The number of employees working from home is steadily on the rise. Since the pandemic, this number has boomed, and many organizations are deciding to stay remote. If you've been around these last few years, you know how challenging it is to create a strong company culture while remote.
By reading this blog, you'll understand:
- What company culture is
- Why company culture is important
- Best practices for building a culture for remote teams
What Is Company Culture?
According to SHRM, "An organization's culture defines the proper way to behave within the organization." The way an organization defines its culture makes each company unique. Here are some items you might want to define as you create your organization's culture:
- Company values
- How employees show up and what you expect of them
- Community ties and how your business shows up for that community
- The vendors you decide to do business with
- Organizational best practices and goals
Defining a company culture takes effort and thought work, but your team will be rewarded for creating an experience your employees love.
Why Company Culture Matters
Culture is all around you. You're building a company culture, even if you aren't intentional about it. For example, look at your organization's Glassdoor rankings. You've established a reputation in your industry, even if you didn't set out to do so.
As a business, you should be a part of your culture-building story. If you take the reins now, you can build something you can be proud of. If not, you might end up producing something that strays far from the vision you've created for yourself and your company.
By taking the initiative, you can put all the pieces together. Read through the following post to understand the different parts of culture and how you can impact them through outstanding leadership.
How To Translate Company Culture To A Remote Environment
Creating a robust organizational culture in a remote environment has been difficult for many teams. Many executives are still stuck in a pre-COVID line of thinking or waiting for employees to return to the office. If the variants of COVID-19 have taught us anything, we have a while to go. It's crucial to translate culture remotely so that you can keep up with demand and avoid losing your best people to The Great Resignation.
Remote culture isn't that different from an in-person experience.
First, if you've been neglecting culture, get a pulse on your team members today. What are they missing? What would make their remote experience better? How can managers and leaders help them succeed?
Second, implement new policies and procedures to address the remote issues you've been neglecting. Ensure that all employees understand what these new policies and procedures do for them. How can they benefit from the cultural ideas you've put in place?
Last, continue to experiment and iterate. Remote culture, like anything, is an evolving experience. You need to continue to make improvements, survey your employees, and ensure you are meeting their needs.
Remote Hiring And Onboarding Culture Strategies
Strong cultures start during the hiring and onboarding phase of building a team. If you want your culture to have a strong foundation, start by looking at these beginning phases of your employee's journey.
Understand Your Employer Brand
When people think of your company, what comes to mind? What do they say about you when you aren't in the room. Building a great employer brand will get you closer to creating the thriving culture that keeps your best employees in-house.
Head to sites like Glassdoor and Indeed, where employees can review your organization. These are the sites that employees are going to as they consider your open roles. What feedback have you received? Does this feedback have merit? What can you do to change the narrative?
We don't suggest communicating or picking fights over bad feedback. If the input is untrue, report it. If not, make necessary changes that build your reputation as an employer. Over time you should see a shift in employee reviews from these changes.
Create An Employee Portal For New Hires
Where do your new hires land when they want to learn more about your brand? You need to give everyone on your team a place that's easy to access and filled with information about your organization.
"From day one, we put the keys to success in the hands of our new hires. Our employee portal serves as a bank of information about employment at our company to help team members familiarize themselves with our organization," states Shaunak Amin, Co-Founder and CEO of SnackMagic.
Having an employee portal that gives new hires the lay of the land and information they need to thrive at your organization takes time. "Remember, designing an effective employee portal is an ongoing
process. As your business is constantly improving, so too is your employee portal," Shaunak Amin continues.
Remote Communication Strategies
When working from home, communication can be disjointed. You don't get the same natural conversations like saying hello in the hallway or chatting one-on-one before a meeting begins. However, there are several ways to combat the difficulty of communication in remote environments.
Understand Communication Rules
First, you need to set up basic communication rules for your work-from-home organization. Here are some parameters you might want to consider:
- What channel is suitable for which type of communication?
- Which channel does each person prefer?
- When should team members expect answers to communications?
- How late should your team be messaging each other?
- When should your team be available to field customer calls?
