On September 6, 2022, Chris Gomez, CEO of our partner Barrett Values Centre (BVC), talked to our Member Success Manager Quennie Potes about the importance of Conscious Culture for remote teams and how BVC has led by example as a fully remote workplace, even before the pandemic.
During this broad conversation, Chris offers tips on how to create an efficient remote culture, ways to motivate and rally distributed teams around a shared purpose, how to consciously lead in a virtual setting, and more.
Here are six stand-out aspects Chris shares as crucial pieces of a conscious remote culture.
The first aspect of building a conscious remote culture is to connect every employee to the organization’s shared purpose.
“It all starts off with a sense of shared purpose and that’s purpose with a big P…” Chris explains right away, then referring to the notion that the majority of employees want to be able to connect with a company’s reason for existing and to align themselves with the difference it exists to make on the world.
“It all starts off with a sense of shared purpose and that’s purpose with a big P…”
To create that alignment, especially for distributed teams where interactions may be more limited, it’s important to use what time is available to reconnect to the company’s core values and purpose.
“I’ve learned, as a leader, that just when I think I’m talking about that enough, I’m only doing that about fifty-percent of the time I should be talking about it. So sharing that sense of purpose, having employees be able to connect into that, is a vital piece.”
With a fully remote team of their own, BVC provides other organizations with the training, tools, and support they need to build and sustain high-performing, values-driven cultures.
Continuing on the topic of connecting distributed employees to one another, Chris recalled the early months of the pandemic where BVC clients were focused on a major concern for their now-virtual workforces: how would they sustain a sense of connection?
“We’re social beings and connection is incredibly important,” Chris says, offering that at his own company, they made the decision to double the number of connection-focused activities during the pandemic. Even as a workforce that’s always been remote, it was important that BVC fill in the social voids that many were feeling so that employees did not feel alone.
When Chris mentions conversation as a crucial aspect of efficient remote cultures, he means intentional dialogue around how the company can do better by its staff, and also what the company needs from its employees too.
Chris explains, “…the thing that we often … try to understand through our own culture assessments is, ‘What are the needs of the employees and what are the needs of the business? And how do we align them?’ And we have conversations around that.”
These conversations often give light to the important feedback, new ideas, and opportunities to learn, that company’s need to thrive and that employees need to perform their best.
For employers wondering about what is possibly the most important aspect of a Conscious Culture, Chris flags this one above the others: “My guidance and invitation really is conversation. … That’s the foundational element to really making a cohesive unit work.”
When new ideas fall flat, it’s important to keep pushing, taking the shortcomings as opportunities to pivot and grow.
For Chris, any Conscious Culture, remote or in-office, is not a destination, it’s a never-ending journey of learning: “We constantly work on it. We have some successes and some moments of learning … it’s not a tick-the-box kind of exercise, it’s not a policy document, it’s not a binary decision.”
In constantly striving to do what will work in the best interests of both the company and its employees, Chris and the BVC works within the specific context of his distributed team’s unique needs For other leaders and employers to create their own successful models, Chris encourages that they ask questions to develop an understanding of their own workplaces and the ways it may change over time.
“Every business and every leader is going to face slightly different contexts and you have to understand what your environment is.”
Chris has seen firsthand some of the ways remote work presents opportunities for innovation and a chance to rethink the way we work.
“To me, the gift is … the invitation for a different business model. I know in the Conscious Capitalism philosophy, we’re looking to transform the way business is done,” Chris says, continuing that the rise in remote workforces has “highlighted a fallacy that most people have bought into in terms of you can only be productive in an office. We’ve had these rigid paradigms of how business needs to operate, and the pandemic opened the window.”
In many ways, remote work has been shown to increase productivity and boost employee moods. Taking these aspects and using them to drive innovation is an opportunity for virtual teams everywhere.
Finally, in light of the pandemic and the trauma and crisis many have experienced over the last few years, Chris encourages remote leaders to take it easy on themselves and their teams when they don’t get it right the first time.
“Be gentle with yourself and be gentle with your staff. … A lot of us are still understanding the impact and trauma of the pandemic and the mental health challenges that we’re all facing from it.”
As businesses continue to weigh the pros and cons of remote and distributed workforces, remembering that we are all continuing to figure out the best way forward relieves the pressure and stress associated with getting it right the first time so that we can collectively continue to learn and grow together.
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