make it grow directly; instead, you provide it with water, sunlight, and nutrients, thus creating the right conditions for growth. Similarly, trust emerges when the organizational culture nurtures the right values and practices.

Output-Based Management: The Lifeline of Remote Work

One of the defining characteristics of SafetyWing’s culture is its commitment to output-based management. They have dispensed with the archaic measure of success as the number of hours an employee is glued to the screen. Instead, they focus on the quality and impact of the work each individual contributes.

To make this more relatable, think of it like a race. It doesn’t matter how long it takes you to finish the race; what matters is that you cross the finish line. Likewise, in a remote work setting, it’s not about clocking in hours but achieving the set goals.

Constant Adaptation: The Pulse of Remote Work

The world of remote work is a dynamic one, as it thrives on constant adaptation. Just as we adapt to the rhythms of the seasons, so must organizations adapt to the evolving demands and expectations of their remote workforce.

Sondre aptly observes that this adaptation is an ongoing process that demands proactive engagement from all members. As organizations and employees continue to discover what works best in a remote setup, it’s essential to keep the dialogue open, the feedback flowing, and the evolution constant.

The Dawn of a New Era

The DNA of remote work is deeply intertwined with the DNA of culture. It’s about more than just trading commutes for comfort and office desks for home setups. It’s about creating a shared vision and values, fostering trust, emphasizing output over hours, and relentlessly adapting to change.

In essence, remote work is ushering in a new era. One where organizations are no longer defined by the walls they inhabit, but by the values they embody, the vision they share, and the global impact they strive to create.

As we tread into the future, let’s remember that the pulse of remote work is not in technology or tools, but in the culture that weaves together the threads of a dispersed workforce into a tapestry of innovation, productivity, and shared success.

Key Take-Away

Building a strong culture is crucial for success in remote work, fostering trust, values, output-based management, and constant adaptation…>Click to tweet

Image credit: RDNE Stock project/Pexels

Originally published in Disaster Avoidance Experts on April 28, 2023