This article includes excerpts from Virtual Culture: The Way We Work Doesn’t Work Anymore, by CEO and Co-Founder of BELAY and all-around awesome virtual culture walk-the-walk leader, Bryan Miles.
Not-so-shocking newsflash: The workforce has changed a lot since the Industrial Revolution.
As the consolidation of computing power changed how we work, the evolution from a massive machine to something that can be held in the palm of your hand has made work an executable service that only requires the brain.
So while many companies don’t have conveyor belts and assembly lines anymore, they still operate like they do – and treat their employees like they do, too.
In fact, if you think about what offices look like today, it’s the same thing: They put people in lines of cubicles and put managers around them to make sure they are doing what they need to do.
This organizational model, however, is a holdout from the industrial age and has no place in our evolving workplace.
No longer do employees need to stand in a line along a conveyor belt assembling the parts of a sewing machine. They can execute their work from an airplane, a coffee shop – heck – even on the back of a galloping horse if they wanted to.
But this evolution has left many questioning what will have to change when where we work changes, not the least of which is company culture.
So here are five benefits of virtual culture that can preserve – and improve – your existing brick-and-mortar culture when making the leap to a virtual workforce.
Give Your Commute The Boot
According to the U.S. Census, there were a little over 139 million workers commuting in 2014. At an average of twenty-six minutes each way to work, five days a week, fifty weeks a year, that equates to approximately 1.8 trillion minutes – or 29.6 billion hours, 1.2 billion days, or a collective 3.4 million years.
But by eliminating that commute, you’d not only provide a greater quality of life for your employees, but you’d also untap about three hours a day – or 750 extra hours per year – in potential productivity.
No More One-Schedule Fits All
Another intangible benefit of virtual culture is the workplace flexibility that comes with going remote. A virtual employee can take their child to the doctor at 10 a.m. on a Tuesday. They can tend to that sick child without guilt because they aren’t punching a clock.
At BELAY, our hope is to impact the futures of children whose parents can suddenly invest more hours of the day in them. That is an intangible virtual culture gift that is priceless.
Being virtual is green. When you work virtually, you use less paper. You don’t have an office space, which requires a lot of energy for a conditioned environment and electricity. You use less gas in your car, and you contribute less to pollution because you are no longer commuting.
Companies with a virtual culture can tell a great story about their environmental stewardship. And not for nothing, but we all feel a little haughty when we know we’re doing something good for the environment, right?
‘Paper or plastic?’
‘Neither,’ you reply smugly. ‘I brought my own.’
The Butterfly Effect Of Trust
By its very design, virtual culture is laid squarely on a foundation of trust. And there is a snowball effect when you create an atmosphere of trust. When employees feel trusted, the feeling spills over into their relationships with contractors, vendors and customers. Further, employees begin to assume the best in others, too.
Too often, companies treat customers like they are the problem because their workplace has become toxic, uncertain, fleeced with policies, and unfun. But when you approach problems with trust, it paves the way for meaningful connections, both internally and externally.
The win happens not just inside your company, but outside of it, too.
Foster An Attitude Of Gratitude
At BELAY, one of our six values is gratitude. And we chose gratitude because we believe that if you really want to make a change with yourself, you must start by being grateful for all of the things you already have.
So we regularly show gratitude in our company through something we’ve lovingly named the ‘frugal WOW’ – and that has drastically impacted our culture for the better.
Our frugal WOWs are not gifts that commemorate milestones; rather, it’s our way of showing gratitude to our employees to let them know that we see them and the awesome job they’re doing.
From BBQ spices for someone who loves to cook, to monogrammed guitar picks to someone who loves to play guitar, to gift cards, books, and handwritten notes, our frugal WOWs are a small gesture of gratitude that evokes a big warm-and-fuzzy for the very people who make literally everything possible at BELAY.
But listen. We understand that the idea of change can prove daunting. Overwhelming and seemingly impossible even. But the more people told us we couldn’t create a virtual culture, the more we believed we could.
And now we have. Not only did we prove the naysayers wrong, but we proved them wrong in a big way. Why? Because we believe that one day, office-bound employees are just going to say, ‘We’re done.’
They are going to get up from their desks and walk away from companies that don’t understand that personal and professional flexibility is more valuable than money or benefits.
And where will they go? To companies that offer them fair pay, flexibility, a meaningful why, more time with their families, a highly limited commute, and a life.
The worker of tomorrow is not the worker of today. They’re longing for a virtual culture. Create it for them.