Understanding these rules and posting them somewhere your entire team can see is essential to your remote team's communication success.
Adopt Asynchronous Communication Policies
When you first switch to a remote communication environment, it can be challenging to understand when communication happens. Therefore, your organization should establish that you are moving to a more asynchronous communication style. Asynchronous means employees can communicate at a time that makes sense for them.
Adam Hempenstall, CEO of Better Proposals, shares, "We also believe in asynchronous communication since not all of us work in the same time frame. It's important for our employees to know that they don't have to answer every message as soon as they get it."
Create Rules Of Engagement For Remote Communication Methods
After establishing your communication rules, you want to look into communication methods. Establish the types of communication that your team should expect from the leadership team and each other. Take time to note when team members should use each communication method.
- Email (newsletters and one-on-one communications.)
- Video Conferencing Software:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Hangouts/Meet
- In-App Notifications
- Company podcasts
Host A Variety Of Meetings With Your Team
Meetings are an essential part of daily life as a company. It can be easy to get Zoom fatigued and become burned out in front of the camera, but that doesn't negate the power of a well-designed meeting.
Two meetings are essential for remote companies: weekly meetings and one-on-one meetings between managers and direct reports.
"One of the biggest pieces of advice I can give is to always make time for one-on-one meetings with your team members," shares CJ Bachmann, CEO of 1SEO Digital Agency. "Staying consistent with meeting with your team personally allows the lines of communication to stay open and ensures everyone feels heard."
Keeping up with a regular meeting schedule can feel daunting, but it's important, and showing up for your team can have a considerable impact.
Address Conflict In A Healthy Way
As much as we'd like to avoid conflict in the workplace, it's an unavoidable aspect of working with others. Conflict doesn't have to blow up or create ripple effects throughout your workplace.
"Never delay in resolving conflicts: don't leave any emotions unchecked as it may be difficult to resolve if left for too long," advised Matt Brown, CEO of Bonsai, "Know the type of conflict that can be resolved by phone, live chat, or email."
Remote communication is convenient, but employees must understand when to take the conflict to a different communication strategy. For example, it can be difficult to read someone's tone in an email. If you or an employee feels like something is getting lost in translation, it's time to move communication strategies.
Remote Alignment Strategies
According to Merriam-Webster, alignment is "an arrangement of groups or forces in relation to one another." When you align your company, you establish a connection between your employees toward your organization's goals. Alignment is even more challenging when you work with employees all over the country and the world.
Ask For A Yes Before You Assume A Task Is Handed Off
Are you getting a yes before passing a task to another person on your team? Delegation is a significant key to success, but poorly managed delegation can lead to disasters, missed deadlines, and dropped tasks at work. When assigning a job, ensure that you get a yes from the person receiving the assignment. The task is still on your plate if you haven't gotten that answer.
Focus On Company Values
What brings you together when everything else is scattered are your companies core values. When you lean on your shared values, you can get more done than you ever thought possible.
Attaching company values to recognition is the best way to instill them into your culture. With Nectar, you tie every public shout-out to a value to increase the visibility of your core values.
Take the time to create or revisit your company values while working remotely. Then, use a recognition tool like Nectar to share those values and make them a part of your team's vision.
Define Your Company's Purpose Or Mission
Beyond your values, your employees need a mission.
"As humans, we have a fundamental need for a sense of purpose and meaning in what we do," shares Stephen Kohler, the CEO of Audira Labs.
Employees need to understand why they do what they do. In a remote world where distractions and apathy can take root at work, it's important to remind your team members why they love working for your organization. What do you give back to the local community? How can they give back when working for you?
Are you looking for some strategies to build your company's purpose? Kohler adds the following ideas: "Define a national charitable partner, give a certain number of paid volunteer days to your teams, make their work matter."
Make Sure Your Org Chart Is Serving You
When was the last time you took a look at your company's org chart? Working in an office creates a lot of hierarchy. There are corner offices and bigger rooms. Leaders and managers are often well defined in a physical setting.
When switching to a remote setting, it might be worth understanding if the typical org chart serves your organization.
