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It’s Tough to Build, Sustain Culture in a Remote-work World

Many employees feel disconnected as work feels transactional

Rita Ramakrishnan started as head of people and talent at the real estate startup Cadre in April 2020. She had moved from San Francisco to New York for the job, where she planned to oversee the growing startup's workplace culture. Ramakrishnan had all kinds of plans, but she never made it to the office; instead, she spent her first months converting her new apartment into a home workspace. The experience reminded her of an old saying: Man plans, and God laughs.

Ramakrishnan's job was to make people feel connected at work. But now, with everyone working in home office silos, connection seemed impossible. She'd been told about rituals that felt precious to Cadre employees: mingling over drinks on Thursday, bagels every Friday morning. "We tried to recreate that with a virtual happy hour," she said. "It didn't really work." Other things worked better, like a Zoom social hour paired with real bagels, paid for by the company. But none of it approximated the magic of meeting your coworkers, none of whom Ramakrishnan had yet seen in person.

Two years later, most of Cadre's employees are still working from home—and will be for some time to come. Like many businesses, it has embraced a "hybrid" working model, opening its office to vaccinated employees while allowing others to work remotely if they want. Three-quarters of its current workforce started during the pandemic, meaning the remote work culture is all they have ever known. The question of whether those employees feel a sense of belonging is a serious concern for Ramakrishnan.

Please select this link to read the complete article from WIRED.

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