A strong company culture ensures your company’s core values are kept foremost on all aspects concerning the day-to-day operations. It forms the foundation of your organization’s structure and defines your company’s identity. You have probably invested a lot of time in building and growing positive company culture. But then you find that modern technology or even the current pandemic has shifted the way your employees work. Your employees are dispersed and working from the safety of their homes.
How can you ensure your company culture remains intact and that your organization’s values, mission, and goals continue to stay at the very heart of your organization? How can you ensure that your company culture reaches every employee no matter where they work? Whether your company already consists of remote workers or the current pandemic has forced you to embrace a distributed team model, company culture must continue in order to succeed.
Here’s how to improve company culture when your team works remotely:
Create, share, and communicate your company values with your remote team
It seems obvious enough that any company desiring to maintain or improve its company culture would communicate with its remote workforce about it. Surprisingly, it’s simple enough to forget. Many organizations and employees leave the company culture back at the office. So, let’s start with the very obvious:
If you don’t have your company culture ready, now is the time to create it. If the existing company culture needs refinement, do it now. Once prepared, ensure every employee is aligned with it.
Document your company culture well and make it public. For example, ensure your values are visible on the company website. The document must be clear, well-articulated, and inspiring.
Start a weekly newsletter. Employees can share how they integrate the company’s values and culture into their workflow when working remotely.
Encourage peer-to-peer recognition. Employees can nominate co-workers who imbibe the company’s values. Awards/gift vouchers can be given out during a monthly remote meeting or online get-together.
Standardize all the procedures, practices, and processes across offices and geographies. For example, a remote employee should be onboarded just like any other in-office employee.
As the company continues to grow or change, reassess the company culture and keep it updated.
Establish clear communication practices
The lack of communication can be an obstacle when working remotely. Employee engagement can drop off the bandwagon without proper communication. Since worker engagement is essential for any collaboration, companies must take extra care to ensure remote workers stay in the loop.
- Utilize the right communication tools and platforms to foster a culture of open dialogue and collaboration. Slack, Skype, Twist, Zoom, UberConference, and Google Meet are just some of the common workplace communication platforms used by remote teams.
- Ensure you have rules in place for communicating with teams in different time zones. For example, do you want to have options for asynchronous or synchronous communication?
- Centralize all shared information to ensure everyone can access knowledge. Avoid paper trails as there is a risk that they can lead to misplaced documents. Instead, choose a cloud storage solution like Dropbox or Google Drive to store shared documents. Use one solution for the entire organization so that all shared information is in one place. To keep track of projects, use a project management platform like Hibox.
- Set clear and doable goals that cross-functional teams agree to and understand. Pair this with frequent check-ins and updates that reach all the team members. Allow time for corrections and adjustments right from the beginning.
- Use video to communicate when possible, as text-based communication can often be misinterpreted.
Improve your personal communication
- Keep team members updated with your status on a designated channel. Slack and Teamwork Chat are great for collaborating with teams.
- Ensure your team knows when you are signed into work, are available to take calls, or logged out for lunch.
- Share what you are doing, but also share results. For example, you can provide frequent updates on sales reports, team capacity, team wins, and client feedback.
Discourage isolation and encourage camaraderie
Here are some things you can do to preserve a sense of belonging and camaraderie with remote teams.
- Welcome new employees in front of the entire team. You would do this if you were working from an office, so why not continue to do that? You can do this via a Skype Video or Google Meeting.
- Encourage new employees to arrange to have one-on-one sessions with each of the team members to understand everyone’s role, get to know them better, and give others a chance to get to know them. All of this will provide new employees with an opportunity to develop working relationships with team members.
- Encourage open communication and feedback. Ensure there are clear communication channels that are always open and transparent.
- Incorporate friendliness and familiarity into all your requests and feedback.
Establish remote and in-person company-wide initiatives and team-building activities
Company-wide and department-specific initiatives, fun activities, and celebrations must continue if you want to develop and maintain a strong and robust remote culture. Hold virtual events that bring together employees from different departments and different locations as well.
- Hold meetings for the entire organization to update employees of significant milestones and events.
- Make video meetings mandatory. This reinforces company values and promotes teamwork. You can even have a theme for each session to make it more participative. For example, you could have meetings on negotiation skills, presentation skills, or even communication skills.
- Host company-side competitions like trivia night or home bingo, remember, to include prizes.
- In-person meetups are essential even for remote workers. Bring everyone together for a retreat once a year and use the event to reiterate the company values.
- Explore digital tools for collaboration and fun among teams. Create a fun chat channel that can be used for casual conversations and for employees to bond over mutual interests like movies, pets, and food. Ensure there are ground rules about the kind of content shared so that nobody is offended.
Replicate office perks
Office perks, which are a big bonus when you work from a typical workplace, are often overlooked when you have a virtual or remote team.
- Provide employees with individual snack packs – have them delivered to their homes to keep the energy-levels alive.
- Organize virtual social get-togethers, like game nights, a virtual cooking class, or paint night.
Hire a remote team with care
Not everyone is cut out for working remotely. To ensure the company culture is maintained, hiring the right people is a must.
Use hiring tools to help you make the right hiring decisions. TalenX.io offers analytic software to ensure you find the right candidate. The company’s Personality Inventory uses predictors to measure every candidate on various metrics, such as innovation, resilience, critical thinking skills, and on-the-job achievements so that you get the best person for every job.
Have a succession plan in place
Company culture can be maintained only if future leaders buy-into and uphold the existing culture. To enable this to happen, culture-driven succession planning is necessary, where leaders are chosen for their alignment with the company culture. To successfully create a succession plan, follow these tips:
- Encapsulate who you are as a company and where you’re heading in the next decade.
- Include succession planning in performance appraisal for high-level employees, so managers take grooming of prospective candidates seriously.
- Look for employees who have traits that can support and strengthen company culture.
- Judge skill & emotional competency using psychometric and task-related tests.
- Plan for skill & knowledge development activities for high-potential candidates.
- Monitor and measure changes in candidates’ performance & managerial strategy post-development.
- Choose the person with the best-fit with team & company culture.
Plan for new-leadership transitions
Make use of analytical tools to help with the leadership transition. TalenX.io analytics makes use of technological advancements and organizational psychology to accurately match every employee’s soft skills level with a role that fits them best. The software helps managers and employees to craft a career path that enables employees to grow into their roles.
To enable a seamless succession planning and leadership transition, do the following:
- Ensure the new leaders understand how the company’s existing values must be kept intact.
- Ensure roles are well-defined, and key competencies are in place to better understand how employees can succeed in their new job.
- Provide sufficient training and development so that employees can acquire essential skills to fulfill their new roles.
Building a company culture is one thing, but maintaining it is quite different. Maintaining a company culture becomes far more complicated and challenging when your organization consists of remote teams. Although difficult, it is not impossible. Even if all the company’s employees are scattered across the globe, HR can take steps to cultivate a sense of belonging and a zeal to work toward the common goals and aims of the company.