The U.S. is currently experiencing the biggest labor restructuring in its history. In response to recent events, a lot of businesses have shifted to either a remote or a hybrid work model. And while these models have a ton of benefits, including increased productivity, decreased office expenses, and access to a larger pool of talent, they suffer from one major drawback: A gnawing sense of disconnection amongst workers.
It’s easy to feel camaraderie with fellow employees when you’re working beside them on a day to day basis. But when you’re working from different locations — or even different continents and time zones — you can start feeling like you’re on an island all by yourself. There are no spontaneous water cooler chats and you won’t serendipitously bump into your co-workers throughout the day. In a remote environment, every interaction is intentional and often planned out ahead of time.How do you ensure that your remote or hybrid employees feel like they’re part of one, cohesive team? Click To Tweet
So how do you bridge the disconnect and ensure that your employees feel like they’re part of one, cohesive team?
In this post, we share tips on how to keep and even improve company culture in a remote or hybrid model. Let’s get started.
What is Company Culture and Why is It Important?
The term “company culture” has almost become a buzz word. But what does it actually mean in realistic terms?
Here’s a simple way to define culture: It’s your company’s personality and the way your company chooses to put its mission into practice. Culture is not ping pong tables or pet-friendly workplaces. Those benefits may be a natural expression of your corporate identity, but not the definition of it. Instead, culture is how you choose to embody and express your values as an organization.
If one of your values is transparency, how does this value inform your interaction with employees and customers? Do you actively share information about your business operations? Do you encourage your employees and customers to provide feedback?
Or if one of your values is curiosity, how do you support this value within your organization? Do you hire people who are naturally curious? Do you encourage employees to think creatively when problem solving? Do you give them opportunities and resources to pursue outside interests by offering programs such as tuition reimbursement?
Company culture is not only how you express your corporate values, but also describes how your employees interact with each other.
And this is why culture is so important. Culture directly affects workplace productivity. The atmosphere that you create will impact how your employees work, how they feel about each other, and how they view their jobs. If employees feel connected to each other and to the values of the company they work for, they’ll be more engaged and effective.
It’s crucial to hire people who can fit into the culture you’ve created. Do they share the same values as your organization? Will they feel comfortable interacting with others who embody your corporate identity? People who fit will find it easier to transition into your organization and become an engaged member of it. But people who don’t fit will be miserable and likely make those around them miserable, too.
Culture matters because it directly affects your employees. And if you have a strong culture with values that resonate with your employees, they’re more likely to stick around. When surveyed, 65% of employees cited company culture as one of the top reasons they decided to stay with an organization. Culture is even more important to the Millennial generation (those born between 1981 to 1996). They prioritize culture above salary in terms of job satisfaction. And 74% of American workers are likely to leave a job if the culture declines.
But don’t let that alarm you. Your corporate identity can remain in tact even if your workforce is distributed. Let’s discuss how to maintain your culture with a remote team.
How to Create Culture in a Remote Workplace
As mentioned at the start of this article, our workplace is entering into an unprecedented time where employees are working from home more than ever before possible. This has challenged both the way that employees work within an organization and what they expect from their employers. While we’re still figuring out this new normal, it’s crucial to maintain company culture in the process.
This is especially important thanks to the Great Resignation and the abundance of jobs on the market. Workers have a ton of employment options and aren’t afraid to jump ship if they don’t like the conditions of a work environment.
Start With the Top
To create culture with your remote team, you must start with your leadership. Your leaders must embody and convey all of the things your organization values, such as fun, humility, integrity, and supportiveness. It can be difficult to know if your leadership team is conveying these values without first gathering honest feedback from your employees. Allow employees to anonymously share their opinions about your organization’s leadership so that you get the most genuine responses.
Share Your Company’s Goals
When you shift to a remote work environment, it’s important to gather your employees together virtually and re-affirm your company’s mission and values. Share your company’s short and long term goals and explain how you hope to reach them.
Do Group Events Virtually
In addition to meetings, you can also do other group activities virtually. This includes team building exercises, group games, happy hours, and team lunches. Thanks to video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts, your entire team can meet together in one virtual space and build stronger emotional bonds with each other.
Survey Your Employees
Find out what your employees think about your organization and their day to day responsibilities, especially now that you’ve shifted into a remote or hybrid work model. It’s important to gauge employee sentiment because it can help you identify what parts of your culture need to be improved.
Ask employees to describe your company culture in three words. Ideally, these words will align with your company’s overall vision. But if they aren’t a match, the words will give you insight into how employees view your organization. You can either build from this foundation or you can use this as an opportunity to re-introduce and reinforce the culture that you want to create in your workplace.
Make Room for Weekly Meetings
Meetings get a bad rap, but meetings aren’t really that bad. The only “bad” meetings are ones that are irrelevant time-wasters. No one wants to sit around and listen to topics and projects that don’t pertain to their job in any way. But if you introduce weekly one-on-one meetings with each employee, your meetings will instantly become more relevant and engaging. And these meetings, especially when conducted through video and face to face, also help to foster a sense of connection.
Use Tools that Support Your Values
Do you view communication as a core value? Use tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, and Slack to stay in contact with each other throughout the day. Is collaboration important to you? There are tools for remote team collaboration, too, such as Trello, Asana, and Google Workplace. And if you’d like to support employee wellness and mental health, you can introduces apps like Calm for Business, Remente, and Talkspace.
If your hybrid team continues to work with customers in person, you need tools that can help your team function deliver the same quality customer service as they did before. Tools like Salesforce, LiveChat, and The Receptionist for iPad can help you stay connected with your customers without missing a beat.
Culture creation is an ongoing process that will need to be tweaked as you see what works and what doesn’t work.
And maintaining your company culture in a remote or hybrid environment may take extra work, but it’s beneficial for both you and your employees. Your organization will be rewarded with more engaged employees who are also more productive and more likely to stick around.
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