Stephen Kohler shared an insightful comment on team structure in a remote setting, "Remote workforces are accelerating a new leadership style that's highly effective in growing tight-knit cultures, where everyone is empowered to lead."
Giving more leadership responsibilities across the organization motivates your team members to step up and take ownership of the organization's work. This way of thinking can contradict traditional team structures, but it gives everyone a purpose.
Revisit Company Goals/Targets As A Team
Another way to align as a team while remote is to take some time to revisit company goals and targets as a team. Transparency at work is essential to creating a group of people who trust you and your leadership moves.
Many organizations had to revisit or change strategies when the pandemic first began. As a result, some things we thought we wanted a few years ago are no longer possible or don't make sense for an organization's long-term growth.
Set aside time to ensure that everyone is on the same page about where the company wants to go in the next several years.
Remote Employee Experience Strategies
Work is more than meetings and projects. How do your staff members feel about working with you? Are they able to experience some of the fun parts of work?
Stephen Kohler, the CEO of Audira Labs, gave us an important lesson:
"A common trap for many leaders is to see those we lead in one-dimensional terms. We may view them through the perspective of their function (a marketer, an analyst, etc.), their seniority (entry-level or peer), or performance. We often fail to see them as a whole person with multiple dimensions (creative, or adventurous) and lives (parent, community leader, etc.)."
Companies that go beyond what employees can do for them by investing in employee experience get many benefits in return. Employees who love what they do show up refreshed, excited, and ready to tackle issues that work throws at them.
Find Small Ways To Meet Outside Of Work Meetings
Work meetings are fun, but there are many ways to bond outside of regular work meetings. Here are some ideas:
- Happy hours
- Lunch and learns
- Volunteer opportunities
- Birthday parties
- Game nights
Invest In Quarterly Offsites
Larger company offsites are a great way to work together and get extra bonding time. Even if your company is remote, trying to come together once a quarter (if it's safe) is essential. If you can't meet in person, try to create a virtual offsite. You'll be surprised at how great it feels to come together on a larger scale once a quarter.
Use Collaborative Work Tools
It can be easy to feel separated when you can't see what other people are working on or work together effortlessly. Thankfully, your team can use many collaborative work tools to work on projects together.
- Google Drive
Make Employee Wellbeing A Non-Negotiable
Employee wellbeing is an essential part of building a remote team. Unfortunately, it's easy for remote workers to feel isolated and burned out from working long hours.
Several leaders we connected with shared the importance of emotional wellbeing in the workplace:
"When employees operate remotely, physical distance should not create emotional gaps between them or fear of expressing viewpoints and individual needs," explains James Angel, co-founder of DYL. "By promoting wellness among employees through various programs, leaders may demonstrate that success and wellbeing go hand in hand."
"Our strategy is based on making employee wellbeing and satisfaction the main foundation of our culture," shares Sam Shepler, CEO of Testimonial Hero, "This is something we mainly achieved through clear communication and regular one-on-one meetings with employees, where we try our best to keep every member of the team on the same page while making sure remote work isn't psychologically affecting them."
There are many ways to make employee wellbeing a large part of your employee experience. For example, you can have employees participate in employee wellbeing challenges, offer mental health insurance, or offer more time off for mental health days.
Create A Consistent Experience For Team Members
Are you constantly making changes to the experience you bring remote team members? Inconsistency can build a lot of tension and uncertainty among your staff members.
"Constant changes in the remote world can be extremely stressful and can cause anxiety among employees," Joe Davies, Co-Founder of FATJOE, reminded us, "We've promised our employees that we will refrain from constantly changing processes and will value a consistent system so they can get used to how they work and learn to do it well."
As you think about the experience you want to offer employees, how can you add consistency and smoothness to their work process?
Remote Appreciation/Recognition Strategies
Next, let's move into remote appreciation and recognition. How do you share appreciation when your team is located worldwide? Well, you can't lean on a pat on the back or a high-five, unfortunately! There are several ways to appreciate your employees over the internet, though.
