By Raymond Chiu
Due to technological advancements, businesses can adopt a remote work setup. Meanwhile, it has enabled people to have employment within the comforts of their homes.
Gone are the days where employees work in a cubicle and companies run a centralized organization. Now, it’s becoming pretty commonplace for employees working in co-working spaces, the comforts of their own homes, or any part of the world.
In fact, it is expected that 70% of the workforce will work remotely by 2025. You will likely see a growing trend among digital nomads in the coming years, as working 40 hours per week in one place will be obsolete.
That said, you should start developing a robust remote work culture now.
Defining Remote Company Culture
In a nutshell, remote work culture is defined as a digital organizational culture. It allows employees to connect via shared experiences, interests, or priorities.
Creating a solid remote work culture builds a sense of belongingness among employees. This is something that goes beyond physical boundaries.
Moreover, even companies that don’t have set or defined cultures have a culture. That’s because almost every employee knows what’s expected of them. Meaning, they know what actions will be rewarded as long as they are given enough space for autonomy.
No wonder it has become crucial for businesses to build and streamline their processes. Because without it, adopting a remote work setup can be tricky.
Why is Strong Remote Work Culture Important?
Creating a solid remote work culture is essential because it plays a role in how customers and employees perceive you. It will also determine how successful your company will be.
Since remote teams are distanced physically, creating a solid work culture becomes a more significant challenge.
The key here, though, is to anchor your actions with your core values. That’s because your values are less likely to change, whether you have a physical office or a remote company.
Just because you only do meetings via Zoom does not mean you do not expect excellence and accountability from your employees. On the other hand, being a remote company does not give you an excuse not to pay your employees well.
Building a Strong Remote Company Culture
Ideally, you should prioritize establishing a company culture. And now that we’ve talked about why company culture is crucial, here’s how you can build a solid remote company culture for your business.
Define your company values
Now more than ever, it’s vital that you redefine your company values. See to it that you instill these values to employees when they’re working remotely and for the future hires of your company.
One great exercise that you can do is to come up with a two-column chart. On the left column, place your current company values (both the good and bad).
Meanwhile, on the right side of the chart, list down all the values you wanted to instill in your company. Then, decide which values you’d like to foster in your organization.
For instance, you want to instill a work-life balance in your organization. This means you should create company values and events that promote work-life balance in the workplace.
Revamp your onboarding process
According to research, a substantial onboarding process helps improve employee retention. It can also boost productivity.
As working from home becomes more and more the norm, you and your team shouldn’t settle with just a mediocre onboarding process.
Keep in mind that remote onboarding is a little bit different from the traditional onboarding process. As you bring in new remote employees, you should give them ample time to be familiar with how you run your business.
This includes the tools you use, how you time in and time out, and how you log your work.
Establish a clear remote work policy
In the same way, you need to define some work from home procedures and policies clearly. Ideally, it would be best to document all processes and procedures, as this becomes your source of truth later on.
Also, make sure that everyone in your company has access to the same information. That way, you’re less likely to face conflicts later on with how things are handled.
Furthermore, having a remote work policy keeps things fair for your employees. There is no need for you to think about who deserves to work from home. Instead, you can set guidelines on who is eligible to work remotely, when, and how.
How people view work is rapidly changing. Many employees now expect companies to embrace remote work. Therefore, if you keep figuring things out as you go, you might be taking unnecessary risks.
Promote psychological safety
Have you thought of when something unfair happened at work and found it challenging to open up about it? This happens to many of us, especially when working remotely, and most interactions with your team happen online.
That’s why you must let employees speak up on specific issues. As long as the comments are polite and respectful- then it’s accountable.
Having more authentic and honest communication with your team allows their voice to be heard. Nonetheless, you should keep an open mind because you are likely to receive complaints. What you can do is filter what you should prioritize and whether a complaint is valid or ridiculous.
Also, see to it that managers listen equally to all these voices, even if direct reports only have negative things to say.
Embrace asynchronous communication
Embracing asynchronous communication will allow everyone to work whenever and wherever. What’s important is that you establish a standard hour when everyone should be online.
When employees get a request from a colleague, they can process it based on their bandwidth. However, for more urgent matters, different rules may apply.
Also, since in a remote environment, employees communicate a lot in writing. Therefore, if you need feedback on a project, you need to give your teammates full notes and let them know all the steps you’ve been through.
Research has also shown that asynchronous communication impacts productivity and performance. By designing your remote work culture in this direction, both your business and employees can benefit from this in the long run.
Develop work-from-home rituals
At the start of your in-person meetings, one can easily read other people’s emotional states. Therefore, having a quick chat about family or home life sets a positive tone for your meeting.
However, it’s pretty easy to forget about this during online meetings, leaving plenty of awkward silences. To help fill this gap, do a routine check-in ritual at the start of your virtual meetings. You can also weave in work updates with this check-in ritual.
For example, during an update, one team member provides two work updates and one personal update.
Strive for a healthy work-life balance
Work-life balance is one of the critical aspects of remote working.
When working remotely, sometimes it isn’t easy to achieve that healthy work-life balance. Being readily available doesn’t help either.
That’s why healthy boundaries should be placed between you, your employees, and your clients or customers. Trying to be everything simultaneously can eventually backfire.
Moreover, if these expectations aren’t met, friction can eventually arise, causing negative consequences.
Working in a remote environment is already challenging, even more so if you need to stay connected all the time.
Recognize and appreciate exceptional work
A lot of companies don’t reward employees with “Employee of the Month.” But there should be frequent use of shoutouts as well. If an employee did something exceptionally well, commend them publicly.
Usually, public recognition is one of the best ways to manage and keep your remote team motivated. This also sets a great example that other team members will constantly strive for.
When mentioned in your team chat, a simple shoutout also gives other team members a chance to send their congratulations.
If a company executive is also in that chat, this can also serve as a powerful motivator, making sure that credit is given when it’s due.
Provide skills training and workshop
Frequent training also plays a huge role in unifying employees despite the distance. Therefore, you shouldn’t overlook the importance of online training and team building in remote teams.
Ensure that the training is well-organized, highly engaging, and interactive. This is regardless of whether you are organizing an online workshop, training, or lecture. Moreover, this training should provide opportunities for all team members to work together.
Usually, situations that require problem-solving are an excellent way to practice teamwork. Doing so can help you come up with a solution much faster.
You can also use a learning management system that comes with collaborative tools. This includes discussion forums and webinars that help foster two-way communication.
Knowing when to pivot and being open to change can make your business thrive. Nonetheless, you should anchor your operations on your values.
Because whether you choose to have a four-day workweek or work remotely, your company will not thrive without it. And this is something you should include in your company culture.
That’s because your company culture can help keep your employees tight despite the physical distance.