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Maintaining culture during remote working

As countries across the globe slip back into lockdown, businesses from all sectors once again readjust to a ‘new normal’. Nowhere is this more keenly felt than the protracted implementation of widespread remote working, which has had a huge impact on the Consumer Markets Supply Chain.

Despite the benefits of remote work, including reduced commuting and geographical independence, the lack of daily contact with colleagues brings the challenge of losing a company culture that management has often worked tirelessly to create.

More than half of workers feel less connected to their company culture whilst working from home. A CPG Supply Chain leader shared these concerns, saying “meeting people is a crucial part of the day to day in our Supply Chain team.” As the Chief of HR Research at Gartner says “to innovate, you need people with expertise to be in the same place.” The risk, then, is a big one.

Remote working
A focus on output, rather than hours worked, can allow employees to work around their personal lives.

Fortunately, leadership has solutions available. “It depends on the leaders, they are the key to not losing the culture that they have built” according to Senior Director Xinjian Carlier. “Studies have proven that there is an equal proportion of introverted and extroverted people in society so finding the right balance in the leader’s management style and knowing their teams well is really important”.

Indeed, understanding your colleagues’ personal situations is vital. A focus on output, rather than hours worked, can allow employees to work around their personal lives. With 54% of professionals basing their career choices on a healthy work-life balance, this increased level of trust and autonomy afforded to employees has been shown to increase engagement.

Employees are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work when they feel that their voice is heard

Utilising technology is critical – a supply chain leader was positive about their efforts to maintain culture, highlighting “organising virtual lunches and coffees to avoid losing that essential part that is our networking.” Indeed, research found that employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6x more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.

A poll highlighted that the most critical components of maintaining a strong culture are virtual workshops and continued learning, weekly meetings and schedule flexibility. This can go some way to replacing the ad hoc sharing of knowledge and learning through osmosis that the office provides.

However, a recent study found less than half of the respondents said their companies are hosting online events, and 35% are doing nothing. It may be the case that the businesses which most successfully adapt in this way have the best chance of maintaining their culture.

Conclusively, as prolonged remote working continues en masse, CPG businesses can and must do their utmost to keep their workforce engaged and therefore their culture thriving. Fortunately, with widespread technology enhancing the capacity for connectivity and inclusivity like never before, with the right strategies in place CPG supply chain work cultures can continue to thrive.

This article was originally published with our December 2020 edition of our Proco Thinking News, read the full newsletter here.

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