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Work Beyond COVID-19: Remote-First Culture as a Competitive Advantage



Work Beyond COVID-19: Remote-First Culture as a Competitive Advantage

Culture is a key reason people choose to work for companies, and a key reason they stay with them.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shifted the very notion of what company culture is and the role it plays in attracting and retaining talent.

Free office snacks, ping pong tables, and bean bags in the corner are all worthless if people can’t even go into the office to take advantage of them.

The rapid, forced rise of remote work is a catalyst for employers, and employees, to re-think what they want from each other now and in the long run.

Companies who want a competitive advantage will realize they need to be remote-first, and they’ll be able to move faster than companies based in offices ever could.

Remote Work Culture: Does It Exist?

Remote work has been an on/off buzzword for a while now.

Since 2005, there’s been a 173% increase in remote workers, and 62% of office workers say they have the option to work remotely; and this is pre-COVID.

But, the data doesn’t tell the whole story.

Remote work was still an afterthought for most companies.

  • Remote workers were the odd ones out in meetings
  • There were few provisions in place to facilitate remote work beyond secure email and intranet access
  • Tools were procured for in-office use

There was no such thing as “company culture” for many remote workers. In fact, only 14% of remote workers feel connected to their company HQ when they’re out-of-the-office.

But now things are changing, fast.

With experts expecting us to be working remotely for months, and 74% of CFOs expecting to move some employees to remote work permanently, it’s the ideal time to think about how you can create a remote company culture that helps your team thrive, and gives your company a competitive advantage.

How Will Company Culture Change Post-COVID-19?

The longer our lockdowns and stay-at-home orders go on, the more pressure to re-evaluate what company culture actually is, and means, will be felt. 

It’s becoming clear that free lunches and open offices aren’t meaningful benefits.

The things that matter are:

  • How management empowers and supports their team
  • How effective communication is enabled
  • The importance of employee wellbeing
  • The ability to work to your most productive rhythm

The list goes on.

The key to creating a company culture that survives even when your whole team is working remotely is to design it ‘remote-first’.

There’s no playbook for remote culture, and every company will have different processes. What does remain constant is the need for your culture to be designed to work both remotely and on-site.

Ensure that people are empowered to do their best work, and unnecessary stressors are removed.

Your team will all be on the same page as workplace transparency increases, and knowledge is shared among teams.

Companies who can facilitate a fluid transition between remote and on-site work will be able to move faster than their competitors and attract people who want to work for high-performance companies.

Remote Work is Changing Company Culture Expectations

Employees realize they can do their jobs from home without losing productivity, as long as systems are in place to let them. 

Even if a large percentage of people still want to go back to the office, a vocal subset of talent who demand remote work options from employers will remain.

So, how do companies re-imagine their culture to attract the best talent?

Remote jobs, by their very nature, already offer benefits such as:

  • Reduced commuting times
  • More creative working environments
  • Some degree of schedule flexibility

As remote work becomes normalized, companies will need to step up their game. Work-from-home days won’t be a perk, they’ll be the norm.

The difference-maker between companies will be how much they trust their employees to do their best work, and whether they judge performance based on results, or time spent in the office. Can you guess which one people would rather work for?

Remote By Default as a Competitive Advantage

Citrix predicts that companies with unified digital workspaces because of their remote-first systems will have a competitive advantage. They’ll be able to communicate more effectively and deploy products faster than ever.

Companies will design their internal systems for remote work.

This means taking steps like:

  • Using communication formats to include remote employees in decision-making
  • Providing employees with the tools they need to be able to work from anywhere in the world
  • Remote work as the default, with on-site work being an option

Employee Wellbeing as a Culture Priority

Employee wellbeing has been an increasing focus for organizations for some time.

Companies wanting to attract talent will need to offer stipends such as health and wellness program memberships, expenses to enable remote employees to kit out their home offices, or the freedom to do something simple like putting a morning latte as an expense. They’ll also need to be flexible, as employees are based around the world.

People will need to feel that they’re trusted to do their work wherever they are. When people feel trusted, they do better work and will show up each day motivated and ready to go.

Culture and system designed to help remote workers thrive will be crucial in attracting global talent.




Author Bio: 

Howard Moodycliffe


Howard Moodycliffe, CEO of timetoreply has spent his career in both the corporate & the startup world, hugely enjoying both. His background is 90% marketing, and 10% winging it…and he’s done this in the UK, Australia, and is now doing it in South Africa. As CEO of timetoreply Howard is hugely passionate about growing a global business that helps its clients be more productive over their most vital communication channel: email.

Barjunaid Cadir is a Content Writer in The Weekly Trends, Web Developer, SEO Content Manager, LinkedIn Specialist, Social Media Manager, and a University Researcher at Anadolu University in Eskisehir, Turkey.