Now that all the buzz about work-from-home is settling, it’s time to take a stock of things to come. Organizations must now look back and assess the significant shift to remote work and discover the things that work and the things that need to be fixed.
Undoubtedly, remote work has made many things more manageable. It has allowed organizations to maximize their resources and introduce new ways of doing things that don’t keep employees stay put to their desks. But this flexibility and convenience come with a cost. Cultivating an influential company culture was always a challenge, but this challenge has increased manifold with a remote workforce.
What is Company Culture, and Why Does it Matter?
Company culture is an essential factor in the success of any company. It is the environment that people work in. The way people behave, communicate, and interact with each other will determine an organization's culture that can be good or bad. It determines the work environment of your organization. The culture can either motivate or demotivate employees. Companies need to communicate company values to know what they are working towards. This is to create a common goal for achieving value. Strong company culture will lead to efficient collaboration and happier employees.
Workplace Collaboration in the Work from Home Era
Previously, remote work was the domain of industries like tech and customer service, where the gig economy flourished unbounded. The past couple of years became the only viable alternative to work in a health crisis. Many other industries have now warmed up to the advantages it offers. Remote work is an excellent route for organizations that can manage it well - it's cheaper, allows people to avoid the stress of commuting and no need for extra office space.
On the other hand, the growing number of remote teams (currently 45% of U.S. companies) has introduced new challenges to the traditional office culture practices.
For organizations that are only now integrating remote work, the challenge is to revitalize company culture. With boardroom meetings being replaced by Zoom calls and face-to-face interactions being sidelined by online chats social media channels like Slack or Discord are becoming very popular.
It is imperative for companies that want their employees to be a part of the team to provide specific tools. Increasingly, there is a need to keep up and stay ahead of the curve. But more than adopting fancy tech and the newest communication channel, keeping things simple and focusing on the big picture may do more good.
“What the past year has shown me is that the basics matter more than ever. Yes, Covid-19 has driven us to use new technologies, but it hasn’t changed the core nature of good business development.”
- Jody Sutter, Founder, The Sutter Company
Remote Work Best Practices that Can Help Preserve Company Culture
Remote work is becoming a widespread practice. It may seem counter-intuitive but remote work offers many benefits for organizations that can manage it well.
The growing number of remote teams (currently 45% of U.S. companies) has introduced new challenges to the traditional office culture practices. For example, remote workers need to find ways to interact with their colleagues - they can use online chat, phone calls, video conferencing, or social media channels like Slack or Discord.
There are many ways that organizations can explore to make their remote work culture more engaging. However, best practices are proven and can help you immediately shift into delivering a more dynamic culture that is agnostic of location.
Tips to Build a Thriving Company Culture in Remote Teams
Remote team members are essential to the company and should be treated with respect as office employees. This will increase their morale and make sure that remote workers don't feel alienated or ignored.
Encourage remote employees to participate in office breakfasts, company lunches, and other events. It will make them feel more connected to the rest of the company.
Invest time developing a good communication culture with your remote team members using Zoom or Slack tools. For example, share organizational updates, brainstorm new ideas and discuss challenging projects via chat.
Show appreciation for your remote workers! Send virtual gifts, cards, and text messages with congrats for a job well done - it doesn’t have to be big.
Find out what they need. This is crucial to managing an effective remote team. One way to find out what your remote workers need is by making sure you have a space for them to give feedback on their experience.
Invest in training and developing them. Over 60% of employees say they consider staying longer at organizations that invest in their learning and development. This concept holds up for remote teams who want to boost their skill sets now more than ever.
Effective communication can make things simple, and it is the key. It is the common thread that will bind your employee engagement efforts with your remote workforce.
Establishing a Remote Work Policy That Fits Your Company's Values. Organizations realize that remote workers are not only productive but also more engaged with their jobs. With this in mind, it has become more critical to establish a remote work policy that fits your company's needs and values. To maintain company culture remotely, a business should clearly understand what they need from their employees and what they can offer to these employees in return for this flexibility. Remote working should not be viewed as an inconvenience or burden on the company; instead it should be another way for businesses to show value and appreciation for their workforce members' contributions. This is the only way to upgrade your company culture truly and not just ‘make it work.’
Frequently Asked Questions
How does remote work affect company culture?
The collaborative culture which is nurtured in an office environment - the exchange of ideas, the socialization between colleagues, and the opportunity to work closely with others are all lost when working remotely.
How can companies maintain company culture when working remotely?
A company will need to create a list of guidelines for remote workers because it is inevitable that there will be time differences and issues with communication. The company's core values should also be shared with remote workers to ensure that the culture stays intact.
What are the drawbacks of remote work culture?
The main drawback is that people might feel disconnected from the workplace. In addition, they might feel like they are not a part of the team, which can lead to misunderstandings.
Additionally, there are no in-person office interactions, which means no socializing or opportunities.