Digital and mobile technologies allow employees to remain connected no matter their physical location. Thus, the traditional office no longer exists in its original form, for workers have the ability to operate remotely. But, as the future of the average workplace shifts to accommodate these evolving standards, leaders must also realign their mindset to provide these employees with all they need to conduct business like their in-office counterparts."Many organizations would prefer that their employees come to the office to ideate and build relationships," says Max Chopovsky, CEO and founder of Chicago Creative Space. "But more often than not, they value results above the need for an employee to be physically present at the office. As long as the company provides the tools and removes the obstacles that stand between their employees and working remotely, they will continue to deliver results regardless of where they are."
Here, we speak with Chopovsky to define what brands must do to foster an effective remote culture that promotes comfort and productivity no matter the setting:
1to1 Media: What do most companies lack when it comes to making the employee experience comfortable for these remote workers?
Max Chopovsky: Tools and time are two of the major challenges most companies run into when building a culture suitable for the remote employee. Though some firms take the time to truly understand what types of tools and devices employees feel comfortable using, the same can't be said for remote employees, who are sometimes left to fend for themselves when it comes to unified communications and collaboration tools. Similarly, as the old adage goes, it's sometimes out of sight, out of mind for many remote employees. Management, unfortunately, just doesn't account for the real, human needs of their remote employees, like teamwork and human interaction. HR should take the time to meet or Skype with remote and freelance employees to understand how they can make their time with the company worthwhile and, more importantly, enjoyable.
1to1: What steps can employers take to create an all-encompassing culture that satisfies all employees?
MC: Crafting a really solid culture is just as important nowadays as determining your competitive advantage. In some cases, it's even become firms' competitive advantage. But different employees--from in-house to remote, and Millennial to Boomer--may be used to different surroundings, so firms have to be aware of and reflect that in their space and culture. As long as employees have the tools they need to do their job and barriers--be they space-related, political, technological, or other--are removed, they will be effective.
For freelancers and remote employees specifically, feeling like an outsider can be one of the greatest barriers to overcome. It takes effort to involve themselves in the goings-on at work, and even more to feel like a natural part of the team. So creating an inclusive culture that spans beyond the office is really important. Here are three tips for creating an inclusive culture:
1. Always inform your employees of the greater picture. Sometimes freelance and remote employees outside of the office aren't aware of the end-goal of a certain project. Explain it to them, and make sure they know how their role factors into the project's success.
2. Keep lines of communication open, and make sure to communicate successes and failures alike. Let your remote employees know when their work has had an impact on company goals. Oftentimes, they're not around to see the tangible results. Go out of your way to make sure they do.
3. Schedule monthly or quarterly meetings where remote employees are scheduled for in-house meetings, happy hours, or team building. Make sure these dates work with your remote employees' schedules and make their time in town comfortable. There's nothing better than being part of a team--except actually feeling like you're part of that team.
1to1: What does the future hold in store for workplaces as the freelance economy grows? What changes can we expect to see throughout the workplace?
MC: We're in a time of major change for most organizations as they work to improve their cultures and, in turn, their office spaces, to better match job force and employee expectations. One of the major trends that we've seen is the rise of the remote or mobile employee, and organizations will have to adjust accordingly. One change we'll see is the emergence of new tools and applications that encourage collaboration and constant communication. We'll also see organizations work on improving their office spaces. This seems a little backward, but companies want to create an atmosphere in which their employees, remote or otherwise, feel at-home and natural, even if they're only there for a short amount of time.