How purpose can increase remote worker engagement post COVID-19

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

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.  They are missing the key ingredient to increase remote worker engagement – purpose.  The numbers show that employees who identify with their organisation’s purpose are significantly more engaged than average colleagues. 

The remote working trend in leading companies

Leading organisations are adapting their thinking with extraordinary speed. 

  • PwC anticipates that most of its 22,000 UK staff will work from home while Tata Consultancy Services anticipates 75% of its 450,000 global workforce will do the same.
  • 86% of UK CEOs say there is an enduring shift towards remote collaboration. 
  • 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

The challenge with remote working and how purpose is the solution

As we mentioned, most organisations find it difficult to manage remote teams effectively. Our measurement system, the Contexis Index, 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

The Contexis Index

Our purpose measurement system, the Contexis Index, helps leaders to understand how purpose is really working to shift beliefs and behaviours across their organisation.  The Contexis Index was developed in conjunction with researchers at Cambridge University to provide real numbers by focusing on the impact of purpose on the DNA of the organisation itself, while answering two questions:

to what extent is purpose driving performance in my organisation?

how and why is it working, and where is it blocked?

In the era of remote working, the Contexis Index can help organisations understand the degree to which purpose is driving employee performance.  We believe that the higher the context of both performance and engagement is alignment with the organisational purpose and the existence of trust within the organisation itself.

The Contexis Index measures the root cause of engagement and productivity at its source within the context of the business’s strategic direction.

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