Maintaining Business Culture with Remote Workers
Drive into The Great Remote Work Experiment 2020 without much warning or preparation1, individuals and businesses around the world were in a survival mode, undergoing various amounts of frustration and success in adopting legally enforced virtual work as they tried to maintain business continuity in time of professional and personal uncertainty2. It was critical for each individual and organization to adapt remote working for success and gradually we all learned that work is not somewhere we go, it is rather something we do.
After such a massive change, it is impossible to go back to the normal. The dynamics of any workforce collaboration will forever be impacted even if the danger has passed. Components of remote working such as video conferencing and worker autonomy, regardless of the location, will permanently be integrated into business operations3.
Businesses now need to understand that location irrelevancy is the future of work and to adapt this idea, we should remember that employee connection is not ensured by same building. There is a possibility that one can feel disconnected and lonely in a sea of co-workers, but alternatively it is possible to feel engaged and loyal without ever having met in person.
The key to preventing isolation is to have a thriving business culture in which team members feel valued, recognized and committed. Moving forward post COVID-19, businesses are availing this prime opportunity to evaluate whether their culture is just a package of perks or is it about inclusivity.
According to a Glassdoor survey4, 56% of employees find a good workplace culture to be more important than salary. A company’s culture is the heart of an organization- an integrated combination of values, mission and goals of a business. This cannot be built overnight but requires participatory effort from leadership, employees and HR.
In the COVID-19 situation when employees are working remotely, it is a challenge to build a company culture that reaches everyone across various locations. Businesses are focusing on cultivating an environment of belonging and productivity that brings the entire team together. Here are some of the best practices to maintain a business culture remotely.
Circulate your company values
Values are a substantial part of a business culture. They are the fundamental core pillars leading your organization and require to be the vanguard of your employees’ minds. For remote employees, company values are a concrete understanding of how the company operates.
Incorporate values from day one; create a weekly email for remote employees to disperse how they assimilate the company values in their workflow. Award weekly distinction to those individuals nominated by co-workers for exuding company values5.
Communication is one of the biggest barriers to remote culture. Since everyone is operating from different locations, simple fixes require more follow-up and time. Ensure clarity by establishing communication norms. This should include response time frames, chat best practices and email etiquette. Setting standards for communication will reduce interruptions, prevent people from getting barraged with messages, and make communication easier. Other helpful strategies shall include equipping employees with the right technology such as real-time chat applications, project management software and appropriate hardware. Developing a company-wide newsletter; share goals, achievements and happenings of various departments brings the entire workforce together.
Make face-to-face meetings a priority
Seeing and hearing others allow remote employees to absorb subtle cues like body language and voice inflection, helps them to connect with others and identify issues. It supports in establishing trust and make people feel like a part of team. To implement this practice effectively, managers should designate some time to meet individually with employees via video chat, celebrate individual accomplishments and build connections. Reinforce values and promote team work when you see your colleagues face-to-face. Decide a theme for each meeting such as negotiation, presentation skills and grammar 101 to learn from fellow employees.
Building a strong remote culture is a continuous process that requires hard work and time. Businesses should focus on fostering transparency by creating an environment of trust to keep moving the business forward.