Understand Why Appreciation/Recognition Are So Important
First and foremost, you must understand why appreciation is crucial while your team is remote. You should try to go above and beyond to share recognition whenever possible online because it can be challenging for your employees to understand if they are doing a good job or not.
When was the last time you shared a compliment with your remote teammate? If you can't remember the last time you showed appreciation for your team's work, you have to work on remote appreciation.
Create A Regular Appreciation Cadence
One of the best ways to work on remote appreciation is to create a regular appreciation cadence. Your cadence might be as simple as, "I'm going to compliment my direct reports once a week," or "I'm going to compliment someone on my team every day." You have to be steadfast in picking the amount of recognition you want to give to your team.
Use Nectar's Recognition Tool
If you want a way to automate recognition and make it easier for everyone on your team to give each other props and gratitude, use Nectar's recognition tool. Our tool makes it easy for your team to share the love at work while giving you access to some powerful analytics to help increase participation and get insight into future company leaders.
Remote Rewards/Incentives Strategies
Recognition is one thing, but sometimes you need rewards and incentives to make your employees happy. Using rewards as a remote company might seem complicated, but it's not as much work as it looks like it could be.
Some Of Your Team Members Like Physical Gifts
We've talked about love languages on the NectarHR blog. Love languages are how we receive love or recognition from others. Some people like words of affirmation, but some members of your team probably appreciate physical gifts more. Using rewards in addition to recognition can help you reach out to a broader number of your employees.
You Don't Need To Spend Thousands To Give A Great Reward
Whether you are a small company or a large one, the price tag of rewards might throw you off. Your employees aren't that materialistic. A thoughtful reward with a $20 price tag can be just as beneficial at creating healthy relationships as something worth $200. Take your time when picking rewards, and make sure they fit the person you are shopping for.
Find Someone To Handle Employee Rewards
Last, you'll want to use someone like Nectar to handle employee rewards. Shipping gift cards, swag, or other rewards all across the country can be a logistical nightmare. With Nectar, your employees can cash out their points for rewards whenever they'd like. In addition, you don't have to handle vendor relationships to access thousands of rewards and discounts. Nectar handles everything, saving you tons of time and energy!
3 Companies Who Are Known For Their Remote Corporate Culture
Do you want some inspiration as you consider how to improve your remote corporate culture? Here are three companies that are well-known for their remote culture, so you can look at some of the benefits, perks, and experiences they offer their remote team members.
Buffer is well-known as a company that champions remote work. Since getting started over a decade ago, they've been building a global team. They put many of their insights on creating a remote culture into their blog, Open, and they have many transparency resources like their transparent salaries page. On top of their thought leadership and salaries, they offer great benefits like a four-day work week, health insurance, a minimum vacation of three weeks, family leave, and a 401(k) with company match.
InVision is also a remote-first company with many awards for creating a stellar work environment for employees. InVision has been lauded for offering an outstanding work/life balance, having increased employee happiness, and having a stellar CEO leading the team. In addition, they offer great perks and benefits like a peer recognition budget, family caregiving support, annual self-development funds, and charitable donation matching.
Last, Skillshare has also gotten a reputation for leading a great remote experience for their people. They've been recognized as a great place to work for women and fathers as well as recognized by sites like Forbes as a great place to work. As far as perks and benefits are concerned, Skillshare offers many positive benefits like a $750 home office stipend, monthly reimbursements for high-speed internet, paid sabbaticals for tenured employees, unlimited vacation with a minimum for time off, and parental leave.
Handling connections with remote employees isn't easy. There are many moving parts to consider, especially if you want to do more than the bare minimum. Hopefully, this article has given you several tips and strategies to consider as you move to create the best remote experience for your staff members.
Revamping your remote experience won't happen overnight. Take this process one step at a time, so you don't overwhelm your employees. Your goal should be to make simple changes that do more good than harm to your team members.
Go through each section of this article and create a list of action items that you can utilize to improve your remote work culture. Then, plan how you will accomplish that and what kind of buy-in you need to make it a reality. Many of these strategies will take weeks or even months to implement. That's okay. Take your time and build a company culture you can be proud of in the process.