Culture is the backbone of every organisation. It reflects in the way employees interact, behave and perform at work. As a result, it has a huge impact on the overall business performance because of which it is crucial to build a strong work culture. Moreover, we are shifting towards collaborating with teams remotely because we now have the technology to sustain remote collaboration. All we need are unique ways to build a world-class remote work culture and reap maximum benefits.
11 Tips to build a thriving remote work culture
Remote workers often feel isolated. Therefore, you must maintain proper communication with them so that they feel involved.
You can use channels to communicate about work. Check in and greet them, say hello, share emojis and gifs, or ask how their weekend was. Engage them better with birthday and anniversary announcements.
Make extensive use of VR in which you can give virtual tours of the workplace. This will encourage one-on-one interactions among teams and help strengthen work relations.
Always keep in close touch with new employees. Once they get comfortable working out at office you can switch to connecting with them through emails or calls. Until they let the work environment sync in, encourage video calls and meetings.
Ask everyone in the team to share feedback regarding work. Don’t just rely on annual reviews but focus on regular feedback cycles with continuous performance management software. Comply with an anonymous feedback form so that everyone gets a fair opportunity to share their views.
A company isn’t just about different teams and team members working together. It’s about a community that comes together to achieve a common business goal.
Therefore, companies conduct regular huddles over Skype or some other medium to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
The huddle is an opportunity to introduce new employees, recognise outperformers, conduct Rewards & Recognition, share company-wide updates and more.
The huddle doesn’t necessarily have to talk about work all the time. As a business leader you can discuss upcoming events, vacations, etc, to lighten the mood.
It is true that technology has encouraged us enough to be in our silos. However, technology has also helped bring together teams from remote locations.
Companies that make the most of it sooner or later find success. They also invest in formulating a successful remote work policy such that it is beneficial for all.
A company vision isn’t just words written on paper. It is a common goal that the entire company must collectively pursue.
The communication must be consistently regular to ensure that everybody is on the same page.
The vision defines where the company is heading. Values defines the ways that helps the company achieve this vision.
So, ensure that you communicate these values to your team members on a regular basis. This will help build stronger work relations in a remote work culture. Everyone will be on-board and working towards a common goal for enhanced output.
It will, as a result, show in your performance as well. Shout-out to team members who exemplify your core values. Congratulate them at company huddles and team events.
Make such engagements so reverberating such that your employees who work remotely feel a part of it.
Welcome new employees in front of the entire team
Introducing new employees with a warm welcome has been a part of company traditions and it still works the best.
Encourage the existing employees and team members to involve new employees, get in touch with them and get to know them better. On the other hand, you can ask the new employees to share a few words about themselves, their hobbies. You can even assign a buddy to a new employee for improved engagement.
New employees can attend one-on-one meetings with as many team members as they would like. These meetings will teach your new hire more about the company culture than any single document or manager speech will.
Moreover, these meetings will help all your employees become comfortable and open up to each other.
Encourage an environment of open communication and feedback
Keeping your team communication channels clear and open will promote transparency. This is actually what organisations desperately need to avoid confusion, clash and miscommunication.
You want to encourage an environment where everybody is contributing, not just the loud extroverts amongst your team. Reduce any red tape or formality associated with communication, to avoid employees just keeping quiet. Something which isn’t healthy for employees or for your team as a whole.
Set expectations on communication methods
Setting expectations on which employees can finalise communication channels. Team members can connect over these channels and discuss events, ideas, strategies and plans.
There are multiple collaboration and creative channels available today in the market. They let you share voice messages, documents, links, files, etc. They are super convenient and fast.
It is important to ask that team members stay logged in to these tools as well; any barrier to that communication, such as one of the team never logging into the company’s IM system, can be detrimental and kill productivity.
Most communication tools can be left open all day either as a desktop app or browser tab, with notifications keeping you updated. Something as simple as keeping that tab open will keep the door open for communication, creating a more cohesive and collaborative workplace.
Be aware of the ‘water cooler effect’
Wikipedia defines the ‘watercooler effect’ as “a phenomenon, occurring when employees at a workplace gather around the office water cooler and chat. It is a synonym for gathering and connecting people in a certain environment (e.g. the office). When a television program, like a soap-opera or series, is talked about among many people (mostly related to guessing what will happen in the next episode) it can be said that the program has a water cooler effect.”
Just like in a physical office, you should encourage a similar place virtually. For example, you can make active use of slack to see how employees connect with each other in a virtual space.
Create a few sensible ground rules about content, such as your organisation thoughts on language and humour, so that no one gets offended. At the same time you should encourage chatter about anything from your favourite eating joint to movies.
Such discussions keep your mind open, healthy and fulfilled.
Take time to learn about everyone
If you are sitting beside a colleague in the office every day, it won’t take long to start learning about them. Without even trying much you start getting a sense of who they are as a person. You get to know what personality traits they have.
This becomes more of a challenge with building a remote work culture. Make a point to learn about each of your employees or colleagues through informal discussions at the ‘water cooler’ as described above. Perhaps, you can arrange for them to connect frequently.
You could make this a game as well. Basically an online game where everyone can participate and ensure engagement.
Communicate, communicate, communicate!
Your company culture will flourish purely on communication. Get the communication right to involve remote work employees, keep them up-to-date and ensure that they know whom to contact whenever they are in need.
Set aside regular times every week for an all-hands chat if possible. If time zones prevent this, try to arrange two meetings, in differing time zones. Cover what the team is working on, give details on any decisions that may affect the team and reiterate that you want feedback and open communication. Having these regular meetings helps share news and encourages motivation amongst the entire team.
Have an always on policy with regards to chat software – even if you aren’t at your desk, someone should be able to message you, so you can see it next time you are in ‘work mode’. Be careful, however, not to ask people to work around the clock – this can breed contempt and your colleagues will suffer quickly from burnout and won’t be as effective.
Have an annual (or more regular) face to face meeting. For example, the team at Buffer have multiple international retreats each year, where the team gets together. This article by founder, Joel Gascoigne, really helps enlighten why.
Look at holding meetings using video conferencing to manage remote work. This allows people to recognize each other, and see reactions and facial expressions. Body language helps effective communication as people observe your body language almost as much as they listen to what you are saying.
Measure your remote team employee engagement
Setting time for a formal quarterly survey, a monthly email status update from every team member, or something such as employee pulse surveys really helps you in measuring the sentiment amongst your team at any time.
Focus on things other than just work-related topics. Ask about general happiness and mood encourages openness. This may help to alleviate any feelings of isolation and lack of communication as well.
A number of businesses make use of pulse survey. This is to check the emotional hygiene of employees. Follow these 11 steps to build a world-class, positive remote work culture!