Is your business growing, but you can’t seem to find the right people to fill all the open positions? Or perhaps, you’re thinking of expanding or moving your operations to remote working. After all, with the right tools in place, it can be a great way to cut costs while still expanding your reach. But before you take the plunge, there are a few things to keep in mind.
How to Build and Maintain Company Culture Remotely
Over the past few years, many organisations have had to rapidly adapt to a remote work environment. And while remote work has its own challenges, one silver lining is that it opens up opportunities to expand your business in many new and innovative ways.
Essential to any business, remote or operating in person, the “secret sauce” or the competitive advantage is the culture.
It underpins and drives everything.
So how can you build a great company culture remotely?
Here are some useful remote company culture ideas:
1. Communication is the Key
The single most important form of communication for remote (or any team) is weekly one on one communication.
This is essential to grow accountability and respect, alignment to key objectives and the vision, and to answer any questions your people have or help solve any issues they’re facing for example.
The regular “face to face” Zoom contact ensures your people working remotely stay focussed on the right priorities. It also shows that you care about them and value their contribution to the business “from afar”, which is vital for driving their engagement in the business and thus their performance for you, day in, day out.
When was the last time you spent time one-on-one with your team members?
If you’d like to read more about the types of communication essential for remote teams, check out this blog.
There are also many different tools and applications out there that can help with team communication and collaboration, so it’s definitely worth doing your research to see what works best for your business.
2. Create a Sense of Community
Just because your team is remote doesn’t mean they can’t feel like or part of a workplace community. So, in order to create a sense of community in your people at work, you should encourage them to engage and bond with each other on a personal level. This can be done by setting up virtual happy hours, coffee chats, or other team-building activities you and your team come up with together. You need to find a way to replace the “incidental” catch ups you have in the office kitchen, or walking to get a coffee for example, which all play a part in growing a collaborative, high performance culture.
3. Set Clear Expectations & Ensure Accountability to Those Expectations
It’s important to set clear expectations right from the beginning, so everyone clearly knows what’s expected of them.
Knowing what’s expected of them is a major driver of employee engagement – however a recent Gallup poll found that 50% of employees actually don’t know what’s expected of them!
When it comes to setting expectations, it is not just the expected performance outcomes of each member that needs to be set, but also the expected behaviour and thinking required from all team members, for example communication, working hours, attitude and collaboration expectations.
Additionally, by communicating your company’s values and what you expect from your team members in terms of professional behaviour, you create a positive and productive remote environment where all of your people get maximum chances to thrive.
We suggest setting clear expectations via a written document and then formally going through the document with each team member one one one, via video chat. By doing this, you ensure everyone is on the same page, and avoid any potential misunderstandings and conflicts down the line.
It’s also important you set team expecations in a team meeting, transferring your trust and belief in your team to meet them.
In a previous blog, we gave a series of questions for business owners to reflect on regarding their communication, followed by 4 key steps they can take to ensure effective communication in setting clear expectations. You can read it here.
4. Foster Trust
It’s hard to build trust and transparency when you can’t see your coworkers face-to-face. You know that building trust and transparency are important for a productive remote work environment, but it’s hard to do so when your team is not present in person. With remote work tools like video conferencing, chat, and screen sharing, you can create a transparent remote work environment that builds trust and encourages collaboration.
Additionally, using tools for remote work chat software and video conferencing, you’ll be able to see and talk to your coworkers as if they were in the same room. And since everything is logged and tracked, you’ll always know what everyone is working on.
By focussing on behaviours and solidifying trust and relationships with key members in your organisation, you can create a strong foundation within your company culture remotely.
Lastly, you need to be a little flexible when it comes to remote working. Not everyone is going to adjust to the remote working lifestyle immediately, and some may find it more challenging than others. So, by being understanding and accommodating with your people, you can create an inclusive environment for all.
How often do you show flexibility with employees? With their working hours or maybe their deliverables?
Impact of Remote Working on Company Culture
While remote working has become increasingly popular, it can have a significant impact on company culture. When you have team members from across the globe, it can be difficult to create a sense of community and maintain the same level of communication. There can be times when certain members might feel exploited or left out of the loop.
Therefore, encouraging social interaction, ensuring accountability, showing flexibility, and fostering a sense of connection can not only help you maintain a thriving company culture remotely but will also ensure that your business is set up for success in the upcoming days.
How would you define your remote work culture? Is there enough trust and accountability that creates a high performing team?
Do you need more help with setting up a remote company culture that works best for your team?
Leadership Dynamics has got you covered. Peter Cox has been leading remote teams around the world for 30 years and personally has remote teams in 29 countries, with a sales force of 15,000, in 12 languages.
We have helped countless organisations increase their productivity and profitability, with our exclusive leadership coaching and training programs.