Written by: Beau Peters
Company culture has never been more important. In fact, nearly nine out of 10 employees and as much as 94% of executives consider a distinct workplace culture part and parcel to business success.
However, it can be difficult to cultivate a company culture from a distance. With things like your workplace environment, office space aesthetics, and face-to-face interactions stripped away, maintaining a positive, connected, and productive remote office can certainly be a challenge.
With COVID-19 rapidly ushering in the era of the true remote workspace, here are some suggestions for different ways that teams can maintain a great company culture — whether there’s a dozen or thousands of miles keeping you apart.
Establish Solid Communication
Incorporating communication strategies is a critical element for any remote team. It increases efficiency, boosts productivity, and improves quality. However, it is also a key ingredient in building and maintaining your company’s online culture. Having an intimately interconnected team with clear channels of communication allows everyone to stay on the same page, understand expectations, and reduce time spent communicating in circles or clarifying.
Any remote office space should have clearly identified channels that should be the primary form of communication for all staff members. This can include:
- Social media
- Phone calls
- Video chats
The important thing is that you choose options that reinforce your company culture. If you thrive on an open and transparent workspace, choose something like Slack where conversations can remain “in the open.” If productivity and efficiency are key, email might work better, as it allows for fewer distractions.
Emphasize Collaboration and Team Building
Remote teams classically struggle with accessing files, documents, and other critical items needed to perform their jobs. This doesn’t just hamstring operational efficiency, it can also undermine workplace culture in the process. Frustration and the inability to access what is needed can sour attitudes and lead to a proliferation of negative vibes.
Instead, strive to cultivate a strong sense of collaboration and team-building by utilizing online workflow applications like Trello and Asana and file-sharing systems like Google Drive and Dropbox. These can make it easy for a remote team to work together in real-time and provide a central location for all important files to remain easily accessible.
Employ Online Resources
Setting the tone and clarifying remote-workspace expectations are essential to providing your staff with a distinctly recognizable company culture. While you may not be able to go over these things with your employees in person, you can still provide structure by creating online guidelines and codes of conduct.
These can address everything from behavior to verbiage, branded beliefs, company ethics, and proper modes of communication. When these are set in stone in an easily accessible online location it can help to provide a sense of consistency — and, by extension, positivity — for your remote team as they work together towards a common goal.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
If you want to cultivate a positive work environment, make a concerted effort to encourage work-life balance for your employees.
For years executives have believed that things like poor management, overtime, and unreasonable workloads have contributed to employee burnout — with 95% of leaders claiming that said burnout was negatively impacting their workforce retention.
All of these elements can be problematic for remote workers, who may struggle with properly separating work from personal life when both take place in the same location. When management acknowledges this struggle, it can help workers truly disengage when not working and, by extension, provide more thorough attention and effort when they are.
Empower Your Employees
One of the primary benefits of allowing a workforce to work remotely is the fact that it can boost productivity. In fact, 91% of employees report getting more done when working from a remote workspace.
However, it’s easy to counteract this benefit if management falls prey to micromanaging things from a distance. When working remotely, it’s absolutely essential that managers adopt a hands-mostly-off approach whenever possible. Instead, look for ways to empower your employees by giving them responsibilities and trusting them to accomplish work on their own.
This will both counteract the negative aspects of having a boss constantly “over your virtual shoulder” while simultaneously encouraging employees to take ownership of their work, all of which goes a long way towards creating a more positive work environment.
Building a Positive and Connected Remote Company Culture
The challenges created by the coronavirus pandemic have opened up multiple opportunities for those willing to look at things with a cup-half-full mentality. Most of these perceived advantages tend to focus on things like websites, digital marketing, finding online customers, and e-commerce in general. Nevertheless, the new remote-work paradigm also offers a unique chance for companies to shift to a truly sustainable remote work model.
There are always growing pains associated with a pivot of this nature, but if you can strive to establish a truly uplifting and positive company culture even when your team is working remotely, you can not only survive but thrive during these turbulent times and on into the future.