Photo by Austin Distel
When thinking about your team of remote employees, you may be wondering just how you can create the same kind of work culture with them that one would with a non-remote team. It's natural to wonder this; working remotely is new, fresh, and we do not have many examples of fully-remote companies.
Because of this grey area, I want to talk about creating a remote work culture that helps your company and makes sure that your employees are there to stay. First, it's important to mention that your work culture is closely linked to your branding. For example, if your company is all about caring about creating a community, needless to say, your workplace culture should represent this as well!
What is 'workplace culture'?
Before we dive into the details, let's discuss what workplace culture is really all about. Newsflash: it's not about beer on tap and having a pool table at work, but it's more about real things, such as shared values between employees, mutual respect, and similar expectations for all employees.
Here, I want to put emphasis on all employees, both remote and on-site ones. Remote employees are sometimes disliked by on-site employees because of their right to work from home. It can be seen as a perk to some and as an unfair advantage to others. So, one of the first things to consider when establishing a remote work culture is that: make sure your playing field is the same for all employees! Make remote work a possibility for your on-site employees as well. If they work better from home on Wednesday afternoon, why not let them?
So, what is work culture after all? At Standups, it's about how we communicate respectfully. Also, how we work and how much, or how invested we all are, is a part of our work culture. What would you say is your work culture all about?
In any case, let's take a look at a few methods I've found work well when establishing a good workplace culture.
This is one that we have been talking about quite a lot in previous blog posts we have been sharing with you over the past few weeks. Communication is at the root of just about everything in a business. For example, I make sure to reach out to my employees regularly to make sure that they are on track with their tasks. This way, I can also subtly let them know that I am available if they have questions or need to talk.
At the same time, sharing video stories on Standups provides them with a visual idea of what I am doing at work, which gives it that extra touch. Suddenly, I am not just their employer, as I would be if our communications took place mostly via email, but I am someone somewhere else living life and working on the same projects. It's more personal and helps us connect, something that builds up our team and work cultures in the end!
When communicating, you may want to take the lead (if you are an employer, that is) and establish a fun, witty work culture by using different apps and emojis or GIFs in your communications. For example, using a funny GIF breaks the tension and shows your employees that they can also have fun at work. Or, using emojis can help your messages sound less dry or not as intimidating.
Letting Others Lead
Having remote employees is something that can be unsettling and can really test your levels of trust! Since employees are not sitting around your office or even in the same city, it can be tough to see whether or not they are fit for the job without giving them a test trial first. This being said, it also forces you to let go of some of the control and to allow them to lead at certain times. Letting your remote employees have a certain amount of control and leadership sets the tone in your virtual office. Generally speaking, most people love to have some say over how they do things and how processes take place. So, why not give your employees this curtesy? Let your team players show some initiative, you'll find that they thrive even more than if you were to provide them with a to-do list daily. You can check their progress through our different features, such as our Trello integration.
Letting Them Connect
Depending on whether your company is entirely remotely staffed or half-half, this may be different for you. It's important to let your employees connect even if they work remotely. Unless you work with mostly contract-based employees who have little to do with one another, try to organize whole-team meetings yearly or bi-yearly to help bring everybody together. These do not have to be very elaborate or expensive, something small will do the trick. You can also separate your different teams, something you can do with our Multiple Standup Teams function. Employees focused on specific parts of your business can connect with each other and discuss their own passions and hobbies and share them with their Standups Stories.
Set Transparency From the Start
An essential part of building workplace culture is making sure that there is no superficiality in your team. In other words, transparency is critical. Transparency ensures trust within your team. It also allows everyone to have the right expectations and helps you avoid useless drama.
For this, make sure to let your employees know that transparency is expected; don't hide things or sweep them under the carpet. If there is a problem, speak out about it instead. Issues will be resolved much more efficiently this way and are less likely to snowball later on!
With Standups, you can have a general thread within the organization, where you can post a video to the whole organization, about a recent issue you encountered that needs to be taken into consideration, or to thank a team member for her/his help in a project.
Separate Business from Casual Talk
Work culture has a lot to do with your employees' relationships with one another. Of course, it's great to see them interacting with one another well; however, this should not impede work. The 'Water Cooler' effect, in other words, something that gathers people into a space to discuss certain things, can both be your best friend and your enemy. This effect is the one where employees' hang out' at the water dispenser, or the kitchen area, discussing just about anything and everything. It's lovely that they get along, but it can cost you a lot in terms of time to productivity ratio. Therefore, make sure that business is separated from casual talks. For 'banter' or joking around between employees, why not create a different Slack channel? With our Slack integration, this is something your team can do on Standups. In the end, this ensures that work culture is created but does not impact your employees' overall productivity.
Get to Know Your Employees– and Vice Versa
Getting to know your employees is my last tip. Imagine trying to get your football team players to play well with each other if they do not know each other well. The likelihood is that they will play quite terribly! And what's worse? If they don't even know each others' names, how are they supposed to call someone when they are open? And, of course, the coach (that's you, the employer) must know players as well as their strengths to know which position to make them play.
So, in non-sport-related terms, this means that your colleagues and employees must know each other well to work well with each other. As their employer, you must know your employee's best skills to give them the right tasks to do. By making sure that everybody is doing the right job for them, everyone knows each other well enough to cooperate efficiently. So, not only are you boosting your company's productivity, but also creating a killer work culture.
Engage and Check Engagement
My final tip: check how engaged your remote workers are. If you notice that a few of them are barely talking or only join the conversation when it relates to them specifically, why not ask them about this? Naturally, some of your employees may be introverts, but others may not feel comfortable joining, especially if they are new to the company. To remedy this, make sure to introduce your employees to the others' well and to describe them, how you met them, what their job tasks are and when to reach out. You can ask them to discuss any hobby they have (to humanize them and help them start a conversation!) or leave it up to them. Ultimately, try to get them to engage.
In the end, work culture will heavily be influenced by how well you can juggle your different employees' schedules, hobbies, and values. You can create a strong culture by evoking a sense of loyalty to the company out of them, something you can build through constant communication and letting them connect. Create different communication channels for various purposes, let them lead new conversations and their own projects, and really get to know them. After all, your employees make up your company!
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