Business owners know how important company culture is to their success. They also are aware of the cost-saving benefits of having a virtual team. While these two goals may initially seem at odds, it is entirely possible to have a positive company culture with a remote team.
When you encourage a positive company culture, you gain a competitive advantage. An estimated 94% of executives believe that strong company culture is integral to a company’s success. Your culture gives your employees a reason to come into work each day and give their all.
Positive company culture is important for a number of reasons:
- It improves employee morale
- It lowers stress
- It leads to higher job satisfaction
- It increases productivity
- It reduces turnover
With remote workers, you have an added challenge. Remote workers cannot be physically involved in your company’s day-to-day activities in the office, so you have to go the extra mile to incorporate these employees into your company culture.
With a few changes to your virtual work environment, you can make sure remote workers are also engaged and excited about working with your business. Here are eight ways you can change your workplace to create company culture for remote employees.
1. Refine Your Company Core Values
Before you can create a positive company culture, you must understand what your company stands for and how you want employees to behave every day, no matter where they are located. Building core values and having a mission statement helps you define who you are as a company and creates clear guidelines on what behaviors you value.
Incorporate Your Values
Once you have defined your core values, you can use these values as a guide for building your culture. For example, a company that focuses on fun and family values may want to incorporate vacation time and paid leave into their benefits package or offer flexible working hours, especially for parents. Meanwhile, a corporation known for its competitive nature may host quarterly incentives between different workplace teams, no matter where they are located.
Sit down with your team to brainstorm ideas. What does your company do? What do you care about? And what do your employees care about?
Ask Your Employees
If you are struggling to answer these questions, look at your current team members. What kind of employees are drawn to your company?
What qualities make your employees more likely to stay? Employees rarely stay at a company if they don’t fit in with your company’s culture. Your long-term employees are a good indicator of the type of attitude and personality your business attracts.
Your new company culture might require current employees to make changes, so be sure to communicate the value clearly. If employees understand the why behind these changes, they’re more likely to get on board. You can also try proven techniques like focusing on employee wellness to excite your workers about their new culture.
In addition, try setting goals about what you want your company to accomplish. These can be anything from sales targets to improving customer service. Perhaps you’ve had a lot of turnover and you want to implement an incentive program to improve retention. Whatever your goals are, you then need to create the cultural values that will help you reach them.
2. Communicate Your Culture Goals
Communicating your goals is important to keep employees engaged and working toward a shared mission. In a virtual work environment, this is especially important. Your remote employees can’t enjoy a spur-of-the-moment cup of coffee in the break room or happy hour with their co-workers. The only thing remote workers know about your organization is what you tell them.
With this in mind, you need to communicate your company values and culture goals. Include your values and a discussion of your mission during the onboarding process. If everyone understands what the company’s culture is, they can work toward achieving those goals and ideas.
3. Encourage Socializing
Company culture is often communicated to new hires by long-tenured employees and leadership. New hires tend to identify their company’s culture through interactions with coworkers, working on projects, and sometimes more social occasions — gatherings like potlucks, employee retreats, and lunches with their co-workers. With remote workers, you have to deliberately encourage socializing between your employees via virtual communication tools.
Socializing together by using communication tools can help you drive employee engagement. When employees feel like they are a part of a team, they are more engaged and more enthusiastic about their work.
Thankfully, the internet and online platforms make socializing and collaboration easier for a global workforce. You can start by trying simple techniques like using a chat room for employees on their coffee break. Companies can also set up Facebook groups for their workers or entire chat channels that encourage remote employees to connect with one another.
Online learning courses and onboarding options can also include a social component. You should ask for feedback after different milestones like you would with an in-person employee.
4. Get to Know Everyone Personally — Even Those Working Remote
Socializing is important for more than just your employees. You should also go out of your way to get to know all your employees. When your employees feel like you care about them and listen to their needs, they feel appreciated and connected to your company.
Employers and managers should make an effort and get to know their remote workers. In addition to making your employees more engaged, this contributes to a positive company culture.
It allows all of your employees to feel like they are a valued part of your team. More importantly, it opens the door to future communication about problems, ideas, and new goals.
Be sure to get regular feedback from your remote employees as well. The main way to discover problems is by asking employees about them. Your remote employees have completely different experiences day-to-day than your in-office employees, so be open to hearing their feedback on how your company can best support virtual workers.
As you can tell from this OfficeVibe review, it is also important to use data analytics and other metrics to track how engaged your employees are. Then, you can act on any feedback you receive to make a more positive and productive workplace.
