The post-pandemic landscape of work is beginning to take shape, and the moral compass of companies has a new name: Flex Culture. According to the LinkedIn 2022 Global Talent Trends report, the pandemic has ushered in a “watershed moment for company culture”. The report says that “employees are rethinking their priorities and their relationships with employers. They’re seeking flexible work arrangements and more work-life balance. They want to work for employers who value their physical and emotional well-being. And they’re ready to walk away from those who don’t.”
LinkedIn data also showed that 1 in 5 Irish job postings offer remote options, up from 1 in 7 Irish job postings in the previous quarter. So which remote jobs are the ones worth sticking with, and which ones should prospective candidates be walking away from?
We flesh out the red and green flags around remote and hybrid work.
Remote Culture Red Flags
No senior staff working remotely
Managers and high-level execs are expected to lead by example, as staff will look to them for behavioral cues. Ellen Ernst Kossek, professor at Purdue University’s Krannert School of Management, says, “People match the hierarchy, so senior people’s boundary management style is what lower-level workers follow.” If there is no senior staff working remotely, what does that say about the authenticity of the company’s remote stance? Is it legitimate, or are they just paying lip service to shift tides in an effort to attract talent?
No hybrid and remote policies
Hybrid is emerging as the dominant model, but it is proving to be a difficult one to get right. The BBC Worklife series Hello Hybrid outlined how four different companies tackled the move to hybrid and fully remote models during and after the pandemic. Some processes were accelerated, while new and innovative ways to work, such as “activity-based working”, were formulated in response. The common thread, however, was that these companies had a plan in place, and stuck to it. What kind of hybrid and remote policies does a company have in place, and how transparent are they about it?
Weak digital set-up
We all know how important technology is to smooth sailing in a remote or hybrid context. Ensuring that all staff members have access to the technology they need - whether that’s laptops, software, or apps - is a good indicator of where an organization stands on the remote work spectrum. What kind of tech setup does a company have? Are hybrid meetings optimized for remote workers as well as in-office employees? Is information sharing opaque, and is everyone singing from the same hymn sheet in terms of where files are saved (cloud vs server), what programs are being used and how is collaboration happening?
Inflexibility is probably the biggest red flag of them all and can crop up in so many areas of the remote work environment. Whether there is inflexibility around synchronous working, meaning that meetings are scheduled around a 9-5 workday/week in a dominant timezone, or rigidity around the number of and which days employees are required to come into the office, a lack of malleability in the current climate points to a company that has learned nothing from the pandemic and wishes to see a return to “normal”.
Inflexible companies could also be seen to not care as much about the wellbeing of their staff as their remote-first counterparts, given the prioritization of life over work which exists in the philosophy of remote work.
Remote Culture Green Flags
Celebrates company culture
Companies who have remote working baked into their culture say it. They know that the game has changed when it comes to the terrain of work, and they are way out ahead, shouting about their remote-first policies. Omnipresent, a human resources firm based in London that has a five-star rating on Glassdoor, is currently recruiting for a content writer. The first thing on their LinkedIn ad reads, “Remote work is one of the great equalizers of our time, allowing people to secure employment opportunities from companies around the world, no matter where they were born or where they live. Omnipresent does just that.”
Sharon McCooey, head of LinkedIn Ireland says, “Six of the top ten most viewed jobs offer remote working, a striking feature when you consider that overall, one in seven Irish jobs advertisements on LinkedIn give a remote option.” Being openly remote-first gives companies a much-needed edge in the current candidate’s market.
Progressive and remote-first policies can revolve around flexibility. “Rethinking when and where we work is building more equitable cultures”, according to a LinkedIn blog post entitled “The Reinvention of Company Culture: Why It Should Be Your Top Priority This Year”. The post’s author, Mark Lobosco, VP of Talent Solutions at LinkedIn, says, “building a truly human-centered company culture isn’t easy. It requires adopting a new mindset where workers are judged based on their output and not on how many hours in a day they work. Company leaders must become role models by working remotely, setting their work-life boundaries, and practicing self-care.”
Once again, leaders set the example, so if high-level management’s attitude towards company culture is progressive, then candidates can rest assured that the organization’s values align with this.
Strong digital systems
Just as weak digital set-ups are the red flags of remote working, the opposite is true for strong digital set-ups. A remote job listing by The Corporate Governance Institute Ireland states what tools the candidate will need to know, and they include remote apps like Zoom, Slack, and Google Suite.
These kinds of things can be taken as green flags when it comes to assessing a company’s remote culture.
Clear and consistent communication
Successful remote companies have solid and open channels of communication. This ensures that remote employees are always kept in the loop and that no team member is prioritized over another (remote or in-office). Steady communication must be implemented for everyone - digital natives will be well versed in communicating through messaging apps, but companies that truly want to foster a healthy remote culture must also pay attention to more traditional channels such as phone and email, which are sometimes preferred by other generations.
The necessary training in a genuinely remote-first company would be provided for any team member that needs to gain proficiency with certain apps or programs that will enable them to communicate more effectively.