It can be very easy for a company to get a little lost in the shuffle of 2020 and its effect on the shifting work environment across the globe. While executive teams made quick, strategic decisions on how employees would report to work, for many organizations, the role of human resources was a crucial one, developing processes, answering questions from employees, and streamlining workflow across the company. For our company, the shift came more in our culture than in our day-to-day job functions — and that has made all the difference.
Arcules was not a fully remote company going into 2020. For some parts of the company, like our regional sales managers who are scattered across the United States, remote work was a given; but the vast majority of our engineers, executive leadership, marketing team, and everyone else pretty much reported to an office regularly. While we offered some flexibility to work from home, the core of our organization wasn’t built around it. But 2020 changed the nature of work for our employees.
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t all that much of an adjustment for most of the organization.
To start, Arcules was built on a strong culture from day one, so we knew we could be successful in continuing the camaraderie that’s been achieved throughout the years we’ve been in business. What needed to happen though was the idea of being more intentional about employee interaction. In an office environment, it’s easy to foster passing conversations with coworkers in shared spaces — and especially in an open-office environment like the Arcules corporate headquarters. Now, in a remote environment, managers have to make sure they’re setting up those casual moments by reaching out on Slack, setting aside time to be intentional about checking in with individuals on their teams, and engaging beyond just work conversations. Early on, that was important to our culture and keeping our employees, so with the start of remote work, that had to continue.
As work shifted more toward home, it was also crucial for our organization to be cognizant of the need for some of our employees to engage in a more flexible work environment. For us, we didn’t simply shift to remote work, we shifted because we are in the middle of a global crisis; so there’s a certain amount of understanding that needs to be in place when dealing with roommates, or kids at home and limited childcare or school options. Each and every one of our employees has had some kind of challenge in their life that hasn’t always been easy to navigate alongside the demands of their roles. That’s why flexibility — and the idea that we aren’t all going to be able to work the same hours all the time — has been more widely accepted across the company.
I’m often asked, “But what if I can’t trust my employees to work remote or flex hours?” to which I would say, “Then it’s time to look at your hiring process and see where the disconnect is.” Being in a more technology-focused environment, we’ve grown a culture that gives high levels of trust for employees to manage their time, get their work done (and not necessarily in the typical 9-to-5 workday). Hiring at our core has been done with a huge amount of trust that we’re hiring people that are able to cultivate that environment.
And environment is key. Building employee engagement in new and unique ways has also been a goal of 2020 and our shift to a remote workforce. As a company, we’ve implemented a number of virtual events aimed at creating team building from a distance, including coffee chats with the executive team, a virtual escape room challenge, trivia or game nights, lunch and learn events, and socially distanced outdoor activities, like mountain biking or hiking groups made up of employees. For HR professionals, we have to find ways to continue to build on that culture even from a distance to replicate a strong sense of community.
Prior to the shift in remote work, we relied heavily on Slack for internal communications; now, it’s an integral part of maintaining the culture we’ve built. We support providing space on Slack for employee discussions and meet-up planning, as well as more professional conversations about hiring or decision-making. It’s a critical tool for teams to work cross-departmentally and within their own groups.
Arcules is a manufacturer of cloud-based technology, so a shift toward more remote work has been pretty seamless as it relates to day-to-day activities. But there’s still a significant effort in ensuring that employees remain engaged, supported, encouraged, and interactive across the board. The culture of these goals doesn’t change, even if the location of where we’re working does.