How To Establish and Improve Remote Work Culture
Thanks to modern technology, remote working is becoming increasingly popular since there are many benefits for both the employee and the employer. One of the challenges leaders are faced with is how they could build a positive culture with their entire team working remotely. Remote work culture is the feeling of being connected with your co-workers with similar priorities, interests, and attitudes.
A great corporate culture has been proven to increase employee engagement, productivity, and performance. Happy employees who love the people they work with are committed to their organization’s goals, values, and mission.
How to Foster a Positive Remote Work Culture
So what can you do as a leader to foster a positive remote work culture that inspires and encourages your team? Here are excellent ways that you should consider.
Communicate (and Model) Your Company’s Mission and Values
Your company culture should be built around a strong mission and values that bring the team together. By sharing the company's mission statement often it will be embedded in the minds of your team and they will carry it with them in all they do for the company. It should also be clearly articulated to new hires right from day one. If you have weekly virtual meetings, you could have everyone cite the mission statement at the end of the meeting or have it posted wherever you know your employees will see it often, like your CRM or website.
Encourage Open Communication
People, in general, want to be heard, this also stands for employees in the office and working remotely. Encouraging your employees to openly communicate about whatever they want or need to will make them feel heard and that their thoughts and feelings are important to you. Having a more laid-back and casual conversation with your team will encourage them to be their authentic self and build a closer relationship.
It’s important to communicate higher-level decisions with your team to build good relationships with them as it will help them feel like they are in fact, part of the team. It’s also important to let your employees know that you trust them and the work they do even though they are working remotely. When managing your remote workers, you will want to focus more on output rather than what they are doing hour by hour. Empower your employees to do their best work and trust that they will. Use work output to determine their success and give them deadlines, so they know what is expected.
Schedule Virtual Meetings Regularly
It’s difficult to build relationships with your co-workers when you are not in the office talking with them daily. By scheduling weekly virtual meetings it will give a chance for your team to bond and give everyone a chance to talk, even the quiet ones that normally don't speak up. Ask questions to get everyone involved, but when you can make it more light and fun rather than a stale serious meeting. This will make others feel more comfortable to be themselves and help your team build a closer relationship.
When you don’t see your employees every day, and you mostly communicate via messaging or email,it could be easy to forget to really tell them that they are appreciated. Giving acknowledgment for their hard work and achievements during your virtual meetings is a good way to boost morale and encourage them to continue to do great work. You could also create a dedicated email where employees could give acknowledgments to co-workers that are then read out loud during meetings. Sending cards or gift cards to your team for accomplishments, birthdays, or anniversaries will make them feel special and part of the team.
When an employee is working remotely, they, in essence, always have their work with them. It’s easy for one not to have clear boundaries with work and home life. They may get emails in the evening and feel the need to respond or handle tasks that could wait till the next day. Eventually, they will get burned out, and they will feel less excited about work. Encouraging a healthy work-life balance will help them learn to turn the computer off and enjoy their life to regenerate for a clear mind the next workday. Let them know you don’t want them to always be on and that you want them to use their off time away from work. If you email them after hours make a note they can reply the following workday so they don’t feel obligated to reply right away.
Schedule Non-Work-Related Meetups
If your team is all local, you could schedule fun team-building events for everyone to get together and let loose a little and build bonds. If your team is all over the globe then you could schedule virtual meetups like happy hours. You could get creative and play fun virtual games or just chat and get to know each other. These causal meetups encourage teamwork and form relationships that otherwise would have never formed.
Create a Safe Place
Many times employees hold back their thoughts and ideas because they feel it’s safer to be quiet than to have their ideas rejected or even laughed at. As a leader, you will need to build a safe place to express yourself to build a positive remote culture. This will enable your team to be engaged and take risks. They could have an amazing idea but be intimidated to share. You could help create a safe place by acknowledging your own mistakes and weaknesses. You could also ask for feedback and suggestions for projects or ideas.
Spend Time Learning About Each Team Member
When you are in the office with your team members, it’s easy to have small talk that helps get to know each other. Being remote makes it pretty challenging to have small talk unless you go out of your way to do it. Setting one on one time aside to get to know each employee will help foster closer relationships which helps build a more positive work culture. It will show them that you really care about them as a person by getting to know who they are and the things they like to do when they are not working.
Create Fun Virtual Contests
You could create fun contests for different holidays or calendar events. These could be custom contests where everyone submits a photo of them in costume, then they vote who’s the winner. You could also do weight loss challenges, bakeoffs or cookoffs, Christmas tree decoration contents. Get creative, ask for fun ideas from your team. These are fun ways to get your team involved and have fun while working.
Hire Great People from the Start
Establishing a winning company culture begins with the employees you hire. If you create a light and fun atmosphere, remember each new hire can contribute to support or destroy that culture, so it’s important to hire people with the same attitude, values, and goals as the company's culture. Hiring team members who contribute positively to the company's culture is vital for a great culture. Just one negative employee can taint your company’s culture and bring others down. Being picky with your hires is a good way to ensure your company culture stays amazing.
Your hiring managers should be aware of what type of culture and people you want to work for the company. By spending time training them, they will understand the behaviors and actions that show if someone is a good fit. Rather than asking applicants about their values, using behavior-focused questions will get them talking about how they’ve previously handled situations and what kind of person they really are.
An awesome company culture will help you keep your top employees long-term as well as attract new awesome talent. Remote workers will still feel your company’s great culture and values with a little bit of effort on your part. Ensure your entire team knows your company's mission statement; in time, they should know it by heart, as well as your company's values and goals. When you have the right employees that will adopt these company values and goals and carry them into the work they do.
Schedule virtual meetings at least weekly to stay connected and offer open lines of communications to encourage feedback from your team. Having trust in your employees starts a great foundation for remote working. Keep your remote workers informed of important decisions and any changes within the organization. Even though your employees are working remotely, it’s still important to show appreciation and acknowledge their achievements and hard work.
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