How to Grow a Positive Company Culture with a Remote Team
The importance of a positive corporate culture is well established. Engaged and motivated employees are more productive, to the extent that 83% of executives say engaged employees are the primary factor for their business success. Creating a positive culture helps you attract and retain top talent, with 56% of jobseekers saying that culture is more important than compensation and 38% saying they’d reject any employer with poor employee reviews.
But growing company culture is tough when everyone is working remotely, especially since it was probably forced upon you by COVID-19. Waiting for things to “get back to normal” isn’t an option; after their pandemic WFH experience, 80% of workers expect to continue working remotely at least 3 times a week, and 50% say they won’t return to jobs that don’t offer some WFH option.
SMB owners have no choice but to adjust to the new reality and find the right policies and tactics to promote a positive corporate culture, even from a distance.
Create Opportunities for Employee Bonding
When employees are out the office, it’s easy to lose a sense of connection. Remote workers say that their biggest struggles are with communication and loneliness, so bridge the distance through virtual communication channels like Slack and WhatsApp.
Encourage people to get to know each other, especially new hires, by starting fun and informal conversations. You could ask people to share personal anecdotes, morning selfies, or ask who’s working with you at home today, to help break the ice.
It’s equally important to arrange fun bonding experiences. These could be intermittent, like an online escape room challenge, or regular, like delivering lunch to each employee and inviting everyone to eat together online. If you previously had in-person weekly meditation or fitness sessions, recreate them as virtual events. Finally, organize in-person get-togethers whenever possible, especially as vaccines roll out and in-person socializing makes a comeback.
Give Workers the Tools They Need to Work Efficiently
If remote working was unexpectedly thrust upon you, your employees might not have the tools and equipment they need to work from home.
For example, employees who are accustomed to scheduling meetings by shouting across the office would appreciate a collaboration app that allows everyone to share the times when they’re free. Workers who used to ask their neighbor to pass a hard copy file would benefit from a project management platform that offers easy access to digital resources, and the best organizer app for Android can help them boost productivity and regain control over their lives. Equally, employees might need new hardware, like an ergonomic chair, a reliable printer, or an upgrade for their WiFi speed.
When you care about your employees’ wellbeing, it helps them feel part of a single unit that’s working together. In contrast, leaving employees to arrange their own WFH setup only triggers frustration and resentment, which can destroy all the positive culture you worked so hard to achieve.
Keep Everyone on the Same Page
Informal chat is only one pillar keeping employees engaged. You also need to share official updates and information on a regular basis, so that nobody feels left out. Nothing undermines morale faster than when employees hear important business news through the company grapevine, or worse, a news media announcement.
In order to make sure that nothing and nobody slips through the cracks, try to slim down your communications tech stack. If conversations are taking place and resources are being shared across a dozen different channels, it’s easy for things to get overlooked. Choose just one platform for sharing resources and assigning tasks, and one for official business updates.
Define Remote Work Expectations
Nothing creates bad feeling faster than frustrated expectations, so make it clear what you require from your WFH employees. State clear policies, like core work hours when everyone should be available, and how late is too late to expect a response to a work message. This way, you can circumvent resentment from the late owl who sent an urgent email at 11pm or the parent of small children who’s juggling work around zoom school.
But don’t be too rigid about work hours. Employees agree that flexibility is the biggest benefit of working from home, and would resent it if you began tracking their work time. Track employee performance by goals and achievements, rather than hours worked.
Keep an Eye on Employee Engagement Metrics
When everyone’s working remotely, it can be hard to tell who’s engaged and who’s dissatisfied or to pick up on negative office vibes. As well as scheduling times to talk one on one with each employee at regular intervals, it’s worthwhile to stay on top of engagement metrics.
There are a number of ways to track employee engagement, including sending out periodic employee feedback surveys and tracking who’s participating in chats on your work channels. Check data on project management platforms too, to see which employees are completing tasks at the last minute or show a change in their performance. Once you have this data, you can tweak your policies and check in with specific employees who might be struggling.
A Good Company Culture Can Span Any Distance
Maintaining a positive corporate culture while everyone is working remotely is a difficult challenge, but one that’s far too important to fail. By providing the right tools and bonding opportunities, encouraging communication, keeping everyone on the same page, and following employee engagement, you can sustain employee engagement and motivation even from a distance.