Working Remote: Here to Stay?

Recently, Brian Mountjoy joined Trent Dunham on the Cause+Effect Podcast to share lessons learned from a hybrid work environment and how to keep your team connected while working remote. 

In the aftermath of the pandemic, we’ve learned a few things.

Maybe you realized that meeting could have been an email or perhaps certain employees accomplish more in their own homes. Generally speaking, we learned that giving people the freedom to determine where they work on any given day increases productivity.  

While there are certainly many positives to all being together in the office five days a week, it’s a new world, and that is no longer an expectation for most organizations. As a result, there has been a clear shift in how to engage your employees in 2022.

Here at Dunham+Company, we’ve witnessed a very natural trust that comes with saying, “Do what works best for you, your clients, and the work that needs to be done”. This is why hiring people you can trust is so important!

During the lockdown of 2020, we would hold daily staff meetings on Zoom. We didn’t hold these meetings every day to make sure that our employees were getting dressed and getting their work done. Our default was to trust that it was. We didn’t even tell them each day when the staff meetings would be. We would send a notice in the morning saying, “Hey, by the way, staff meeting today will be at 2:48.

We wanted to connect without being stale and predictable. And the motivation was to help people feel like they are part of a bigger team rather than isolated in their own homes.

Today, most local employees usually come into our office on Mondays because of our weekly staff meeting. And suffice it to say, these meetings are not boring! So Mondays are high energy with a lot going on. Then other days it’s different, it’s a bit more focused and quiet. Some of the employees are remote and others are in the office.

We found that giving people the opportunity to work remotely puts control into their hands and allows them to set their own unique pace. And from our experience, productivity has remained high as a result.

But how do we keep people from feeling detached from the culture when they’re not in the office?

Making sure those who are remote feel like they are part of the team is crucial. It helps to give them opportunities to experience things that those who are onsite experience.

If you are an employee of Dunham+Company, when you walk in the office door you will typically hear your name (or nickname) called from across the room by our Chief Culture Officer, Brian Mountjoy. (Many have even been known to have an ‘entry song!’). There is a sense that someone is excited to see you and wants to know you. You feel a part of the team, and that is baked into the culture.

But due to the pandemic, the challenge became, How do we maintain this connection for those who are remote? For us, it looked like “Zoom on Wheels…”

This is a portable video conferencing system that can move anywhere in the entire office. We would play cards on breaks, eat lunch together, or just talk and engage over Zoom. We were all together, laughing, yelling, and at times getting a bit competitive.

When we were totally shut down, we set up the Zoom so anyone at any time could just jump on and see the camera pointed towards the whole office. You could say, Hey, I’m here. And there would be Brian, chatting and catching up with people, whether it was 2 or 20.

Creating a culture where everyone feels as though they belong is more important than ever, but it takes intentionality. As Brian says, “If it impacts one person, it’s worth it.”

Now don’t get us wrong. There is great value to being in the office. The ability to walk through the workplace, have conversations, and pull someone aside to encourage them is so beneficial. Those things are doable online, but they are just more natural onsite.

But working remotely is here to stay. So embrace it! Look for creative ways to engage and motivate your team, setting them up for success.

Because leaning into this new normal will only make us better.

For more insight into how you can keep a healthy team culture, check out the Cause+Effect Podcast episode, Leading a Team That’s Not Returning to the Office.

+ More Insights from Dunham+Company: “If God Will Provide, Why Do We Have to Ask for Money?

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