Cultural Fit For Remote Workers

cultural fit for remote workers

Whether you are hiring directly or through a recruiter, both have their distinct challenges in today’s candidate-driven market. You have to invest considerable time and money throughout the entire process, not only in attracting potential candidates but also in interviewing and rating— these are all pre-hire concerns. Onboarding, training, and integrating new hires also have associated costs. After you go through that considerable effort and expense only to find out there’s a cultural mismatch, could negatively impact many areas of the business in addition to the company budget.

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The Cost of Hiring

Some of the latest available data shows that the average cost per hire was a staggering $18,982 across Australia and New Zealand—and that figure is from the beginning of the Covid Era, which has brought even more challenges. Bear in mind that this is only the financial cost associated with securing a new team member.

The time it takes to fill a vacant position is also substantial, averaging about 43 days for general recruitment. In the Australian life sciences sector, for the majority of employers, this is on average 6-10 weeks. Compensating for a human resources gap for that long brings with it additional costs associated with lost productivity, delayed or missed deadlines, and generally slower workflows. These are not factors that can be overlooked when considering the actual cost of the hiring process.

No matter what light you view it in, the cost of acquiring new employees right now is steep. With so many offices and workspaces becoming virtual in the past few years. Hiring hybrid or remote-only employees adds another layer of complexity to the hiring process, which could take more time and effort and sometimes be more costly.

No Room for Error

It was challenging enough to vet potential candidates in the pre-COVID world. Now, they must be assessed for remote-work capabilities in addition to any existing list of required skill sets and expertise.

While always part of the decision-making procedure, criteria like a candidate’s ability to mesh well and work with existing teams, adaptability, and their capabilities regarding self-directed work now must rank much higher in the process—almost, in fact, as high as the consideration of hard skills demanded by the vacant position. One factor that can’t be overlooked is how each potential candidate will fit into your organisation’s existing culture.

The Importance of Remote Cultural Similarity

Defining what comprises company culture can be difficult. Some organisations may choose to view it as a company’s “personality.” In contrast, others may describe it as it relates to the mission or vision of the organisation or links to the values of the company. Many organisations now have to prioritise their virtual or remote workplace culture, stressing the importance of things like transparency and clarity of communication.

Australians have a reputation of being quite direct in business communication, which many of us would agree is an asset. Clear communication is vital to ensure tasks are carried out as expected and that everyone is on the same page. Not all cultures are this straightforward—some may even be put off by what they see as abrupt or confrontational modes of speech.

Ensuring remote teams share enough common culture to form cohesive groups is essential to productivity. A robust sense of community also lends itself well to employee retention—which, as we’ve seen in terms of financial cost and time spent, has become more critical than ever before. A strong sense of team identity is necessary to create the purpose and drive that comes with distinct and well-delineated company culture.

Identify Core Company Cultural Values

It’s vital to recognise and form the values that are integral to your company culture. These shouldn’t be defined by “after work” interests like sport or craft brewing, but instead those things which bring meaning and determination to the work your organisation does. Prioritise your company values with an eye toward what your organisation does—things like work-life balance, employee success, and satisfaction, contributing to society, building a sense of community, and making a meaningful difference.

This will enable you to develop a hiring strategy that doesn’t rely on instinct or “gut feeling” about potential candidates. Defining core company values allows you to look for and match with candidates with similar values. It highlights the things your HR department or hiring team can look to see represented in a candidate’s CV, demeanour, or interview responses.

Important Remote Cultural Values

Openness and honesty—some cultures find it rude or otherwise unacceptable to deliver a clear and unequivocal “no” answer, and it’s essential to keep such barriers to openness in mind when vetting new candidates.

Dissimilar values on intangibles such as a sense of urgency or not prioritising the same things as the rest of an established team can hinder an organisation’s ability to be productive and successfully complete project deadlines.

Self-directed work is essential in a remote workforce, especially on members of teams responsible to one another for dependent tasks. Some cultures find this sort of macromanaged or “undirected” work, virtually identical to insubordination. Successful candidates will be those who are not only capable of working independently and taking initiative but see it as a positive attribute or benefit.

Clarity and directness in communication are also chief among the required remote cultural values. This will help easily build trust, keep the team engaged, increase efficiency and productivity as well as the morale of the team.

Putting your employees’ health, safety and well-being at the forefront are especially important for a healthy remote working culture. It is important to have processes, policies and tools in place to promote and provide the necessary safety, well-being and support resources to employees.

In addition to these, your organisation might identify other core values that are important for your company culture. Identifying and clearly defining your remote cultural values is key to hiring and retaining top talent.

Culturally Aware Hiring

Many decisions and assessments must be made during the interview process and in hiring in general. In a remote-working world, the cultural fit must be not only a part of that process but fundamental to it. Filling a vacancy or hiring new staff that holds the same values regarding things like productivity, self-motivation, adaptability, and communication can be an asset to the company as a whole.

Forming teams that, regardless of their geographical location or culture of origin, can work together well remotely and in-person, and pull in the same direction at all times will not only ensure continued success but can serve to bolster and revitalise a company’s purpose over time. While there can be new challenges when forming new company cultural values that work for both locally based as well as remote working teams, they shouldn’t be seen as obstacles but rather opportunities for continued growth and success in our changing circumstances.

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