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Creating an Excellence from Anywhere Culture: Strategies for Engaging and Including Remote Workers



As remote work continues to become more popular, managers and leaders must ensure that their remote workers are just as productive and valuable as their office-based peers. However, there is still an antiquated assumption that those who work from home are less productive than those who work from the office. This assumption has given rise to “visibility” concerns, where managers sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks. To mitigate this bias, managers must take steps to create an “excellence from anywhere culture”.


In this article, I will discuss how managers and leaders can create an “excellence from anywhere culture” and ensure that their remote workers feel included, engaged, and valued members of the team.


Creating an "Excellence from Anywhere Culture"


In recent years, there has been a shift towards remote work, and it has become more popular than ever before. However, there is still an antiquated assumption that those who work from home are less productive than those who work from the office. This assumption has given rise to “visibility” concerns, where managers sometimes forget about remote workers when assigning tasks.


According to a recent survey, 42% of managers admitted to sometimes forgetting about remote workers. This is problematic, as remote workers are often promoted less often than their peers, despite being 15% more productive on average. To mitigate this bias, managers must take steps to create an “excellence from anywhere culture”.


The first step towards creating an “excellence from anywhere culture” is to openly acknowledge proximity bias as a potential issue. This means that managers must recognize that their location-based biases may be affecting how they perceive their remote workers. Next, managers must commit to paying more attention to their remote workers. They must notice when they might be falling into proximity bias and redirect their focus to include those who contribute remotely.


To create an “excellence from anywhere culture”, organizations must practice valuing deliverables, collaboration, and innovation, as opposed to employee location. This means that managers must focus on the quality of work delivered by their remote workers, rather than their physical location.


Another concern with remote workers is the problem of decreased face time. To address this problem, managers must initiate more frequent performance evaluations or one-on-one check-ins. These meetings must be low-stakes and should be held weekly or biweekly. Managers must use these meetings to become more aware of their team members' work and let them know that their work is visible.


Finally, if managers work at an organization that allows them to make their own team rules, they should push for equal treatment. This means that managers must ensure that remote workers have the same opportunities for growth and development as their office-based peers. They must ensure that remote workers are included in important meetings and have access to the same resources as their office-based peers.


Remote work is becoming more popular than ever before, and managers must recognize that their location-based biases may be affecting how they perceive their remote workers. To mitigate this bias, managers must create an “excellence from anywhere culture,” initiate more frequent performance evaluations or one-on-one check-ins, and push for equal treatment. By doing so, managers can ensure that their remote workers are just as productive and valuable as their office-based peers.


How Managers Can Create an "Excellence from Anywhere Culture"


Creating an "excellence from anywhere culture" requires managers to focus on the quality of work delivered by remote workers, rather than their physical location. Here are a few specific examples of how managers can create an "excellence from anywhere culture":

  1. Use collaboration tools: Managers can use collaboration tools and software to facilitate communication and collaboration among remote workers. Tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams allow remote workers to communicate and collaborate in real-time, regardless of their location.

  2. Encourage transparency: Managers can encourage transparency by sharing information about company goals, targets, and progress with remote workers. This helps remote workers to feel more involved and engaged in the company's mission, vision, and values.

  3. Celebrate successes: Managers can celebrate successes and milestones achieved by remote workers publicly. This helps to build a culture of recognition and appreciation for the hard work and dedication of remote workers.

  4. Provide opportunities for professional development: Managers can provide remote workers with opportunities for professional development, such as online training courses, certifications, and workshops. This helps to ensure that remote workers have the same opportunities for growth and development as their office-based peers.

  5. Focus on results: Managers should focus on the results produced by remote workers, rather than the time spent working. This means setting clear and measurable goals and objectives, and evaluating remote workers based on their ability to achieve these goals.

By implementing these strategies, managers can create an "excellence from anywhere culture" that values collaboration, innovation, and results, rather than proximity to the office.


Common Challenges Managers Face When Implementing an "Excellence from Anywhere Culture"


I know that creating an "excellence from anywhere culture" can be challenging for managers. Here are some common challenges that managers face when implementing an "excellence from anywhere culture":

  1. Communication: Communication is key when it comes to remote work. Managers must ensure that they have open lines of communication with their remote workers and that they are using the right communication tools to facilitate collaboration and engagement.

  2. Trust: Trust is essential when it comes to remote work. Managers must trust that their remote workers are productive and delivering high-quality work, even if they are not physically present in the office.

  3. Technology: Technology can be a barrier to remote work. Managers must ensure that their remote workers have access to the right technology and that they are trained on how to use it effectively.

  4. Isolation: Remote workers can sometimes feel isolated and disconnected from their team members. Managers must take steps to ensure that remote workers feel included and engaged in the company culture.

  5. Bias: Managers may have unconscious bias towards remote workers, which can impact how they perceive their work and contributions. To mitigate this bias, managers must be intentional about creating an inclusive and equitable work environment for all employees.

