Tue May 02 2023
Founders & Tech Leaders

The Impact of Remote Work on Engineering Culture

Maryam Khurram
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The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically changed the traditional workplace, making remote engineering culture the new norm for many companies and startups worldwide. While remote work provides flexibility, higher productivity and access to global talent, it has also significantly affected the engineering culture.

As remote engineering teams adjust to the new reality of remote work, it is essential to understand the effects of this shift on engineering culture and find ways to maintain a positive and collaborative work environment.

In this article, we will explore the impact of remote work on engineering culture, remote work challenges and some insights into how companies can adapt to these changes.

Remote Work Drives Better Business Practices

From employees forced to work from home and new technologies required to facilitate this to organizations struggling to adapt to doing business online, few companies were prepared for the magnitude of change brought about by the pandemic.

However, the shift has taught us that there are better ways of doing things.

![The impact of remote work on Business Practices] Screenshot 2023-12-01 at 4.07.19 AM.png

1. Greater Diversity

The pandemic-induced shift toward remote engineering culture has allowed companies to build more diverse and inclusive teams. In addition, with the physical office no longer a requirement, hiring managers can focus on the candidates' skill sets rather than their location, which allows for a wider pool of talent.

Diverse teams can bring significant advantages, including enhanced creativity, increased productivity, better marketing opportunities and improved reputation.

By focusing on gender and ethnicity, companies can foster a sense of belonging among employees while encouraging them to embrace their unique qualities and contribute to the organizational culture.

Remote work and engineering have enabled companies to attract stronger candidates from diverse backgrounds and experiences, improving creativity, productivity and marketing opportunities.

Companies with diverse workforces are perceived as more equitable and open to different cultures, which enhances their reputation. Focusing on gender and ethnicity can create a sense of belonging among employees and promote inclusivity.

2. The Need for Workplace Flexibility

The pandemic-induced Great Resignation highlighted the need for greater workplace flexibility as employees reconsidered their work-life balance. Companies that were inflexible in accommodating their employees' needs faced a surge of resignations as workers sought jobs that better aligned with their values.

However, some organizations have adapted and become more willing to offer flexible arrangements tailored to individual needs as employees gain more leverage.

In the present scenario, businesses are more focused on measuring employees' output rather than the hours they spend in the office. This shift is driven by effective management practices prioritizing employee well-being and productivity.

Owl Lab's State of Remote Work report revealed that companies allowing remote work had observed a 25% lower employee turnover rate than those that don't. Furthermore, 86% of remote workers feel it reduces work-related stress.

3. Individualized Employee Development and Engagement

The pandemic has shifted company priorities, moving away from generic perks such as free meals, transportation allowances and trendy office spaces to individualized employee development and engagement.

Companies now focus on providing tailored training programs, home-office allowances, childcare assistance and gym memberships to suit employees' unique circumstances. With remote engineering culture posing different challenges for different individuals, companies must consider the individual needs of their workforce and offer personalized choices to attract and retain top talent.

For instance, companies are introducing training programs, monthly coffee talks and remote groups to address various concerns and challenges. In addition, mental health has become a significant focus for remote workers, leading to an increase in companies offering therapy and counseling sessions.

Learn more: How to Hire Offshore Developers in 2023

Why Company Culture Matters?

Employers are no longer willing to accept a less-than-stellar workplace culture despite adequate compensation. Creating and maintaining a positive company culture will help you attract and retain excellent employees. Here’s why:

  1. Workplace culture is a critical factor for potential employees, according to a 2019 Glassdoor survey that gathered responses from over 5,000 workers in four countries. The survey found that 77% of respondents consider a company's culture before applying for a job, while 56% prioritize a positive work environment over salary regarding job satisfaction.

Moreover, 73% of respondents said they would only apply to a company whose values align with theirs.

  1. As per MIT Sloan research, toxic work environments significantly impact employee turnover across industries. In the wake of the pandemic, employees have become less tolerant of unhealthy work environments, contributing to record employment turnover during the Great Resignation.

Complaints about toxic work cultures have emerged as the leading cause of turnover in many industries, eclipsing other factors.

  1. The younger generation of workers, particularly Gen Z employees, change jobs more frequently. According to Lever's 2022 Great Resignation report, 65% of Gen Z workers are likely to leave their jobs within a year and are twice as likely to quit their current job within a month.

These employees are seeking work that aligns with their goals and values and they are willing to accept a lower salary for a good fit job.

  1. Culture is a critical component of a company's success, encompassing the values, beliefs and behaviors that define how work is performed within the organization.

HR and business executives recognize the significant impact of culture on performance, with 87% of respondents in the 2016 Global Human Capital Trends report acknowledging the importance of remote engineering productivity and 54% rating it as very important - a nine percentage point increase from the previous year.

![Global and country-specific ratings of culture's importance.png] Screenshot 2023-12-01 at 4.07.29 AM.png

Image Source: Global and country-specific ratings of culture's importance

Employee retention has become more challenging than ever following the Great Resignation. Keeping current employees and attracting new talent are two of the most crucial strategies for companies.

Companies that prioritize employee happiness and flexibility in their cultures tend to have higher retention rates and are more attractive to potential hires.

While companies view employees as investments, employees also view their employers as investments, which means that companies must take steps to foster a positive work environment.

