Remote work is becoming increasingly common and with it comes the challenge of creating a company culture that keeps all its team members motivated and productive, particularly remote employees. Companies that fail at keeping top remote talent or seeing the value of remote employees often do so because they haven’t altered their organization to accommodate their remote workers. Companies that are successful at creating a remote friendly culture tweak traditional approaches to communication, hiring, and team interactions.
Make working remotely a priority
Remote culture should be priority when adding it to a company’s culture. Managers of remote teams or teams with both remote and in-office employees should give remote employees as much access as possible to avoid making remote employees from feeling distant. One way to do that is by treating remote employees like in-office employees and in-office employees as remote employees. Managers should respond quickly to remote employees while in-office employees set up appointments. They should have great written communication skills to compile information for remote employees to consume on their own time and to help foster relationships between the remote and in-office employees.
Designing offices to mirror the ambiance remote employees are accustomed to creates a similar work environment with the same benefits for both its in-office and remote employees. Traditional offices with remote staff members can alienate their remote workers by holding impromptu meetings in offices without video call capabilities and posting information on bulletin boards or whiteboards. This can leave remote employees feeling left out and unhappy with their position which can affect their work. Daily, prerecorded conference calls are one way to create inclusivity for remote workers.
Remote and co-location employees communicate differently. For a company that has both remote and in-office employees, communication must be adjusted so that remote employees feel they have access to the same information as their in-office coworkers. Using cloud-based, team collaboration tools and services for both in-office and remote employees ensures that information is being captured and shared with all members of a team. Text chat tools can be used to encourage casual chit-chat among all employees similar to the interactions in-office employees participate in around the water cooler or in break rooms.
Whichever tools chosen should reflect the company’s culture. A company’s day-to-day toolset will help create a remote company culture through shared experiences and collaboration like a co-located office creates through in-person interactions. It is also important that these tools help keep remote team members up to date. Video conferencing tools, chat apps, and comment sections in project management tools keep remote team members connected.
Hire people who already fit within the company culture
Establishing a great remote company culture occurs as the team is being formed. Employers should put in time and effort to hire remote employees who embody company values. Some values and skills that companies should consider adding to their culture and to look for in potential remote employees are time management, positive attitude, and reliability just to name a few. When a candidate’s values are aligned with the company’s, it builds a stronger team. It also lessens the difficulty managers face when building and maintaining remote teams or teams with a mix of in-office and remote employees.
Longer hiring processes give both the employer and the candidate time to carefully consider if they fit within the company. It also provides them with the opportunity to get to know members of the team. Longer processes also reduce unconscious bias as they are more thorough and involve more people. Some companies use trial projects to measure a candidate’s fit for a position. This shows the employer what the candidate can do remotely. The candidate receives feedback and experiences what it’s like working for a company remotely.
Invest in face-to-face interactions
Some companies bring their remote employees in a few times a year for team-building events and pay for their travel expenses. Monthly happy hours, fun company events, and quarterly in-person meetings help bring team members together and fight the isolation that remote employees may experience. Retreats are popular among remote companies because they give employees the chance to meet face-to-face, often for the first time, and encourage camaraderie and new ideas. These types of events are celebratory and get employees excited about meeting each other. The relationships that are built during these events add value to the company in the long term.
Face-to-face meetings and events in general strengthen the ties employees have with the company and their colleagues. They also provide context that can be lost via email, chat, or phone. Leaders and employees can have meaningful interactions. Leaders can gain valuable feedback while offering the transparency and trust needed to share and accomplish company goals.
Wrapping It All Up
The key to creating a great company culture for remote workers is by creating a company culture that prioritizes remote work instead of making exceptions for remote employees. Communication is the determining factor for success or failure for a company’s efforts to build a remote-friendly culture. The right communication tools go a long way in closing the gaps between in-office employees and remote employees. Finding the right remote employee also decreases the difficulty of building a company culture for remote workers. Finally, face-to-face interactions, while less common for remote employees, still prove to be important when designing a company culture with remote employees in mind.