We live in a time where technology at our fingertips has made life more easier than ever before. Not just in our personal lives, but in every field.
Arriving at desks in a large office is seemingly a thing of the past. Remote work has become the new norm and is considered as the way forward for a flexible, happier, and more productive workforce. Especially in this COVID-19 pandemic crisis, every company has been on a ‘forced remote work’ spree with their employees.
Many companies are planning to set up scalable remote infrastructure rather than just a temporary exercise. But not everything is as right as rain about Remote work either. A set of things need to be put in place as one looks to scale your remote setup. Along with the right tech tools, a more important ‘work culture’ needs to be established. But creating a remote work culture for your team that is used to a physical office environment is easier said than done.
A cultural shift that puts common assumptions like physical presence at the office is a must for productivity to the bin. The good news is that it ain’t an uncharted territory. Companies like Buffer, Automattic, Mozilla, Invision, Zapier, and Unworthy are successfully running remote teams with a strong remote work culture in place.
We at Crewscale have helped many companies in their transition to a remote setup with a developer community of over ten thousand people. Fair to say we have experienced it first hand ourselves. Dive in to know how you can establish a positive remote work culture at your firm
Create and convey the company values
Creating a set of values is essentially the foundation of a positive culture and gives direction to the work culture. Lack of values in companies (large or small) is one main reason for improper functioning at a cultural level.
Most companies have got it wrong when it comes to setting values because they are decided in a closed cabin by the top management who is better off ticking boxes for tasks lined up. Followed for a week and then forgotten. Thus, there is a strong need for companies to create values that are lasting, reliable, and have something for the employees in it, especially for remote work.
It is more advisable to keep everyone in the company involved in this process. The first level of brainstorming can always happen at the top management level and then bring it to the team levels. Then collate all the ideas generated at all levels and refine with positive feedback about the type of values to adopt. As a result, the company values created this way are more acceptable and have a holistic inclusion of everybody.
What good is a list of attractive words on a paper when not documented well and conveyed to everyone? Especially, in the remote teams. It is often difficult for members to imbibe the values when the teams are distributed across geographies.
Articulating the document of company values clearly to everyone in the company is very essential. Finally, never stop monitoring, measuring the values for a more positive culture on your remote team.
Encourage Open & Regular Communication
The mantra for any remote teams to flourish is Communication, communication and communication. Enough is spoken about this. The company culture hits a dead end without proper communication. Decide beforehand on the video conferencing tools to use for making communication easier and better. List them down, discuss and finalize before opting for the service.
Set a specific time every day for communicating with your team as per the timezone they are in. Discuss the ongoing projects, request feedback on the decisions taken during the meeting to get all on the same page. The regular informal meetings serve as a huge motivation among the team members.
Note: Always try to reduce the confusion among your distributed team and save time by conveying all new and old members about the channels used for every aspect of communication. The more clear, concise the better for the company.
It has to be acknowledged more often that remote work for employees isn’t like sitting beside their colleagues in a typical office set up. It is very difficult to know about colleagues in a remote team therefore encourage your remote employees to engage in informal discussions with other members to know each other’s traits and personality better.
Engage Employees better
Be mindful of the ‘Water Cooler effect’
In a physical office, it is easier for employees to get together at a commonplace and have a chat ranging from generic to specific topics ranging from favorite movies to food tastes. This act of getting together and discussing is the water cooler effect.
It is equally important to create virtual moments like that in the remote setup. Encourage engagement through various fun activities and channels where the team can discuss together about anything and everything.
Creating a separate Slack channel for this specific purpose of sharing fun activities, memes or running random polls among members to vote for their favorite stuff goes a long way in developing a positive culture in the remote team.
Note: Make sure there’s a line drawn for the level of humor and fun team members can exercise so that no one gets offended in the process.
Team building activities
Consider creating various activities every week that help in team bonding and increase engagement. It can be anything from watching together a movie virtually or playing online games with the entire team that keep everybody upbeat and interested.
Team trips once in a while
Arrange bi-annual tours for all your remote team members to adventurous, beautiful places where they get together and have fun. This helps to keep your team bonded well throughout the year and in anticipation of the next opportunity to meet other members.
Welcome the new recruits and recognise the efforts
In a physical office setup, it is very easy to introduce and welcome new recruits to the entire office. Similarly, this shouldn’t be brushed aside for a remote setup.
Getting on a virtual call with all other employees to introduce the new recruit makes him feel better and inclusive. Arranging informal meetings with other members in the team makes the new employee aware of his team members on a personal level and puts across your values in a far better way than an email attachment.
The more time spent on new recruits to encourage social bonding in the initial days pay rich dividends as the team grows. It provides a deeper understanding of each others’ strengths, weaknesses and responsibilities.
A monthly newsletter appreciating the employees who worked better and completed a project to the client’s satisfaction boosts the morale of the entire team and old employees in general. This contributes towards a more positive work culture in your organization and employees will brand you better wherever they go.’
Creating a more transparent work atmosphere
This is equally important or even more than the other aspects which help you build a positive work culture. A fully transparent environment in the organization can worm wonders for your remote team.
To put it simply, keeping project-related tasks, files and the schedule open and accessible for all the employees matters. No room for bias helps them to achieve their goals as a team better with constructive feedback.
Take a leaf out of the book from Buffer. The company which is fully remote is so transparent that it made their employee salaries and revenue generated accessible at a commonplace.
Measure engagement and have feedback sessions
As Peter Drucker famously quoted
If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it
It is one such management principle that holds true to every sphere of work and industry. Measurement of the activities carried out and the output obtained is very crucial for the success of the company.
You can arrange monthly, quarterly meetings to discuss the progress each team member made and output achieved. Based on their input, you can give them honest feedback, talk about the path ahead and scope of improvement from a technical as well as a personal standpoint. This charts a clear path for every employee making them aware of their role in the organization’s success. That’s a step towards a positive work culture.
The benefits of establishing a positive work culture in a remote setup are aplenty. It enables better communication with all your employees. Also, helps you retain the current employees and attract better ones across the globe in the future.
If all the above practices are implemented, it surely helps your organization to build a positive remote work culture at your company and scale it by overcoming the challenges of remote work.