It is becoming exceedingly clear that remote work is here to stay. According to the 2020 State of Remote Work report, over 98% of respondents stated that they want to continue working remotely for the remainder of their careers (at least some of the time).
But, transitioning to a remote workforce, whether partially or fully, presents companies with some major challenges with regard to keeping a healthy and consistent company culture across teams in different time zones.
Below are 5 ideas that will help you in maintaining your company culture with a remote workforce. But first, let’s take a look at what company culture is, and why it matters.
What Is Company Culture and Why Does It Matter?
Company culture encompasses a wide range of behaviors, values, and shared attitudes that characterize your institution or organization. This includes the conventions and social practices that contribute to your business's unique psychological and social environment.
Remote work culture refers to the unconditional feeling of connection experienced by coworkers who are bonded by similar interests, attitudes, and priorities.
According to a survey conducted by Glassdoor, over 56% of employees stated that good workplace culture is more important to them than salary.
Organizational culture is so important for a business and its employees because it will allow you to:
Define Your Business’s Internal and External Identity
Foster Social Connections
Live Your Company’s Core Values
Transform Employees into Advocates
Keep Your Best People
Transform Your Company into a Team
Enhance Employee Wellbeing and Performance
Why Is Remote Work Culture Important?
It's clear to see just how important company culture is. But, it's even more crucial to implement your work culture into a remote work situation like the one many businesses are currently experiencing due to COVID-19.
This is extremely beneficial for employees and productivity, and if it's not done, it can have an adverse effect on your business operations and your bottom line.
Here are some of the reasons why remote work culture is so important for your business:
Build a Sense of Connection: When people don't see one another regularly, they can lose the feeling of connection. Strong work culture can help to give workers a firm sense of belonging.
Counteract Remote Isolation: A lot of remote workers struggle with loneliness. Strong work culture will help bring workers together around a shared goal and promote feelings of camaraderie.
Build Long-Term Relationships: Another reason why company culture is important for your business is that it strengthens team bonds and benefits on-site work by enhancing communication, building trust, and deepening relationships.
Prepare for Future Success: Many employees will continue to work remotely post-COVID, and remote work culture will help you prime your business for success in the future.
Continue to Produce Quality Results: Making sure that your employees remember they are part of a team is very important to achieve quality results. When people work remotely, it’s not uncommon to let the quality of work slide. This is especially true if your brand has a difficult task to manage regularly, like creating and managing a YouTube channel to make extra money for the company.
By building a strong culture, you make it more likely that your business will be able to withstand the problems that are associated with remote work (such as the inherent challenges of changing work models) so you can maintain productivity as trends shift.
5 Tips To Maintain Company Culture While Working Remotely
Building an organizational culture that reaches all employees across various locations can be a challenging task. But, there are certain things that you can do to cultivate conditions in your business to enhance productivity, boost your workers' sense of belonging, and bring your entire team together in a powerful way.
The tips here are great for internal communications, but keep in mind that they are also valuable when your company is outsourcing work as well. For example, if you’ve found a digital marketing agency to work with your organization, these tips can also be applied while working remotely with them as well as any other company you’re working with.
Below are 5 best practices to help you maintain company culture with a remote workforce.
1. Communicate Your Company Values
Company values are all forms of value that help to determine the health, success, and well-being of a business in the long run. Values are a big part of an organization's culture because they act as the core guiding pillars at the forefront of every employee's mind.
Company values are particularly important for remote workers and serve as a concrete understanding of how your business operates, as well as how you build a positive environment at work.
Having a strong set of values will help you harness the direction your company culture takes, and if you haven't already created company values, now is the time to do it so that you can incorporate them into your remote work situation.
Here are some creative ways to share your company values with remote employees:
Incorporate company values from the start: You can add your values to your website, and, during the hiring process, ask value-centric questions.
Create a weekly roundup email: Send a weekly roundup to your employees, sharing how the company values were integrated into their workflow.
Peer-to-Peer Recognition: Employees can nominate co-workers who live your company values and you can award those individuals with weekly kudos.
Follow Standard Education Practices: It’s very common for companies to build an online course on a platform to encourage their employees to understand company values. This is a tried and true method that may not be “sexy”, but it simply works.
2. Have Clear Remote Work Policies and Guidelines
Your ability to communicate effectively will determine whether or not your remote team culture thrives or perishes. If you get communication wrong, your culture simply won't stick. That's why it is important to set expectations regarding remote work by having clear remote work policies and guidelines.
Doing this will benefit you in a variety of ways, including enhancing communication, encouraging open feedback, and ensuring a productive environment for all your employees.
There are many issues that your company may need to make policies around. For instance, you might create a set of guidelines that includes a few sensible ground rules as to your company's thoughts on the type of content, language, humor, etc. that is acceptable when communicating with one another.
3. Choose Your Communication Channels
A great way to maintain company culture with a remote workforce is to have an environment where open communication and feedback are encouraged.
And one of the best ways to do that is by setting clear expectations on which communication methods are to be used for specific topics. This can help to set the tone and encourage communication among your team.
For instance, you might determine that legal or serious documentation should always be sent through your cloud file server or via email, whereas team huddle or casual discussion should be done via Skype or Slack.
You can greatly reduce employee confusion as to what to post where by including a simple guide that everyone has easy access to.
This is a great tactic that allows for better communication and creates a more collaborative and cohesive workplace.
20% of remote workers state that communication is among the biggest struggles they face.
Basically, anything you can do to improve communication will help you in creating a stronger remote culture because communication is one of the biggest obstacles most companies face when it comes to company culture.
4. Create Space for and Encourage Casual Conversation
Isolation and loneliness are among the biggest drawbacks of remote work. At the office, most people gather around the office water cooler to chat and catch up on whatever is happening in each other's lives.
Creating a similar "watercolor effect" in a virtual environment is an effective way to combat isolation and loneliness among employees.
You can facilitate this by creating a dedicated channel on Slack or any other company-wide chat tool and then encouraging chatter about anything from the latest Netflix shows to sports, and everything in between.
This is just one of the many ways you can encourage your remote workforce to continue casual conversations from the physical workplace.
Just be sure to create some sensible ground rules regarding the content posted on these channels. This includes the kind of language, humor, etc. that is acceptable to avoid offending anyone.
5. Host Virtual Events
Hosting virtual events is yet another effective method to maintain company culture with a remote workforce. You can host events that you would've done for your employees in the office using virtual methods. This is important for building camaraderie.
Some of the ways you can host virtual events include:
Happy Hours: You can host video chat happy hours or other after-hour virtual socials, such as game night, virtual cooking classes, and so on.
Wellness Activities: You can take time at breakfast or lunch (depending on time zones) to try various wellness activities, like yoga, Pilates, meditation, etc. as a team in order to encourage healthy habits
Quizzes and Games: Give your employees somewhere fun to go when they need a boost in morale or are looking for ways to feel more connected to the rest of the team by providing games, quizzes, or a fun activity like retail arbitrage, that encourages virtual team building, bonding, and can even make them a few extra bucks.
Your organizational culture is the heart of your business. It's a combination of your mission, values, and goals. It's not something that you can build overnight, but you can implement the tips outlined in this article to help you create and maintain a strong culture for your business.