5. Schedule Regular Video Calls
Back in 1962, “The Jetsons” promised Americans that all workers would be communicating with their employers and families through videophones. Today, Facebook’s 1.5 billion users make 55 million calls each day. In 2016, 54 percent of American workers participated in a video conference regularly. It seems like the videophone in “The Jetsons” is finally a reality.
While text-based communications are ideal for day-to-day operations, video calls have a personal feel. This is especially important for anyone who works in a virtual work environment. When you use video calls, it allows your team members to get to know each other face-to-face, read body language, and communicate more openly.
Group calls and one-on-one calls help all of your remote workers feel included and valued. It might be impossible for everyone to interact in a face-to-face environment, but technology can make a similar experience possible. Constant text conversations might be effective, but they will get old after a while. A proper face-to-face is important to keep morale up and allow everyone to stay on the same page.
Video calls allow tone to be interpreted properly and facial expressions to be read. Proper human interaction will be a welcome break from the monotony of reading and typing that a remote worker is surrounded by. It’s a good idea to simply keep a running appointment every week or every other week with each full-time remote worker. While many people use Skype for video calls, Zoom and Google Duo are also excellent choices.
6. Use Virtual Work Environment Software that Works for You
It was almost impossible to telecommute 100 years ago. Unless you were a novelist, a seamstress, or a painter, you were probably not going to spend your time working from home. Now, countless apps and software programs make it possible to work from home and manage remote teams.
The main question is: which programs you need to use to ensure your virtual work environment functions as it should? Various programs can be used for different, specific tasks. Tools like OfficeVibe help you determine how engaged your employees are and platforms like Teamweek help you collaborate as a team and delegate different tasks among your workers. There are also software like Findmyshift that allows you to create employee schedule for tasks that need to be monitored 24/7. If you want to run your business and track your financial health, QuickBooks is also a helpful app.
7. Host Virtual Team Building Events
When you hire remote workers, it’s incredibly important to conduct team-building activities to strengthen the bonds between your workers. Remote workers often feel disconnected, so engaging them with the rest of your team is key to retaining them and ensuring they are doing their best work.
Your company culture is partially determined by all of the connections and bonds your employees create with each other. When people feel connected to each other, they are also more likely to stay at your company. These bonds provide employees with support when they have questions about how to do a particular task or solve a problem.
With a remote team, team building ideas can help increase your efficiency and productivity. These activities also help your team build common goals, respect, and trust. You can try traditional techniques like two truths and a lie. With this game, each team member shares two truths and a lie about themselves and their life. Then, other team members have to guess which statement was a lie. Incorporate these games into regular meetings and have your remote workers put in their schedules as well. They can join through a video call and play just as easily as everyone else.
You can also do contests like taking photos and determining who has the best desk. Again, remote workers can easily participate by sending photos.
8. Hire Right
If you want to develop a positive culture, you have to make sure you hire the right employees. For example, a shy, introverted individual might have a great work ethic and lots of work experience, but they may never thrive in a customer service role that requires constant interaction. An outgoing, friendly person who loves talking to people is what you want for a customer service representative.
You want the employee’s personality to match your company and the employee’s future job. If they do not fit in with your company’s culture, they will not enjoy being a part of your company and will eventually leave.
In addition to keeping your employees for longer, this technique also makes it easier to maintain your company’s culture. Finding the right personality, skills, and character traits in a worker begins during your initial hiring process.
Look at the applicant’s resume to see if they have the skills you need. You should also have your applicants interview with one or more employees before you hire them. These can be more informal and focus less on skills and more on personality. Relaxed and casual conversations will help the candidate relax and give you a good idea of how they would fit in with the company as a whole. Your current employees are a good representation of your culture. If the applicant gets along with them, there is an excellent chance that they will be a natural fit.
When it comes to assessing how they would function within the workplace, you can ask some behavioral questions such as:
- Have you ever made a mistake at work? How did you handle it?
- How do you handle challenges? Give me an example.
- Tell me about a time you worked well under pressure.
- What do you do when you disagree with someone at work?
Questions like these will give you an idea of how they behave in certain critical situations within the workplace. Challenges arise and everyone makes mistakes from time to time — it’s important that your employees are well-equipped to handle them without creating even more problems.
Always Include Your Remote Workers
When you interact with employees everyday in an office environment, it is easy to get instant feedback and adjust your employees’ experience.
In a virtual work environment, you have to go to extra lengths to incorporate your remote workers into your culture. Include your remote workers in the process of improving your workplace by following the suggestions above. With a few changes and extra planning, you can develop a positive company culture with your remote team.