Covid, remote working and surprising influence of purpose

COVID-19 has forced an unprecedented shift to dispersed and remote working for organisations across the globe.

Leading organisations are adapting their thinking with extraordinary speed. PwC anticipates that most of its 22,000 UK staff and Tata Consultancy Services 75% of its 450,000 global workforce will work from home in the post-COVID-19 world.

In fact, 86% of UK CEOs say there is an enduring shift towards remote collaboration. And 98% of people would like the option to work remotely for the rest of their career with 84% of them feeling able to perform as effectively working remotely as in the office.*

“The notion of putting 7,000 people in a building may be a thing of the past” Jes Staley CEO Barclays Bank

But there’s a problem. Most organisations are finding they are not terribly good at managing remote teams in a way that gets the best from their people.

Our measurement system explains why this is so. And provides a blueprint for building happy, productive and innovative remote teams.  Teams with at least a 50% increase in feelings of commitment and behaviours of responsibility.

The numbers show something remarkable. Remote workers appear hyper-sensitive to the positive impact of organisational purpose.  And that has huge implications.

Of course, the numbers show that employees who identify with organisational purpose are significantly more engaged than average colleagues wherever they work. But the impact of purpose on feelings of commitment and responsibility amongst remote workers is a remarkable three times stronger than amongst  their office-based peers.

Why is this so? Why does bringing purpose to life appear to have such a marked impact on remote workers?

Purpose appears to effectively bridge the social distance of remote work.

“One basic difference between [dispersed] global teams that work and those that don’t lies in the level of social distance—the degree of emotional connection among team members. Mitigating social distance therefore becomes the primary management challenge for the global team leader”. 

Tsedal Neeley, Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration, Harvard

The numbers show that in remote teams, the emotional connection that an activated purpose creates leads to significantly higher levels of productivity, a greater ability to sustain autonomous work and dramatically stronger feelings of responsibility, care and commitment.  As well as impacting motivation and mental health.

And that has huge implications as we move into an increasingly dispersed way of working in a post COVID world.

*PwC, World Economic Forum /Buffer State of Remote Work Survey

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