If you think your remote team is lacking culture and commitment, it’s time to see how you can fix it before things fall apart even further. Culture is inherently the heart and soul of every organization, be it an office or remote environment. Hereinbelow, we’ll look at what culture essentially is, how you can build it within your remote team and ensure everyone is on the same page with you.
What is the company culture?
Company culture is a combination of core values, ethics, mission, and expectations that are shared and understood by the whole team. It is the personality of your company that defines the environment in which your employees work and strive for excellence. There are many different types of culture, some have traditional management styles, others prefer to stand out with their laid back attitude toward management and company’s personnel. None of those seems like a panacea for all organizations, you really have to choose what works best for you and your team.
What are the differences between office and remote culture?
Culture in the office is definitely more tangible than culture in a remote team. You interact with almost all of your colleagues this way or the other and share an open-office space unencumbered by walls or cubicles, which surely brings you closer to the rest of your team. Workplaces are becoming more and more innovative and most of the companies nowadays combine both the office and remote work. Nevertheless, if some of the work is done in the office by most of the team members, it’s still easier to establish and implement company culture, rather than when the whole team is remote.
Setting up a remote work culture is far from being a walk in the park because the process certainly entails a number of challenges, difficulties, or even risks. First of all, the working spaces for remote workers will differ greatly, because everyone is pretty much free to choose the space they are most comfortable working in. The only way you can bring up your colleagues together, provided you’re not based in the same location, is by contacting them via video or audio calls. Since you cannot supervise your employees directly or communicate with them face-to-face, you have to be able to trust them with self-discipline and responsibility to perform their jobs without much supervision. However, irrespectively of those management challenges, establishing a remote culture is not impossible.
Three quick ways to build a remote culture
Tip #1 Organize off-work remote events: book clubs, discussion or debate clubs
Based on our own experience, at Soshace, we’ve decided to organize monthly book clubs to ensure we not only talk about work but something more than that. We choose a book or a short story to discuss, read it for a month, and then organize a conference call, where we share our opinions and feelings in regards to the writing. We read both non-fiction and fiction books, so no one gets tired of reading only business literature, tutorials, or self-help books. You can try organizing bi-weekly, monthly, or semi-annual meet-ups if some people from your team happens to live near your city. Otherwise, you can schedule bi-lingual discussion clubs online, where the team would learn a particular language for the fun of it. The options are numerous if you really try to come up with something special that will work for your team.
Tip #2 Send presents on major holidays as a thank you note
Again, in our practice, appreciation of all members of your team is crucial for developing mutual understanding and trust. Find out the national holidays for each member of your team; trust us, that’s not difficult if you have a small business, and even if your company grows bigger than that, you can delegate that work to your HR stuff and they will take care of it for you. Your presents don’t have to be expensive, because gifts are not about money, but acknowledging that you care for your employees. You can send flowers on Mother’s Day, postcards, schedule a surprise call, make a video, or anything else that your creative mind will come up with.
Tip #3 Establish clear KPIs, certifications, regular exams, and lessons.
In order for all members of your team to be on the same page, they need to have clear instructions for the work they are doing, as well as tangible KPIs that each of them understands. KPIs need to be clear, comprehensible, transparent, and fair. Also, teaching and mentoring your staff is important: develop regular exams or pay for employees’ certifications, so your employees know that in your company they can learn, develop new skills, advance in their careers. Establish a dedicated lesson practice. For example, if you’re a web development company, you’ll need to have an in-house remote teacher who will explain the web development basics to, say, your new sales managers, who may initially lack the appropriate knowledge in programming.
Nowadays, many companies recognize the benefits of working remotely. But with transitioning to remote work comes many other challenges, which can be overcome by sincere dedication and commitment to all of your remote team members. Establishing a friendly environment and strong company culture are crucially important for the success of your remote business. Try adopting practices we’ve outlined above, because for us, they have worked, they might just as well work for you.