As more companies go fully or partially remote following the pandemic, more executives and HR leaders are asking themselves how to successfully build remote workplace culture for their remote teams. After all, the future of work is largely remote.
With traditional in-office settings, it is much easier for workplace culture to evolve organically based on common interests and goals. The in-office experience allows for like-minded individuals to collaborate together and get to know each other in-person, connecting through shared experiences like meals, sporting events, and other activities. It’s also much easier to set up team building activities in the office setting and help steer employees towards valuing the principles behind your organization.
For those working remotely, developing a strong remote work culture is trickier. If workers feel disconnected, you are likely to have high turnover rates. In these cases, remote workers are less likely to become passionate about their work and might even fail to connect and empathize with customers.
Here is our guide explaining why building a remote workplace culture is so important, as well as 8 strategies you can implement when developing remote culture.
Workplace culture affects how your employees and customers perceive your company. If your stakeholders view the business positively, you will be able to build a more successful business.
Remote company culture helps define an organization's main goals and missions, and gives your workforce a set of values to uphold in their day-to-day work.
A strong remote workplace culture should:
Explain the company purpose
Improve employee engagement
Help retain employees and build their careers
Give employees a sense of belonging
Remote workplaces will have to work a bit harder to instill culture because there is no way for it to develop naturally in-person through face-to-face human connection.
It might take a little bit more work and some creativity to develop a remote workplace culture. By being deliberate in your strategies, you can create a work experience that is just as meaningful–if not more meaningful–than the traditional office setting. After all, remote work allows many key advantages, including hiring and recruiting workers from across the country–and even the world.
One of the first steps in building any workplace culture is to make the work environment safe and welcoming. You should introduce employees to their team and managers early-on, beginning with the interview process. New hires should know who they’ll be working with and feel comfortable talking to them in a way that builds trust with your new colleagues.
Leaders should make themselves available to employees with weekly 1:1 meetings. Weekly check-in’s allow both parties to talk about the progress in their projects, listen and give constructive feedback, and address any challenges or roadblocks with stellar communication.
If an employee is working remotely on a group collaboration, you should set up weekly meetings over Zoom or Google Meet to track and monitor their progress. If issues happen both for the individual or the team, try to encourage productive ways of hashing out the issue between one another in a manner that promotes personal growth.
Onboarding employees is a key step to introducing them to company culture. Make sure that either the hiring manager or HR (or whoever is in charge of onboarding) begins the process right away.
You should give new employees all of the tools on or before the first day and spend time explaining and building culture. This includes the employee handbook, an onboarding plan, and a clear overview of their job description. Expectations will change over the course of employment, but this gives your new team members an excellent starting point for understanding their new position.
Most importantly, consider onboarding in groups. This helps eliminate any redundancies during the process, while also allowing people to interact with each other and start building camaraderie.
Whether your company is a large enterprise or small startup, there will be an overlaying vision that dictates how company culture can be developed. Messages from leadership should express this vision succinctly, especially if your employees are working remotely.
You should have a clear way of describing exactly what products or services you’re trying to sell to your customer base, as well as strategies for how you plan to reinforce your vision, especially for diversity, inclusion, and equity.
For some employees, they may feel that in a remote work environment, they have to always respond to everyone immediately to show that they are active in the workday. However, this may be counterproductive and hamper their ability to complete assigned projects and goals.
Give employees time frames or even days to block out for uninterrupted focus on their given tasks. If something is urgent, let your team know ahead of time so that they can plan accordingly.
Management should also set aside space for a work-life balance that allows employees to prioritize their physical and mental health. Encourage yoga meetups that help employees build relationships outside of work. Leave ample time for your workforce to enjoy a healthy lunch.
Going along with prioritizing individual work, try to set up video calls and group meetings on the same days each week. This, for example, mimics how employees would meet in the physical office setting and allows them to have a sense of normalcy when working from home. You should have team building activities, individual meetings, department meetings, and any other weekly occurrences blocked out on their schedule at the same time.
Everyone will have a different way of viewing the workday and how they complete projects and the amount of time they need to spend on each task. Some remote employees might do their best work in the evenings, others in the mornings. Allow your team to be flexible, as long as they meet deadlines and submit excellent work.
A great way to figure out these differences is to have employees take personality or work assessments on their own. The tool 16 personalities is a quick, easy, and free test that breaks down exactly what learning styles work best for different personality types.
The easiest way to develop remote workplace culture is to encourage employees to collaborate together. Try to sit down with new hires early on in their employment in a video chat and ask about their goals and any passion projects they may have. You may find that there are other employees in your workforce who have similar goals or interests that you can pair together.
You could also provide casual hangouts and meetings outside of the work realm that gives employees a chance to talk and get to know each other in a way that mimics the office setting, especially for workers that live near each other geographically. This can help employees feel like they belong to the company culture.
Try collaboration tools like Slack, Microsoft Teams, Asana, and Notion.
Encouraging your workers to be independent is necessary for personal, professional, and business growth, but that doesn’t mean they have all the answers or always recognize opportunities. Instead of only popping up when trying to dictate a project or for a weekly meeting, leaders need to make themselves available to their remote employees if and when a question or problem arises.
No matter what, always focus on the positives and frame negatives as areas for improvement. The bottom line? Be a leader, instead of a boss or micromanager. Ask questions, too! Your direct reporters will appreciate it.
Together, leads can create a culture that focuses on building and maintaining a healthy remote work experience.
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