Overall, creating an "excellence from anywhere culture" requires managers to be intentional, proactive, and strategic in their approach to remote work. With the right tools, training, and mindset, managers can overcome these challenges and create a productive and engaged remote workforce.


How Managers Can Mitigate Unconscious Bias Towards Remote Workers


Addressing unconscious bias towards remote workers is essential for creating an inclusive and equitable work environment. Here are some steps that managers can take to mitigate unconscious bias towards remote workers:

  1. Educate yourself: Managers must educate themselves about unconscious bias and how it can impact how they perceive and evaluate their remote workers. This means attending training sessions, reading books and articles, and engaging in conversations with colleagues about the topic.

  2. Set clear expectations: Managers must set clear expectations for their remote workers and evaluate them based on those expectations. This means focusing on results, rather than the time spent working or physical presence in the office.

  3. Use objective criteria: Managers must use objective criteria when evaluating their remote workers. This means using metrics such as quality of work, productivity, and customer satisfaction, rather than subjective criteria such as likeability or personality.

  4. Provide feedback: Managers must provide regular feedback to their remote workers on their performance and progress towards goals. This helps remote workers to understand how they are being evaluated and what they can do to improve.

  5. Foster a culture of inclusion: Managers must foster a culture of inclusion that values diversity and equity. This means creating opportunities for remote workers to engage with their team members, participate in company events, and share their perspectives and ideas.

By taking these steps, managers can mitigate unconscious bias towards remote workers and create an environment that values collaboration, innovation, and results, regardless of physical location.


How Leaders Can Ensure Remote Workers Are Included


Ensuring remote workers are included is essential for creating a productive and engaged workforce. Here are some strategies that leaders can use to ensure remote workers are included:

  • Use collaboration tools: Leaders should use collaboration tools to facilitate communication and collaboration among remote workers and their office-based peers. Tools such as Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams allow remote workers to communicate and collaborate in real-time, regardless of their location.

  • Schedule regular check-ins: Leaders should schedule regular check-ins with their remote workers to discuss their work, provide feedback, and address any concerns or challenges. These check-ins should be low-stakes and held weekly or biweekly.

  • Involve remote workers in important meetings: Leaders should ensure that remote workers are included in important meetings and have access to the same information and resources as their office-based peers. This helps to ensure that remote workers feel valued and included in the decision-making process.

  • Celebrate successes: Leaders should celebrate successes and milestones achieved by remote workers publicly. This helps to build a culture of recognition and appreciation for the hard work and dedication of remote workers.

  • Provide opportunities for professional development: Leaders should provide remote workers with opportunities for professional development, such as online training courses, certifications, and workshops. This helps to ensure that remote workers have the same opportunities for growth and development as their office-based peers.

By implementing these strategies, leaders can ensure that their remote workers are included, engaged, and valued members of the team. This helps to create a culture of collaboration and innovation, where all employees can contribute to the success of the organization, regardless of their physical location.


How Leaders Can Ensure that Remote Workers Feel Connected to the Company Culture


Ensuring remote workers feel connected to the company culture is critical for creating a cohesive and productive team. Here are some strategies that leaders can use to ensure their remote workers feel connected to the company culture:

  1. Set clear expectations: Leaders should set clear expectations for their remote workers and ensure they understand the company's values, mission, and goals. This helps remote workers to align their work with the company culture and feel more connected to the organization.

  2. Foster virtual team building: Leaders should foster virtual team building activities and events that engage remote workers with their office-based peers. This can include virtual happy hours, team-building exercises, and online games.

  3. Encourage communication and collaboration: Leaders should encourage remote workers to communicate and collaborate with their office-based peers regularly. This helps to build relationships and foster a sense of teamwork and community.

  4. Provide opportunities for remote workers to share their perspectives: Leaders should provide opportunities for remote workers to share their perspectives, ideas, and feedback. This can include virtual brainstorming sessions, surveys, and feedback sessions.

  5. Celebrate successes: Leaders should celebrate successes and milestones achieved by remote workers publicly. This helps to build a culture of recognition and appreciation for the hard work and dedication of remote workers.

By implementing these strategies, leaders can ensure that their remote workers feel connected to the company culture and are engaged and productive members of the team. This helps to foster a sense of community and teamwork, regardless of physical location.


Conclusion

Creating an “excellence from anywhere culture” requires managers and leaders to be intentional, proactive, and strategic in their approach to remote work. By implementing strategies such as using collaboration tools, scheduling regular check-ins, involving remote workers in important meetings, and providing opportunities for professional development, managers and leaders can ensure that their remote workers are just as productive and valuable as their office-based peers. By fostering a culture of collaboration and innovation, where all employees can contribute to the success of the organization, regardless of their physical location, managers and leaders can create a cohesive and productive team that is equipped to meet the challenges of the remote work era.

 

Jonathan H. Westover, PhD is Chief Academic & Learning Officer (HCI Academy); Chair/Professor, Organizational Leadership (UVU); OD Consultant (Human Capital Innovations). Read Jonathan Westover's executive profile here.



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