How Has Remote Work Changed Your Workplace Culture?

In professions where it is possible to work from home, the pandemic has increased the frequency of working remotely. Assuming you work in such a field, how has it impacted the way you work, and the way you interact with your coworkers? Has it affected your productivity?

A big disclaimer: not all jobs can be done remotely. But for those that can, employers have been more likely than ever to allow remote work — sometimes requiring it — over the last two years.

Prior to the pandemic, many companies were reluctant to allow work from home to any great extent. There was some fear of loss in productivity. Employee interaction and bonding was a concern as well. In your experience, was this a valid fear?

Listen to a podcast where Michael and Lee discuss the related question: ‘Where does authority come from?’ We also discuss a bonus question: ‘What does your favorite music say about you?’

Assuming you work remotely, how have you seen your workplace culture change? Has not seeing your co-workers in person changed the relationship you have with them? What are the differences between a meeting in a conference room and a meeting over Zoom? Is your supervisor more or less likely to monitor what you do? Is your relationship with people in other departments — for example, HR — impacted in any meaningful way?

Related questions: What is your favorite teleconferencing platform? How will the economy be impacted by COVID-19? How has your work life changed?

3 thoughts on “How Has Remote Work Changed Your Workplace Culture?”

  1. Before the pandemic, our office was already making extensive use of online (remote-work-possibility) technologies, like Trello, Discord, GoogleMeet, and Zoom. Also, before COVID, we did not strongly encourage remote work while using the technologies to foster culture maintenance and collaboration. But once the pandemic hit, and for quite some time, we became a completely remote-based workplace and accomplished our day-to-day work with relative ease compared to other businesses (I presume). To this day, I’d say a substantial majority of our collective work-day time is still remote even though we have encouraged employees who want to come in to do so if they want to.

    So what has this done to workplace culture? I can only speak for my interactions, based on three days in the office per week. While I participate in twice a weekly, full-staff, remote trivia sessions and quick check-ins, I don’t feel as connected to the staff who only engage staff through Trello and Discord platforms. However, I have stronger bonds with those who engage with me via GoogleMeet or Zoom. Also, I have formed closer bonds with staff who come in to the office for scheduled times.

    This being the case, my interactions with staff one-on-one via real or virtual “face-to-face” meetings do not make for workplace culture. Instead, I’d say that the almost entirely remote-choosing staff in our Tenant Hotline Department have maintained their previous culture. (Discord is an excellent platform to promote collaboration and culture-maintaining capabilities.) Meanwhile, my bonds with specific staff members have strengthened.

    I desire the best of all worlds: 1) a healthy workplace culture that spans departments via more full-staff interactions. 2) Strengthened bonds with staff fostered by one-on-one office connections that would likely not have formed without the camaraderie of “Look! We’re the only ones in the office today.” 3) The continued option of working a few days a week remotely.

  2. I would be cut off entirely without zoom and rooms like zoom. Maybe I will be cut off again if pandemonium ceases. Not sure about bosses and conference room type questions cuz I am retired but at least I retired to something, versus from. I retired to do new community organizing, organically ~ intrepidly going where no one has ever yet succeeded to house those in our state languishing in DEEPEST poverty. It’s a global villager’s observation here that Minnesota nice ain’t real nice if you call it out. It’s flat out racism writ way too large. Not at all hidden. Not any way MISUNDERSTOOD. Not subtle. Our racial divide/s is/are prize winning in this nation. Prize winning in the worst way. Minnesota’s educational outcomes by race are worse than Mississippi’s. Homeownership is mirroring that disparity. Whites own homes at 75% of their own. The remainder do not. Everyone else does not. Nor will we – unless what has been so acceptable here for so long is obliterated. Poor ain’t poor on account of poor decisions or poor judgment as indicated by tiring (tired of tireome?) old white monied males who administer our institutions and ask us who are in poverty out loud – what we would have done differently to avoid our own homelessness? Soooo, rather than be bossed around by people like that…… Thank you very much……. I will work for myself, remain homebound, age gracefully in private, enjoy this era of the home office, save on mileage and parking, time and strain and be the boss of me.

  3. My job — working at a bookstore — can’t really be done remotely. While more customers are ordering online through a website, the employees need to actually be in the bookstore to pull the books and fulfill the orders. So I don’t have any direct experience regarding how the pandemic has disrupted or changed relations between employees.

    However, before the pandemic I managed a team that all worked remotely: me in the U.S., someone in Argentina, and three people at different locations in India. Building a team culture was challenging under such conditions — and this was before Zoom, so the only direct experience we had of each other was voice.

    I made it a point to encourage discussion about personal life, including family, friends, hobbies, interests, and so on. I wanted to make sure we all saw each other as people, not just voices in a headset.

    On a few occasions, someone would travel to work face-to-face on a project, and those instances were always very special, moreso than it would be if we were working in an office together every day, so that was a nice benefit. We valued our time together as a rare and special gift.

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