5 tips for building and maintaining a high-performance culture virtually

While 2020 has shown us that large-scale remote working is a viable option, a burning question for many HR leaders is how to maintain a high-performance culture in this virtual environment. It turns out that implementing the technology tools to enable remote working is the easy part. The more complex challenge is how to engage and motivate employees, and make sure that all the ‘good’ parts of a company culture can be maintained in a remote environment. Building a high-performance culture is hard, even in normal times. According to Gartner, only 31% of HR leaders believe their organisation has the necessary culture to drive future business performance.

Here are our tips for building and maintaining a high-performance culture in a remote environment:

1. Identify and nurture the strong parts of your company culture

What are the elements of your company culture that are particularly strong? These are the elements that make employees proud to work for your company and may be consistently called out as positives in employee opinion surveys. For example, if it’s customer service that you excel at, make sure to consistently highlight strong customer testimonials, and recognise employees who go above and beyond.

2. Invest in your employee’s learning and growth

Investing in content-rich learning programs can rapidly accelerate the development of your employees – a key ingredient to achieving a high-performance culture. Personalised learning that builds employee skills both for their current roles and their broader careers helps to boost overall organisational capability, particularly when underpinned by an innovative Learning Management System (LMS). LMS’s such as Inquisiq enable employees to access the courses they need when they need them, and deliver access to high-quality content and customised learning paths.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate…

Much has been written about the importance of clear and consistent communication from leaders in a remote work environment. In the absence of good communication, feelings of uncertainty can creep in even with the most engaged employees. Tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Slack can deliver daily and weekly flows of information to keep teams focused on the right business priorities. High-performance companies rely on leaders who communicate priorities and collaborate frequently in a remote work environment.

4. Leaders need to develop a new role based on empathy and trust

According to Josh Bersin, the pandemic has prompted leaders to “listen more, practice patience and humility, and trust people to do the right thing in very uncertain times”. Empowering and trusting employees is an absolute must in a virtual environment, as is measuring employee based on their output and performance towards mutually agreed goals.

5. Don’t forget the human side

Employees perform better in an environment where they like and feel connected to their fellow team members. Although more challenging in a remote environment, many teams have fostered this human connection through activities such as virtual trivia afternoons, Friday night virtual cocktails and even online yoga classes.

Creating a high-performance culture is a long-term game, and the actions leaders take in the short term to nurture a strong company culture are critical building blocks. As businesses take small steps back into an office environment, the key will be to build upon the lessons learnt from the remote working experience.

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