Last week, Porter Novelli London hosted an event on remote working and the power of purpose in engaging employees.
During the session they heard from three high profile leaders from the world of law, beverages and telecoms – Tom Leman (Partner, Pinsent Masons), Greg Bargeton (former Group General Counsel, William Grant & Sons) and Nikhil Patel (CEO, Go (Malta Telecom) – about their experiences of remote working, employee engagement and the role purpose plays in relation to these. There was also an introduction to the Contexis Index® from John Rosling, CEO of Contexis.
Key takeaways included:
- The latest research suggests that the ‘social distance’ of remote work is fundamentally damaging to the ability of teams to function effectively over the mid to long term, due to an erosion of trust and connection (1).
- But a company’s purpose can play a critical role in bridging that social distance, with evidence that feelings of trust and commitment were dramatically stronger amongst remote workers who identified with organisational purpose (2).
- Purpose needs to be activated to have these positive impacts. People feel sustained levels of connection and commitment when they see purpose consistently driving organisational behaviours, when they feel trusted and safe, and when they feel a strong sense of personal ownership. Authenticity, particularly for remote workers, is key.
- We heard from Tom that a clear purpose had made the move to a dispersed working model much easier than anticipated and that, far from being a hindrance, remote working had made the firm far more international, enabling them to source talent from more geographical locations, and democratising decision-making as more people cross-levels can easily be involved.
- From Greg, we learnt about the power of creating a remote working task force, drawing from across the business and helping ensure that the wellbeing of people (rather than the business) remained the top priority. And from Nikhil that remote working can in fact be a route to empower employees around decision making, and improve the way you work operationally.
- Professor Tsedal Neeley, Naylor Fitzhugh Professor of Business Administration, Harvard
- Contexis Index of Organisational Effectiveness (2021)