Learn more: 4 Best Tests to Screen Developer Skills Before Hiring

Remote Work and Engineering: How to Make it Work for You

![Remote Work and Engineering- How to Make it Work for You.png] Screenshot 2023-12-01 at 4.07.35 AM.png

1. Make Remote Part of Your Company

With remote work becoming increasingly popular, companies must consider making remote engineering culture part of their brand. This means highlighting the advantages of remote engineering productivity and showcasing how it aligns with the company's values and goals.

Companies can emphasize the flexibility and work-life balance remote work offers and how it can positively impact the environment by reducing carbon emissions.

By making remote work part of their brand, companies can attract top talent who value flexibility and inclusivity and seek employers who prioritize their well-being.

To incorporate remote work into your brand, companies can create a policy outlining the company's expectations and requirements for remote work.

They can also communicate their remote work policies and practices to current and prospective employees through job postings, social media and the company website.

2. Change the Hiring Process

The pandemic has led to significant changes in the hiring process, with many companies adopting virtual interviews and remote onboarding.

To adapt to the new normal, companies need to review and adjust their hiring process to attract and retain top talent. This includes conducting virtual interviews and providing a smooth and efficient remote onboarding experience.

Companies can also leverage technology to streamline hiring by using applicant tracking systems and video conferencing software.

Additionally, companies can establish clear communication channels and update candidates regularly to keep them engaged and informed throughout the hiring process.

3. Recruit to Diversify the Hiring Pool

Companies need to diversify their hiring pool to foster a culture of inclusivity and diversity. This means actively recruiting candidates from underrepresented groups and creating an inclusive hiring process that eliminates bias and discrimination.

To diversify the hiring pool, companies can partner with organizations that promote diversity and inclusion, such as minority professional associations and attend job fairs that target diverse candidates.

Companies can also review their job descriptions, ensure they are inclusive and free of bias and use blind hiring techniques to eliminate unconscious bias during the selection process.

By diversifying the hiring pool, companies can create a more inclusive and diverse workforce, leading to increased creativity, innovation and productivity.

Learn more: 8 Tips For Hiring a Software Developer For a Startup

Remote Work Challenges & Solutions

Remote engineering solutions have become particularly crucial in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, as businesses have had to quickly adapt to new ways of working and collaborating while ensuring the safety of their employees.

These solutions allow teams to communicate, share ideas and work together in real-time, even when they are physically separated by great distances. Whether it's developing new products, designing complex systems, or troubleshooting technical issues, remote engineering solutions can help businesses stay competitive and agile in today's rapidly changing market.

- Communication Tools

Effective communication is crucial to solving remote work challenges. Many tools are available to facilitate remote communication, such as video conferencing software like Zoom or Microsoft Teams, chat platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams and project management software like Asana or Trello.

It is important to select the right tools that work best for your team's needs and ensure everyone is comfortable using them. To make the most of these tools, establish clear communication protocols that everyone on the team understands, such as response times and communication channels.

- Boundaries

Boundaries are critical for remote workers to avoid burnout and maintain a healthy work-life balance. To establish clear boundaries, set specific work hours and stick to them. This includes not checking emails or responding to messages outside of work hours.

Avoid working in bed or the living room, as this can blur the lines between work and personal life. Instead, encourage remote workers to take breaks and recharge from work.

- Collaboration

Collaboration and socialization are essential for remote teams to stay connected and engaged. Regular team meetings and virtual coffee breaks can help build community and promote team bonding.

It's also important to ensure remote workers access the same information and resources as in-office team members. Motivate employees to participate in team-building activities and social events to stay connected and engaged.

- Mental Health

Remote work can be isolating, and it's important to prioritize mental health to avoid burnout and maintain productivity. Encourage employees to take breaks and prioritize self-care, such as exercise, meditation, or hobbies.

Remote work can be liberating, but it can also be stressful and lonely. As an employer, it's essential to prioritize the mental health of your remote workforce. Hence, you should consider offering them access to counseling services, mental health hotlines, or employee assistance programs to help them cope with stress, anxiety and other mental health challenges that they may be facing.

By doing so, you're not only showing that you care about their well-being but also fostering a culture of trust and support that can help your employees thrive and achieve their best work.

Bottom Line

These are only a few reasons organizational culture holds significance, but they serve as a useful beginning to prompt consideration of your organization's offerings. Of course, the importance may vary based on your company's circumstances.

What should you do next? First, determine which aspects of your organizational culture matter the most to your employees and consider conducting a culture audit. Your objective is to identify the most valued aspects and prioritize their support. Congratulations, you have taken a step towards establishing an exceptional workplace.

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Frequently Asked Questions

How does remote working impact culture?

Eliminating the need for employees to be tied to a physical office created an opportunity to build more diverse teams and create an inclusive workplace. No longer restricted by geography, hiring managers could focus on finding candidates based on their skill set rather than their location.

Does remote work affect organizational culture and innovation?

Yes, remote work can affect organizational culture and innovation. It can impact communication, collaboration and the sense of community within a company, which are all important elements of organizational culture. However, it can also foster innovation by providing opportunities for more diverse and inclusive teams and enabling more flexible and efficient work processes. The overall impact will depend on how remote work is implemented and managed within the organization.

What is the biggest problem with remote work?

The main challenges with remote work include excessive workload, loneliness, excessive meetings and insufficient in-person interactions. Developing effective routines is crucial for success in remote work, but it can be difficult to break unhealthy habits.

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