What Is Your Ideal Company Culture? 8 Strategies to Create a Top-Notch Remote-Work Environment
Since 2005, remote work has grown by 140%, which is almost ten times faster than the rest of the workforce.
The ongoing global pandemic has disrupted the workforce even further by forcing more companies to learn a great deal about their work protocols, IT infrastructure, culture, and adapt them for remote work in order to ensure business continuity.
Remote work has been proven to increase productivity, employee satisfaction and retention, reduce operation costs, and promote access to a larger and more skilled talent base, amongst other benefits.
Being part of an amazing team can greatly improve the overall working experience. The success of your remote team will be defined by your company culture. Unfortunately, you cannot create a healthy, positive corporate culture out of thin air.
To develop a fantastic culture for your remote teams, you have to put the right structures and processes in place to support your employees so that they can thrive and propel the company towards success.
Whether you’re building a remote team from scratch or switching from a traditional work setting, setting up an effective and efficient remote work environment can be quite the challenge.
Not to worry, I’m here to guide you through this process so you can make the most of your remote team. Here are 9 strategies and tips on how to develop a stellar culture and create a productive environment for your remote workforce.
1. Envision and define your company culture
The culture of a company does not reside in brick and mortar, but in its values. Unlike a traditional office setting, you can’t just install a ping-pong table, plush furniture, a fitness gym, or a game room and consider your work done.
You have to actively implement and encourage initiatives that engage the whole team and motivates them to work together to make the company’s goals a reality.
Start by imagining what your ideal work environment would be. Do you want hard work, creativity, and innovation to be the watchword, or do you want to take a laid back approach to collaboration and productivity?
Think of how best your company’s mission statement, brand identity, and values can be reflected in the lives of your employees. Come up with ideas for the future of the company that you can all aspire to.
Don’t neglect to involve your employees in this process. Let them contribute ideas, suggestions, and feedback that can help bring your culture to life or improve upon it.
Make sure that everyone understands what your organization stands for, what you’re working towards, and how they’re expected to conduct themselves in the course of business.
2. Equip employees with the right tools and resources
To establish a top-notch remote work environment, you must have the appropriate infrastructure to help your team share information, accomplish tasks, and collaborate effectively in real-time.
You have to invest in good technology to match the requirements of your organization.
Here are some must-have tools to consider:
- Sales tools to automate or streamline certain processes
- Cloud-based collaboration programs
- Essential communication tools like VoIP tools, etc.
- Video conferencing software, such as Lifesize, Google Hangouts, Zoom
- Instant messaging apps
- Password management tools (Dashlane)
- Screen sharing services (Screenleap)
- Project management software (Trello, Asana, Airtable),
- File-sharing services (Google Drive, Smartsheet).
To avoid any misunderstandings, agree on the purpose of each collaboration tool and make sure that your remote team members are all using the same products.
3. Promote consistent dialogue
Communication is crucial for measuring expectations, ensuring that everyone is on the same page, and eliminating confusion.
Schedule regular team check-ins and one-on-ones to discuss priorities, questions, issues, the status of project tasks, as well as any personal developments or concerns of your remote workers.
You could do this on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis depending on what you feel will work best for your particular situation without being perceived as insincere or disruptive.
Share news, updates, upcoming events, and opportunities related to your company and industry with your remote team so they always feel like they are in the loop.
Regular communication with their peers, managers and even HR will give your remote team members the information, perspective, and human interactions they need to function adequately. They’ll be able to express themselves, process negative emotions, celebrate their wins, present ideas, seek help, and feel more in control of their work and environment.
4. Build a company knowledge base
It’s important to have a central knowledge base that documents all the processes of your companies that employees may need to familiarize themselves with.
Your knowledge base should contain answers to frequently asked questions about your business and its offerings, detailed instructions on how to perform crucial tasks and maintain online security, workflow charts that show who is responsible for what, and who should be contacted for clarification or resolution of various issues.
Make sure company documents are saved in a digital library that is easily accessible to others. Create usernames and passwords, and approve appropriate permission levels to this database so employees can access them at any hour of the day, wherever they are.
A company knowledge base will encourage your remote workers to find solutions to their problems by themselves instead of constantly seeking help from other team members. It also promotes transparency, efficiency, effective communication, and reduces bottlenecks.
5. Provide proper onboarding processes
You may not be able to show remote workers their desks or how to work the communal office machine, but you need to properly introduce them to their new workplace so they can familiarize themselves with the company culture and operational procedures.
For each member of your remote team to be able to carry out their functions independently and efficiently, it’s important that they have a good grasp of communication protocols, internal systems, workflow structures, policies, and other important company information.
Set up a video call for new hires to get to meet their colleagues. Establish clear expectations so everyone knows what their main tasks and responsibilities are.
Don’t just assume that people know how to use the remote team tools you have in place. Create a solid remote work policy, provide training and support to ensure that they gain the necessary knowledge required to maximize productivity, and generate the best outcomes.
6. Focus on results, not processes
The beauty of remote work is that it allows for flexibility. It shouldn’t matter when or how employees choose to work as long as they can complete their assigned tasks by the stated deadline.
Unlike a communal office environment, it can be hard to track how much time people are actually putting into their work in a remote setting, so you have to shift your focus to something more concrete—results.
Not being able to directly monitor what your workers are doing is not an excuse to resort to micromanaging. This will lead to your remote team becoming fatigued, disengaged, and unhappy.
What you need to do is provide supportive structures, set clear expectations for each team member with timelines and measurable goals, then leave it to them to get the job done in ways that are most convenient for them.
Instead of strictly enforcing processes, empower your team by being flexible, and pay attention to things that are being accomplished.
7. Build a good rapport amongst team members
Work should not be the only thing your remote team has in common. Foster engagement, loyalty, and bonding between your employees by encouraging non-work-related interactions.
Team members should get to know each other on a personal level, not just a professional one. The more connected your employees are, the more inclined they’ll be to work harder for the good of the team.
Come up with initiatives to build rapport amongst team members. You could all participate in virtual activities like playing online games, synchronous parties, happy hour, house tours, or fitness challenges.
If your budget allows for it, take the whole team on an all-inclusive retreat somewhere nice. The face-to-face time can create a bond that won’t be broken easily.
Set up channels where team members can interact freely, share their interests, passions, that new TV show they can’t get enough of, or random stories about their lives.
8. Increase recognition for hard work
It’s easy to forget that your remote employees are not faceless machines working tirelessly to help your organization achieve its goals.
You might not be able to walk up to them and congratulate them for a job well done, but it’s still important to appreciate and praise your remote employees for the work that they do, as this will motivate them to work harder.
It’ll also signal to others that they should emulate certain behaviors in order to be noticed and rewarded for their contributions.
You can create a program with huge prizes or cash bonuses for the top employees. However, recognition doesn’t have to be monetary. It can take the form of public acknowledgment, tokens of appreciation, and other low-cost incentives.
Beyond just recognizing achievement, you can improve your remote work-environment and take your culture to the next level by providing training, development, and career advancement opportunities for your team.
Cultivate a strong remote work culture
Great company culture is about putting people in positions that allow them to be their most productive and best selves whether they’re working in a traditional or remote setting.
Remote work comes with a unique set of challenges that you have to understand to properly manage your team, meet their needs, and help your organization stand out.
Your team must be equipped with the resources they need to perform their jobs adequately. It’s up to you to develop streamlined processes, facilitate effective communication, provide sufficient training and tools, and also monitor and highlight performances.
If you’ve implemented all these strategies, you should be able to create a first-rate remote work environment and a winning team without trouble.
The future of work is remote, are you ready?