By Sam Hill, Head of People and Culture at BizSpace
Maintaining a strong company culture is one of the greatest challenges faced by remote teams. In an office environment, the company’s goals, values and personality can be communicated effectively through huddles and group activities that involve everyone, but with your team working from home, this becomes more of a challenge.
The key is to be proactive in your approach and ensure that everyone in the business gets regular opportunities for face-to-face communication. Company culture is inherently social – if you allow team members to drift apart and go weeks without contact, the firm’s values and unique way of doing business will soon fall by the wayside.
Never underestimate the value of your company’s distinctive culture. Whilst it is easy to allow this important intangible asset to get buried under a mountain of other priorities, businesses that build and uphold a strong culture put themselves in a much better position in terms of employee retention, recruitment and overall performance.
This article provides practical tips for promoting your company’s culture across remote working teams. Some of the suggestions below focus on the psychology of maintaining a tight-knit community when working from home, whilst others address the challenges of keeping staff on the same page regarding the company’s goals and mission.
Increase face time with video call software
Video call software should be a basic requirement for all remote teams. The single most important aspect of fostering a strong company culture is a sense of community, and it’s impossible to achieve this without regular, face-to-face communication between all of the members of your organisation.
Once your software is in place, organise regular calls so that everyone keeps in touch. Every employee should have a weekly catch up with their line manager and close team members (although a quick daily huddle can help to get everyone in the right spirit). Video call updates from those at the top of the organisation should also be factored in.
Emphasise the importance of feedback
With remote teams, consistent feedback helps to ensure that everyone stays motivated. Productivity levels will soon drop off if people don’t feel that their efforts are being recognised – and this applies at every level of the business. What’s more, employees are more likely to buy into the company culture if their hard work is celebrated.
Introducing a range of quarterly awards that recognise hard work is a great place to start. On top of this, an informal system that allows employees to recognise each other’s hard work can help. Some performance management packages provide features like this as standard, so this should be relatively easy to implement.
Schedule in some time for socialising and fun activities
You may have heard about a concept called the water cooler effect. Originally derived from the field of workplace psychology, this term is used to describe the unexpected increase in productivity and innovation that occurs when workers are allowed to socialise “around the water cooler,” so to speak.
With a remote team, it’s hard to recreate the casual chats and animated debates that would usually give rise to great ideas in an office environment. You can, however, produce a virtual water cooler effect by providing employees with opportunities to socialise online. Fun activities such as a lunchtime video call quiz are a good place to start.
A sense of goodwill between management and employees is vital for any company’s culture. If your staff don’t feel like you’re being fair with them, then they definitely won’t be on board with your ideas. It’s never easy to encourage an entire team to uphold a set of shared values, but this is particularly difficult if there is preexisting discontent.
Transparency is important for maintaining good working relationships with your staff. Keep everyone updated on important news, particularly if it relates to the company’s performance. If you don’t already have one, create an easily accessible information hub that outlines your payscale, what is expected of particular roles and how to progress.
Update and communicate your company’s mission, values and goals
This last tip applies both to remote working organisations and more conventional office-based teams. You can’t expect employees to buy into your vision of the company’s culture if it hasn’t been clearly articulated. Refine your company’s mission, values and goals, then publish them in an accessible place such as your website or intranet. These should be celebrated as a team often to help increase camaraderie and morale.