Remote operations have become a key part of the contemporary employment landscape. Where once it was largely limited to a handful of roles and industries, it has now moved firmly into the mainstream. The COVID-19 pandemic may have been a prompt for some businesses to adopt this distanced approach, but it is the discovery of the range of benefits it brings that encourages companies to make it a more permanent fixture.
This isn’t to say remote work isn’t without its challenges. Many businesses are finding it particularly difficult to build and maintain a strong and supportive culture. Without this essential cohesion in place, it is unlikely a business can function let alone thrive.
We’re going to examine some of the ways your company can build a successful remote company culture.
One of the benefits of an in-office operation is there are frequent and convenient opportunities to demonstrate your appreciation to workers. Unfortunately, there is a tendency in remote teams for members’ achievements to go unrecognized. Geographical distance and lack of daily visibility mean bosses too frequently overlook how much of a difference to positive culture even subtle gestures can make.
A formal recognition program can be a vital tool. Showing your appreciation to remote workers regularly can minimize the isolation they feel and boost morale across the organization. This could include scheduling virtual events each month to highlight team performance and encouraging mutual performance recognition among team members. It can also be wise to identify certain project or performance milestones so you can have small gifts or treats delivered to relevant team members upon reaching these goals.
These types of programs are usually most effective when they’re applied consistently. Importantly, talk to your remote team about how your recognition program is being implemented and set their expectations for engagement.
Training and development have taken a roughly similar form for decades. This has largely been a matter of in-person training sessions and mentorships to help workers progress through the company and their careers. Unfortunately, many businesses don’t yet have a handle on how to translate this to remorse operations. Yet, this is a vital aspect of strong company culture.
For starters, it helps show otherwise isolated employees you are committed to supporting their career goals. This in turn can have a positive impact on retention. It also ensures you have a dynamic range of skills within your company. You’ll find this is especially important if you’re making tech changes to your business, as digital transformation is most effective with full employee adoption. When you invest in training your remote staff in new digital technology, this improves their confidence and their advocacy of such systems. It also gives them the tools to innovate.
Thankfully, there is an increasing number of methods that support remote learning practices. Help your employees engage with relevant e-learning courses. Gather the team together for group sessions using collaborative software platforms. Make certain your workers have access to mentors both through online communication and occasional in-person meet-ups where possible.
One of the most prevalent challenges for remote teams is maintaining effective communication. This isn’t just a practical hurdle to productivity, either. Without your staff being able to easily and meaningfully communicate with their colleagues, the overall culture of your business is likely to be weaker. You, therefore, need to make certain there are solid communication protocols in place for your remote workers.
Firstly, it’s worth reviewing what communications tools you’re using. While there are a lot of platforms available at the moment, utilizing a collection of these can potentially hamper your efforts. If your workers have to jump between Skype for weekly video meetings, Slack for messages, and Asana for project-related discussions, this can be frustrating. As such, your staff may be less likely to fully engage. Wherever possible, utilize platforms that combine multiple options for communication in a single package.
You also need to provide your team with clarity about the communications protocols for your business. Be explicit about what communications channels to use for which circumstances. Importantly, be demonstrative in using these yourself. Lead by example with consistent practices.
Unfortunately, it is common for remote teams to struggle with forging bonds. Not being in the same physical space as one another during work periods can be a hurdle to gaining easy collegial friendships. As such, without focused effort, your company culture misses out on strong peer support networks and camaraderie. Indeed, one recent report found 70% of workers polled believe colleague friendships are key to a happy working life.
As such, you need to commit to regular efforts to facilitate bonds between remote coworkers. On the most basic level, this means finding ways for employees to get to know one another a little better. Provide them with a casual chat channel on your remote messaging system. Structure your weekly team meetings to include a few minutes for everyone to talk about how their week has been.
Wherever possible, it can also be effective to rotate team leadership duties for group activities. This gives everyone a chance to highlight their individual approaches to project management and teams gain a greater appreciation of each colleagues’ skill sets.
You should certainly make time during work hours to engage in remote team-building activities. This doesn’t always have to be work-related. Make time for something fun and creative like an online roleplaying game or a quiz. You should also encourage workers to celebrate each other’s birthdays and key life events.
In some ways, creating a strong company culture in remote settings is not as easy as it may be within an office environment. Nevertheless, it is vital to the success of your company. Make consistent efforts to recognize employee achievements, develop staff skills, and keep everyone communicating effectively. Importantly, facilitate your team in forging meaningful bonds with one another. Remote working can hold many benefits and you can make the most of these if you commit to building the best possible culture.