After around eighteen months of predominantly remote work behind us, we have, in many ways, adjusted. We’ve gotten the hang of taking calls on Zoom, planning work on Notion, and trading files on Sharepoint, and so on. But other aspects of business haven’t been as easy to adapt.
For a lot of managers and business owners, remote work lacks the spontaneity and collaborative spirit of being in an office together. But is there really no way to establish office culture without an office? On a recent episode of “The Small Business Radio Show” with Barry Moltz on WCPT 820, Magic’s very own co-founder, Mike Chen, talked a bit about how to build a thriving culture outside of an office.
Here are some of the highlights:
People who are gonna be productive are actually more productive at home.
And people who aren’t productive at home probably wouldn’t have been productive in the office, either.
This points to deeper issues in remote work. One of these is how businesses measure productivity. A lot of the old standards, such as attendance or hours work, no longer apply—but that’s a good thing. They were never good metrics to begin with. A deeper issue, however, is that of trust. Managers who’d only trust their employees as far as they can see them hacking away at a keyboard probably needed to re-evaluate their hiring standards.
Remote work has leveled the playing field.
This holds true on multiple levels. Reserved, solitary workers, for example, benefit from fewer distractions and less office politicking. More importantly, though, it gives a chance to those for whom the rigidity of office work isn’t an option. This includes people who care for children (many of whom now study from home) or elderly parents. It’s also been a game-changer for people with sicknesses or disabilities that limit mobility.
It’s also opened up the market for work to people across the world. With the technology for remote work available even in emerging economies, professionals around the world can compete on more equitable, if not perfectly even footing. That’s a win for recruiters and recruits alike.
Any cultural loss is made up for by the massive cultural benefit that employees get from the freedom to work remotely.
Our own experience has shown that the freedom to work remotely — and being trusted to by managers — works wonders. When people can count on each other even across cities and time zones, morale improves and bonds strengthen. The absence of common spaces seems like a small thing by comparison.
Listen to the full episode here (Mike’s segment starts at the 18:30 mark).