As COVID-19 sweeps the globe, along with the reality that many will not be returning to an office anytime soon, people and organizations in various industries are being squeezed into a remote work setting. All of a sudden - after years of speculation, we've been thrust into the future of work.
This post will highlight the importance of a company vision and values for remote work, as well as how to go about creating them.
The Struggle of Remote Work
At first glance, remote work is something to get excited about. Many organizations have been able to drastically cut or completely eliminate their rent expense. Employees have been able to save time commuting, and are given more autonomy than ever throughout their average work day.
But after a closer look, remote work presents many challenges to the average workforce.
To start, an often overlooked challenge is that many people simply do not work well alone and without feedback, encouragement and guidance. They have problems managing their time, and submit to the distractions of working from home. It may take them a long time to adjust to remote work, and will require extra engagement and guidance.
Furthermore, there are well known communication challenges associated with remote work. Video conferencing technology glitches and is subject to slow performance on less stable internet connections and older computers. Communicating over video chat is the reason we're able to work remotely, but as a method of communication, we all agree it's inferior in comparison to in-person.
As you look forward as an organization, it will be more important than ever to have a company vision that everyone is bought into, and it may be time to rethink the company values. With many organizations destined for full remote work, the company vision and values will have a big impact on recruitment and hiring for the year to come - if not, forever.
For more information on remote work and business continuity during uncertainty, read our complete guide to remote work.
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Why a Company Vision is Important for Remote Work
A company vision is the ideal future of an organization, whether it be 3, 5 or 20 years down the road. However, the company vision is far more than just a statement. The company vision acts as a road map, and will guide the goals and actions of the organization. When employees recognize their company vision as something achievable that they can buy into, they will be energized and enthused to work for that company. When employees recognize their place in the company vision, and how they can contribute to achieving it, their work will become fulfilling. Not only that, the company vision will attract like-minded job seekers if done correctly.
Having a company vision that your people can buy into is more important than ever. As they work from home, many of your people are probably hurting for some direction and purpose during these times. As a leader it may be impossible to notice, especially if they're getting their work done, but many of your remote workers may be feeling strained.
Now more than ever, it may be a good time to re-think, re-plan and re-communicate your company vision.
How to Create a Company Vision
The video below outlines an exercise we do with our own clients to start the company vision planning process. It's a great way to start a strategic planning session and have everyone thinking about the future. Keep in mind, this exercise can easily be done remotely.
As you get underway with your company vision planning process, there are a couple things to keep in mind:
- Your company vision should be achievable and realistic
- The end date - not too far in the future that your employees can't see themselves in that future
- It should be measurable - it may uncomfortable, but it should be very clear if you have succeeded or failed the company vision when the time is up
For a more in-depth look at the company vision planning process, check out the video below: How to Develop a Company Vision.
Why Company Values are Important for Remote Work
Your company values are the behaviours and attitudes on display throughout your organization. One of the most important things to keep in mind about company values, is that they're passed down from the leaders or leader of your organization. Whether you like them or not, they are your company values and it's up to the leaders in your organization to shape and mold them. If your company values are stated as one thing, but the leaders reward the opposite behaviour, then there is no alignment around your values.
For a brief explanation of what company values look like inside an organization, check out the video below:
During these times, and possibly well into the future, when your people are working fully remotely, it will be more important than ever to have strong company values. The values and behaviours that were once important may be less so today. More urgently, it may be necessary to shape new company values now that your team is working remotely.
If you asked your employees what the company values were, would they be able to tell you?
How to Identify & Create Company Values
Now, more than ever, may be the best time to re-define your company values. It will be important to instill certain values in your current employees as they work remotely, and for future hires just joining the company.
One exercise we do with our clients is to create a two column chart. Populate the left column with your current company values, both good and bad. On the right side of the chart, list the company values you wish to instill across the organization. Then, the leadership team can decide on which values to go ahead with and foster, and which ones don't align with the company vision and mission.
From there, it must be decided how these company values will be instilled throughout the organization. For example, if work/life balance is an important value to your organization, you may want to enact company policies and events that promote work/life balance.
Learn how to create goals your team can get behind and crush:
Some of our top company values to consider for remote work include:
> Trustworthiness - Let's face it, your remote workers are trusted to be completely alone, at home, among distractions such as social media, pets and roommates for the majority of their work day. It's important to instill the value of trust, and to look for trustworthy behaviour when hiring.
> Open communication - With the inability to meet in person whenever needed, it's super important to keep communication lines open when employees are working remotely. If it's too difficult to communicate, or there is no scheduled communication, some employees will simply not ask those important questions or ask for help.
> Self-motivation - It takes a certain type of person to be highly productive in isolation, when their boss isn't in the same building. When they're left on their own for days at a time, they need to be able to motivate themselves to work towards the company vision and goals.
> Teamwork - Although your team may be displaced across state and provincial lines, teamwork will be more important than ever. When you used to be able to pop into someone's office for a quick chat, you might now have to request and schedule time with that person. A high level of teamwork will be required to accommodate everyone's different schedules, which may or may not include varying time zones.
For a more in-depth explanation of how to develop company values, check out the video below:
To learn how to incorporate these steps into a strategic plan, along with every other step in the process, take our course and create your own strategic plan from scratch: