by Ginni Saraswati, owner and founder of Ginni Media
Way before Zoom meetings became the new normal, in the days before most of us saw Carbi B’s clip of her yelling “coronavirus,” in 2020, I was already managing a remote workforce. My team has been accustomed to virtual meetings and all-day pajama pants since 2018. So, by the time Covid-19 launched the remote work revolution, we were already on our way.
This meant that a lot of the fears and concerns I was hearing from employers in the media about people working from home, well let’s just say I had a hunch on what was really going on.
“People don’t resist change. They resist being changed.”
These are the words of the American writer and MIT systems scientist Peter Senge. As co-founder of the Society for Organizational Learning, he’s spent a lot of time researching what lies beneath the corporate resistance to change.
Let’s talk about the fears, and then look at the facts.
Change makes the future feel uncertain.
It’s the “We’ve always done it this way. It works. Why change?” mentality. So, when something like a pandemic pulls the rug from underneath your feet, panic sets in. It’s understandable that everyone would want things to get back to “normal” ASAP.
Company culture will suffer.
The all-important water cooler conversations and coffee break brainstorm sessions are off the table when there is no table, or office, for that matter. The fear is that if these spontaneous meetings cease to exist, then along with them go the great ideas they could hypothetically generate.
Office buildings are expensive.
The investment corporations have made in physical workspaces looms large. Whether it’s purchased real estate or a hefty long-term lease, unused physical space isn’t a good look from an accounting perspective.
Remote work is a growing trend.
A 2022 study demonstrated that 52% of participants would accept a slight pay decrease if given the option to work remotely. A 2020 report conducted by Upwork, the popular freelance platform, projects an 87% increase in the remote workforce by 2025. That’s a whopping 87% jump from pre-pandemic remote work numbers. Remote work is rising in popularity and it doesn’t show signs of slowing down.
It expands your talent pool by 15%.
Championing a remote option isn’t just popular these days, it actually allows you to be more selective about your hiring choices. It evens the playing field for people with accessibility issues and the neurodiverse. Getting to an office requires reliable transportation and accessibility accommodations. An office environment also might not be the most comfortable space for neurodiverse individuals.
Maxine Williams, the Chief Diversity Officer of Meta Platforms, saw a 4.7% to 6.2% uptick in applicants with disabilities and those from more diverse backgrounds since 2019 when they began to offer remote options. Remote work options offer a clear competitive advantage to employers and from a creative perspective, bring a vast experience of background and culture.
With a clearer definition of company culture, your team can thrive.
What is company culture, exactly? I believe it’s a combination of shared values that foster a sense of belonging among colleagues. Does that necessarily require a shared roof over our heads to thrive? Not in my experience.
In a remote workforce, Slack is the shared roof, Zoom is the conference room and Asana is literally the project management board. The key to this is intentionality. By creating intentional spaces for non-work-related conversations to take place, we’re still having those water-cooler conversations. I make a point to celebrate birthdays, company milestones, and shout-outs for positive feedback from clients. What isn’t said is felt, so I make it a point to celebrate the wins, communicate as soon as needed, and invest the time into building relationships as a foundation for a thriving workforce.
At our core, we’re a customer-focused creative media company. Each podcast episode we produce requires a team effort. This collaborative nature is the fabric of our company culture. So, for my business, teamwork is written into the recipe.
When it comes to change, we naturally default to fear. But when you’re able to step back and give change a chance, you might be surprised at what you find. Over the long term, companies lower their overhead costs while simultaneously increasing diversity. By offering today’s workforce something they clearly desire, you’re contributing to their overall job satisfaction and increasing the likelihood that they’ll stick around. And in today’s world, that kind of loyalty is something that even money can’t buy.
Ginni Saraswati is the CEO and founder of Ginni Media, a NYC based podcast production company producing award-winning podcasts. She’s also an award-winning journalist and the host of The Ginni Show and PodPops.