The world is in the midst of a global cultural evolution, thanks to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic.
One of the most affected areas of life has been the way we do work. Some major brands and organizations have already declared that they are no longer going back to the office. According to a report by Gartner, 74% of companies plan to permanently adopt remote work post-Covid.
And that’s why you must know how to develop a strong remote work culture for your team.
What is a Remote Work Culture (And Why is it Important?)
Developing a strong remote work culture is crucial to the success of your business as you transition to remote work – whether part-time or full-time.
But before we go any further, let’s define what remote work culture is.
What is Remote Work Culture?
By definition, workplace culture is the environment you create for your employees to foster employee camaraderie, satisfaction, and productivity. In essence, it’s the unseen bond that binds your employees around a common goal and is seen by the attitude your employees have toward each other and the tasks assigned to them.
Remote work culture, then, is the collection of attitudes and emotions you foster in your team to encourage increased productivity while maintaining good mental health.
3 Great Reasons a Strong Remote Work Culture is Important
So why is it important to develop a strong remote work culture?
Here are three good reasons:
One of the most important reasons to develop a good remote work culture is that it counteracts loneliness. If there’s one thing humans need, it’s to feel connected. And in the workplace, they need to feel connected to other employees. While this is easy in the office, it’s difficult when working remotely. A strong remote culture helps your staff feel connected despite being away from each other.
Strengthens the Bond Between Your Employees
If there’s one element that helps teams work together efficiently, it’s unity. And a great remote work culture helps strengthen the bond between your employees. This sense of camaraderie is essential in creating a remote team that is driven to produce results.
Sets Your Brand Up for Success
The most important reason to develop a strong remote work culture is that it sets your brand up for success. With a common goal to drive your team and the same attitude toward achieving that goal, your employees will enthusiastically help drive your organization to success.
10 Best Practices to Help You Develop a Strong Remote Work Culture
Building a workplace culture is tough when done in-person. Developing a remote work culture then is a herculean task that requires a strategic approach. Here are the top 10 best practices that will help you do just that:
Start from the Hiring Process
Developing a strong remote work culture starts right from the hiring process. Granted, you’ve probably employed most of the staff members you need. But if you’re to hire more employees, make sure they fit into the framework of your company’s remote work culture. Make sure to emphasize your remote working culture in the onboarding process.
So what kind of candidates should you look for?
- Problem solvers
- Ability to quickly adapt to situations
- Skilled communicators
- Organizational skills
- Reliable and dependable
These are just some of the many skills you must look for when recruiting new staff members.
Be Clear About Your Remote Work Policy
Remote work means different things to different people. For some, it means they “clock in” using your preferred time-tracking tool. For others, it means working at their own pace as long as targets are met.
To develop a strong remote work culture, you must clearly spell out your remote work policy to your employees. This ensures that everyone on your team knows exactly what is expected of them as they work from home.
Rally Your Team Around a Common Cause
Whether in a corporate or social setting, strong cultures are developed from people rallying around a common cause. That’s why, to build a strong remote culture, you must give your employees a cause to rally behind. And what better cause than your organization’s vision, mission, and values?
Not only must you cast a clear vision, but you must show your employees their importance in helping the organization succeed at accomplishing it.
Transparency is a crucial ingredient in developing a strong remote work culture. This means you must be transparent in every aspect of the organization’s operations. From performance to leadership decisions, team members must be made aware of what’s happening in the organization.
You must also take it to a more granular level and encourage your employees to freely share their ideas as well as their feelings about life in the organization. Transparency fosters strong bonds between employees and encourages loyalty to the organization. It also allows employees to be vulnerable enough to share their “crazy” ideas – ideas that could revolutionize your business.
Encourage Regular Communication
One of the biggest challenges with remote work is communication. That’s why your remote work culture must encourage regular and open internal communication. From deadlines to office banter, communication should be prioritized if your team is to be effective. However, you must also set policies on how communication should be carried out. For example:
- When should communication be synchronous vs. asynchronous?
- Which channels should be used for priority communique?
- What protocols can you employ to reduce disruptions while keeping communication channels open?
Encouraging open communication leads to your team being more connected. And a connected team is a more productive team.
Host Virtual Social Meetups
Ask any employee, and they’ll tell you – one of the best parts of office work is the conversations that take place at the water cooler. Why?
Because people are social animals. And the water cooler provides some great opportunities for some light-hearted conversations.
That’s why, as part of your remote work culture strategy, you must encourage your employees to have some social time “outside of work” – together. You can do this by having a happy hour on Zoom (or your video conferencing software of choice).
Alternatively, you can also open a Slack channel solely dedicated to your remote workers sharing pictures of their weekend, pets, or anything that’s not work-related. However, you do it, encouraging your employees to have fun together should be part of your remote work culture.
Meet One-on-One with Employees
Most organizations have an “open door” policy where employees can freely approach a supervisor and talk to them about anything. With remote work, employees may not feel as free to reach out to a supervisor.
This is why, when developing a strong remote work culture, you must encourage your management to reach out to frontline workers and have one-on-one conversations with them. This can be as simple as a phone call or chatting over one of your preferred communications channels. Doing so will help your remote workers feel appreciated and part of a bigger team.
And in a season where everything seems to be going wrong, the best thing you can do for your employees is to let them know that you’ve got their backs.
Recognize Exceptional Work “Publicly”
Just as in traditional work settings, recognizing and rewarding employees who produce exceptional work is important to your remote work culture. Sure, you may not be able to reward them with a special parking lot, but you can recognize them “publicly.”
You can do this by giving them a shout out or by simply having a virtual notice board where you celebrate your employees’ achievements. And if you can top it up with a reward (say an Amazon gift card or workspace upgrade), all the better.
Establish Regular Rituals
Rituals make up a great part of culture. And when you’re developing a remote work culture, you must make sure to develop rituals geared toward unifying your team and increasing productivity.
Examples of such rituals could include (among others):
- Virtual handshakes to sync teammates
- Weekly team meetings
- Swag day where everyone wears branded T-shirts or caps
- Bring your pet to work day
Rituals ensure that your employees have a shared identity that connects them. They also help turn something ordinary into a meaningful experience, therefore making work fun and engaging.
Provide the Right Communication Tools
As said, communication plays a vital role in ensuring that you have a solid remote work culture. But for that communication to be effective, you must equip your employees with the best communication and collaboration tools. Of course, what may be the best tools for one organization may be the worst for another.
So how do you ensure you choose the right communication and collaboration tools for your organization? Simple. Determine your business priorities and focus on communication and collaboration tools that make it easier for your employees to work on them efficiently.
Developing a Strong Remote Work Culture: The Key to Success
Remote work has been proven to increase employee productivity – if done right. And the only way to make sure you do it right is by having a strong remote work culture. By following these best practices, you’ll ensure that your team transitions well into the new norm of remote work.