Thanks to modern technology and a little help from a global pandemic, a lot of us have seen a huge and sudden shift to a remote working scenario. The days of the office ‘bullpen’ look to be gone, and in my opinion will probably never return to be the same again.
Now, whilst more flexible work arrangements have a huge amount of advantages for employees, I’m sure a lot of businesses will be concerned on what will become of their company culture and the values they have tried to instil for many years.
There are companies out there that have had fully remote teams for some time now and have had lots of success. Over the next week or so, my goal is to speak to some industry leaders who have been successful in doing so and present some great insights on what has worked for them
Before I have those conversations, I have my own thoughts on what could, or should be done and I look forward to seeing how my ideas compare with some experts next week.
1. Reassess and Redefine company values.
You’ve all seen on a business “about us” company web page a list of values that they say they use as a foundation, and what they expect from their employees in order to service their customers.
You know the ones I mean right? So, these are all well and good, but now might be the time to dig deeper into what you actually mean and what you would like them to be moving forward. Include your current staff in what they think the company’s values are. Let them have an input. This will make them feel engaged with the process and realise the values spoken about are actually true and not just words written on a website. Additionally, your business might have grown significantly from when you started. Values may have changed with the more people you have introduced to the business.
2. Communicate to everyone what your culture is
Whilst it is great to end up with a list of words or values, it is also very important, even more so with a remote team to document what you hope your company culture becomes. Having a remote team means that your culture is going to be more difficult to comprehend for new team members, when there is minimal (or no) face time with the team. Therefore, this document becomes even more important. It should clearly express the company culture to everyone in your organisation, new and old, right from day one. It should be clear about expectations, how performance is measured, how you assess employees for cultural fit etc.This company culture should be constantly reassessed as you grow or change as well.In order to grow a positive company culture with a remote team, you need to continue to monitor your culture and values, and never stop.
3. Make your culture public knowledge
Another way to reinforce your culture is to have it being made accessible to the public, as well as everyone internally. By doing this you show an even greater commitment to the values you are looking to live up to as you can be made accountable by your customers and your employees.
An example of this is can be found in the LinkedIn and HubSpot culture slides (be warned there is a lot of content). They really have put a lot of thought into this which shows they have fully immersed and invested in it.
4. Onboarding new employees
On their first day make sure you make the effort to welcome new employees in front of the entire team. Just because everyone isn’t in the office all the time doesn’t mean this should be ignored. If a video call isn’t an option, the use of messenger groups/chat software or email threads can be used in order to create that team comradery. You should also encourage any new starters to meet the rest of the team individually (or as many as they feel comfortable with) in other departments or other teams, they will probably give a broader range of what the business is like.
5. Communication and engagement levels
The success of your culture with a remote workforce will depend upon purely on how well you communicate. Get this wrong, and you’ll find that your culture won’t become what you want it to be. Set aside regular times every week for a larger catch up (see my previous blog for ideas on how often may work best) Cover what the team is working on, give details on any decisions that may affect the team and reiterate that you want feedback and open communication. Having these regular meetings helps share news and encourages motivation amongst the entire team.
Again, with technology and how connected we are there is no reason why a person can’t be reached at any time (sensible times of course, not working around the clock). Even if you are outside the office you should be able to communicate instantly just in case things need to be made to happen immediately.
It is also important to measure your remote team’s employee engagement. There is some fantastic software out there these days that is brilliant at keeping larger teams connected all in one place and does so. Don’t just focus on work-related topics either; asking about general happiness and mood encourages openness and may help to alleviate any feelings of isolation and lack of communication as well.