Greetings, comms pros! Let’s take a look at some news stories from the past week and see what we can learn from them.
1 . Atlassian, Airbnb buck the trend of opposition to remote work, further support for remote employees
Think that remote work is going away? Despite the efforts of some employers to restrict or eliminate it, it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. And some companies are bucking the larger trend against remote work, instead providing much needed support and encouragement for those who do their jobs away from a physical office.
Atlassian has committed to a workplace model without mandatory office attendance, Annie Dean, the company’s vice president of “team anywhere,” said in an interview. With more than 11,000 employees, Atlassian is “the largest company in the world committed to distributed work at this scale,” she said.
Remote collaboration with periodic in-person gatherings boosts productivity and allows the Australian-founded software company to recruit better talent, Dean said. More than half of the people hired during the last year live over two hours from an office, she said.
Also holding out against the return-to-office movement is Airbnb Inc., which has said its roughly 6,000 employees can work from anywhere with regular meet-ups structured around product releases. Software company Twilio Inc. has no office-return rules for its 6,400 employees — about 60% of its workforce is in locations where the firm historically hasn’t had offices, Chief Executive Officer Jeff Lawson said in a March interview. Autodesk Inc., Dropbox Inc., Okta Inc. and Gitlab Inc. are other tech employers without mandatory office attendance.
“At a time when many companies are requiring employees to return to the office a certain number of days per week, Autodesk will stay the course and has no plans for corporate return-to-office mandates for hybrid and remote-based employees, Rebecca Pearce, chief people officer at Autodesk,” which had 13,7000 employees as of January, wrote in a blog post.
Encouraging stuff! Just because your company is remote doesn’t mean it can’t nurture a robust, meaningful and positive culture — it just requires you to deploy different tools and tactics than the ones used in office situations, along with an added layer of consideration for digital communications etiquette and burnout. No matter the work situation in your organization — remote, hybrid, or in-office — it’s incumbent upon you as a communicator to share what the expectations are, transparently and in a way that helps to boost company culture to make your company a place people want to work for and remain with for the long term.
2. Target CEO says he wants stores to be a ‘happy place’ after Pride Month controversy
Following some of the hubbub around the retail chain’s Pride Month merchandise rollout, Target’s leadership is looking to take a new approach in the future.
Target plans to fine-tune its merchandising approach to heritage months such as Pride Month after some consumer unrest weighed on sales in the second quarter.
“Listening to the guest feedback and evolving is part of what we do every day,” Target chief growth officer Christina Hennington said on a media call on the company’s second quarter earnings. “Some of the changes we’ll make to our heritage month collections going forward will look like this: We’ll have a slightly more focused assortment and will evolve our store and digital presentations, and we’re going to reconsider the mix of our own national brands with our external partners. And so … you’ll see us celebrate these heritage moments, but with these modifications.”
Target CEO Brian Cornell told Yahoo Finance on the call that consumers view Target as their “happy place,” and the retailer will do what it can to lean into that expectation.
There are a few things to be gleaned from this news. It’s positive to see executive comms from a large company outwardly saying it is directly listening to its consumers, but seeing the company reevaluate the platform it has given to diverse partners and representation will not come without criticism from some. This is where knowing your company’s core values by heart comes in handy. By continuously reinforcing and communicating them, you can look at them as a means to support your intentions behind certain corporate decisions that might not be popular with all stakeholders.
3. How to build a culture that empowers employees to speak up
Everybody wants to work at a company with a great, positive culture. But a big key to building one is having practices in place that encourage employees to speak their minds.
Let’s put speaking up into perspective. For the average employee, speaking up is risky business because it introduces maximum personal risk. According to our global survey research, which now includes nearly 50,000 data points across 834 organizations, speaking up lives at the intersection of the top six most vulnerable behaviors from the 20 behaviors we measure in our Ladder of Vulnerability survey.
Here are those six behaviors, ranked from most vulnerable to less-vulnerable:
- Giving an incorrect answer
- Making a mistake
- Expressing your emotions
- Expressing disagreement
- Pointing out a mistake
- Challenging the way things are done
In my interviews with employees around the world, I ask them why they hesitate to speak up. The response patterns are always the same: They fear social rejection and repercussions that would damage their reputation, personal standing, and upward mobility. Not least, many say that speaking up amounts to putting their job at risk. They fear being fired.
Organizations that want to establish speak-up cultures are effectively asking their employees to engage in the above behaviors. But without the right level or psychological safety, not many will accept the invitation to do so.
The article goes on to identify four ways to create situations in which employees feel better about speaking up, including separating worth from worthiness, separating loyalty from agreement, separating status from opinion, and separating permission from adoption.
That’s a lot to take in! But a great company culture relies on knowledge of the diverse perspectives within an organization, and if people don’t speak up you can’t really drill down into those views. The only way to learn what your people need is to let them speak, and communicators are in the best position to create those platforms.
4. How about some good news?
- A new study revealed that acts of kindness are frequent and universal
- Scientists discovered how to turn plastic waste into soap
- A teddy bear found at a yard sale could stand to fetch a pretty penny
- Ragan Training is great for communications pros to find inspiration and resources.
- You should be rewarded for your work. Find out how to earn an award here!
Have a great weekend comms all-stars!
Sean Devlin is an editor at Ragan Communications. In his spare time he enjoys Philly sports, a good pint and ’90s trivia night.