Remote work is on the rise, therefore it’s critical for companies to figure out how to maintain a positive company culture across the organization, regardless of the physical distance between team members.
The Rise of Remote
Every business owner (and HR professional) knows that positive company culture is vital to maintaining a loyal, happy staff. But when all or some of your staff work remotely, how can you build a welcoming, upbeat environment?
While it used to be commonplace to have your headquarters stateside and remote offices abroad, the reverse trend is now happening as shared working spaces across the country – and world – are filling up with more and more new businesses driven by international headquarters. In the rush to establish a global presence, the importance of developing a strong office culture is often overlooked. Ultimately, as more and more companies ditch physical offices in favor of a fully remote team, creating a community that your employees can invest in is a much bigger challenge than some may expect.
The Importance of Company Culture
Corporate culture has arguably always been important, but it’s only become a popular point of discussion in the past few decades. Company culture is important to employees because workers are more likely to enjoy their time in the workplace when they fit in with the company culture. On the other hand, if you work for a company where you don’t fit in with the company culture, you are likely to take far less pleasure out of your work.
Company culture is important to employers too because workers who fit in with the company culture are likely to not only be happier, but more productive. When an employee fits in with the culture, they are also likely to want to work for that company for longer. Win/Win.
Creating Culture Remotely
Studies have indicated measurable increases in turnover for companies with poor or nonexistent culture, and conversationally, culture is mentioned more frequently between entrepreneurs. If you don’t at least keep pace with a strong culture and find a way to differentiate yourself, you’re going to fall behind.
There are ways to get ahead of the game when your team are predominantly remote. Here are some practical tips to help you establish company culture in your remote team:
1. Eliminate “Us Vs. Them” Talk.
It’s essential for teams across all offices to see the bigger picture, and know they are all an integral part of a single team working to achieve the same company goals. We see all too often that distance can create a divide between teams, and often results in rivalry. Using inclusive pronouns such as ‘we’ and ‘our’ will help to foster cohesive thinking across offices and create a unified team.
2. Create an Online Community for Work and Play.
Inclusion and communication is essential. And no more so than when working with remote staff. When your team cannot communicate and socialize in person, there has to be a substitute for this physical interaction. One way to minimize the distance is with an enterprise collaboration platform. Try an ongoing Skype chat or other virtual chat rooms, which allows employees to instant message the entire group. A space that can be used socially as well as professionally will help build trust and friendships while serving as a key business function.
3. Video Conferences to Provide a Sense Of Unity.
When the team can’t be together physically, the next best thing is to connect through video. Start by trying to get a schedule that suits all remote workers (even if that means alternating Monday meeting times to cater for different time zones). Including a video conference will help employees feel part of a team and also serves as an informative way to align priorities and share news across all locations; creating a connection and a positive start to each week.
4. Team Retreats/Meetups.
While it’s entirely possible for a fully remote company to function with team members who never meet face-to-face, physically meeting your co-workers in person can be invaluable. If in close-ish proximity, discovering new and fun locations, going to meals together or drinking a beer after hours can help build trust and forge deeper bonds among those on your team.
For remote teams/freelancers around the world, organizing a global conference annually will create stronger relationships — and give everyone something to look forward to. Not only will employees enjoy an incredible company perk, but they’ll also have remarkable teamwork because they have met and learned from each other.
5. Communication, Communication, Communication.
COMMUNICATION IS KEY! As a business owner, being available is one of the most credible ways to run a smooth business with remote workers. This might seem obvious, but as the boss, when you don’t have a door to knock on, it is important that you’re available to communicate via the online channels. You also need everyone to know where they can report their off-days and vacation, how they document and communicate their work hours to the rest of the team and the like.
Different offices/employees have different roles and cultural differences too. Try setting guidelines in writing for each department, along with general rules and practices for the entire company — while keeping in mind that collaboration channels for different teams may not be the same. Recognize every team’s religious and cultural holidays and traditions, sharing well-wishes across the entire company; either socially and/or via a company newsletter.
Many companies have started to realize the efficiency gains delivered by remote teams. This trend, combined with the global rise of freelancers, means that working remotely will soon become a fixture of many organizations.
Armed with the above tips, we hope that you feel more confident in your task of creating an energetic, productive and profitable business with a remote team of employees.
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