In this segment of “Office Optional with Larry English,” Larry discusses how you can discover if a company’s culture is a good fit when interviewing for remote roles.
As the Great Reshuffle churns on, employees continue to look for new opportunities that better align with their desires for work-life balance and flexibility.
According to the 2022 ADP People at Work report, 64 percent of employees would seek out a new job if they were forced back to the office full time. More than half of employees would accept a pay cut rather than give up flexibility and at least some time working remotely.
As the Great Reshuffle churns on, employees continue to look for new opportunities that better align with their desires for work-life balance and flexibility. The recent Microsoft Word Trend Index found that employees highly value positive culture, mental health and wellbeing benefits, flexible work hours and generous paid vacation time.
So how do you ensure you land at an organization that has a positive remote culture and truly supports remote work? Here’s what to look out for during the recruiting process:
Remote or hybrid work has full buy-in from the C-suite.
A lack of enthusiastic support from company leaders could be a huge red flag — the last thing you want to do is land a new job only to suddenly have to go back to the office full time or on company-mandated days. During interviews, be sure to ask why a company offers remote work. Does it sound as if they offer it begrudgingly because employees demand it? Or are they happy to grant employees the flexibility because they believe it’s a better way of working?
Candidates aren’t excluded based on geography.
If the job listing specifies employees must be within a small radius of the company’s headquarters, that could be a warning sign. While requiring employees to be in a certain area isn’t a guarantee the company hasn’t fully embraced remote work, it does mean you’ll want to ask some questions about its approach to remote work.
The company has established remote work policies.
When Covid-19 sent organizations into remote mode overnight, most just winged it, doing their best in the face of an unprecedented crisis.
Well, that was more than two years ago. If companies are going to permanently embrace remote work, they’ve had plenty of time to intentionally build policies to support remote workers.
Some signs that a company has a well-thought-out hybrid workplace strategy:
- Employees get a remote work allowance for optimizing their home office
- Employees have the option to become digital nomads
- There are no strict rules around when employees must be at their desks
- Remote workers are evaluated by results achieved, not hours worked.
The company is skilled at working asynchronously.
During interviews, ask what a typical day looks like as a remote worker. Nonstop virtual meetings could mean the company hasn’t effectively transitioned into a more asynchronous mode of working. Employee exhaustion caused by too many meetings is a pervasive issue — the 2022 Microsoft Work Trend Index found that meetings are up 252 percent since March 2020.
Remote collaboration tools also provide insights into a company’s comfort level with asynchronous work. Has the company invested in quality tools and training to ensure remote workers know how to use them? Do they use one suite of tools for all their remote work needs, or have they overwhelmed employees with numerous tools with overlapping capabilities?
The company treats remote workers as valued, human members of the team.
Without strong relationships, remote workers can easily become disconnected and disengaged. Does the company have strategies or policies in place for ensuring remote employees occasionally get together in person? Do they value employees connecting on a human level? How do they facilitate employees building their internal network? Does being remote effect promotion criteria?
The company lives its core values.
A company’s values only mean something if they actually live those values daily. Turn the tables on the interviewers and ask for some recent examples of their company values in action. If they can’t answer this question, employees most likely don’t really know the values, and the platitudes posted online aren’t a true reflection of the culture.
Be sure to ask this question of everyone you talk to throughout the process. If the stories all align and the culture sounds healthy, it probably is. If there are culture issues, you’ll hear discrepancies.
The company accepts that remote work means life and work won’t always fit in neat boxes.
Finally, you can learn a lot by paying attention during any video interviews. I recently gave a virtual talk to a company. I saw dogs and babies briefly on laps and the team started the call with a brief kudos moment. From this quick observation, I could tell they have a caring and supportive culture and make it OK for personal life to intersect with work-life — a reality of working from home.
As employees continue to reevaluate their priorities and plan their next steps, they’ll be looking for opportunities that will let them live a more balanced life with greater well-being. Before accepting a job offer, it’s important to evaluate whether a company has truly committed to remote or hybrid work and has put the resources and policies in place to ensure remote workers thrive.