If absence can make the heart grow fonder…can distance make the team grow stronger?
Cultivating company culture with remote employees may not be so far-fetched after all.
When managing a company or team with remote employees located all around the globe, creating a strong, positive company culture can be hard.
And this can be challenging even with a traditional office.
With remote workers, you lack the physical presence of some (or all!) employees, and opportunities for conversation and collaboration are also limited.
But this doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a true team culture.
In fact, remote working can actually lead to a stronger work culture! And it works both ways – a strong work culture will, in turn, serve to motivate and unite your remote workers.
But how? Through a combination of tools, practices and habits, you too can create a culture that’s positive, dynamic, solid, and close-knit!
Read on to discover the steps towards a great remote work culture.
Why Need A Company Culture for Your Remote Team?
Remote companies will often have employees in all different locations and of all different nationalities.
So, what really ties these employees together? What makes them a real ‘team’?
Without a unifying force to tie them together, they may end up feeling distant and disconnected.
Company culture is this unifying force. Thus, it is even more important and appreciated for virtual teams. It allows them to still enjoy being a part of something together.
Workers who share and uphold your company culture are more likely to take pleasure in their work.
As a result, they will likely produce greater results and stay on longer with your company.
Relationships require communication. But when you only communicate via email, building relationships with your colleagues doesn’t happen quite so naturally.
The kind of casual conversations that happen face-to-face in the office just aren’t the same through a screen.
But, this isn’t to say that email is useless! It simply isn’t the right tool for creating an office culture. Nowadays, instant messaging tools such as Slack provide a virtual office, with different channels and functionalities that create a more personalised, creative, and synchronised way of communicating.
These tools can be used to create a virtual water cooler.
In a standard office space, the water cooler, coffee machine, or other communal area is a focal point for casual employee conversations.
These small conversations help employees relax, socialise, and motivate each other in even the most subtle ways.
Conversation helps build better bonds between employees. With channels or group chats, the same water cooler discussion is made easy. And it can connect employees on opposite ends of the earth.
Equally useful for remote teams is video calling or conferencing. Putting a face or voice to a name can make all the difference. It’s the perfect opportunity to hold meetings in real-time and can allow for much more efficient and effective collaboration.
Yes, remote working comes with many benefits and conveniences… But, if you have the resources, why not arrange an occasional or one-off meeting for them in person?
Arranging some kind of retreat or quality time away can help your employees bond with one another.
A blend of workshops and meetings, along with excursions and fun activities, can create a productive and collaborative atmosphere. Creating shared memories and having events to look forward to will help your remote workers feel part of the team. This collective sense of identity and purpose is crucial to any company.
Guide & Support
Management plays a fundamental role in developing and reinforcing your remote company culture.
It all starts with your recruiting process. Keep an eye out for candidates who demonstrate similar values and goals to your company. This is the ultimate way to enrich and strengthen your existing culture.
Taking on employees who disagree with company policies or working patterns will not lead to a harmonious culture. Of course, you should still remain open-minded and flexible when hiring.
Diversity is key. Ultimately, it means the difference between hiring for culture ‘add’ or enhancement over culture fit.
It’s important to maintain and nurture your values and mission after hiring, too. Remote workers tend to work independently, meaning that knowledge and emotion (both fundamental to culture) cannot be shared as easily.
As part of your onboarding process, newcomers should learn about what makes your company/brand unique and meaningful. Similarly, they should be encouraged to make it even more unique and meaningful by bringing their own ideas to the table.
This is where the management team can do their part to be open. They should take the time to listen to and action suggestions where appropriate. The open door policy can still apply without a physical door!
Handle with Care
The simple fact is that a positive team culture comes from a positive team, and vice versa. But with remote teams, it’s even more important that everyone gets to participate.
Although there are some barriers with the virtual that don’t exist with the physical, creating the company culture you want is perfectly doable. In fact, you may just discover even more opportunities by taking things beyond the four walls of a standard office.
With distance comes space – space for creativity, open-minded thinking, and opportunity. So, why not make the most of it, in a time where distance is no longer an insurmountable divide between us?