Company culture happens to be one of the most critical factors for consideration nowadays when a job seeker applies for a new job or decides to continue working for their existing company. Therefore, building a positive company culture is imperative. A strong work culture reflects the mission, vision, values, and goals of the company. These are the things that cannot be created overnight.
Even employers who work with remote teams should make an effort to maintain their work culture while working from home. However, creating a corporate culture that can reach every remote employee located in different parts of the world can be quite challenging. Then the question arises: how can a company maintain their culture while continuing to work from home? In this article, we will endeavour to answer this question in detail; but first, let us understand the concept of remote work culture.
Remote work culture essentially refers to a shared set of values and principles that are based on trust, motivation, discipline, and appreciation. It is the corporate philosophy that helps organizations unite the remote employees scattered across various geographical locations. It helps to instill in these virtual workers a sense of belonging that transcends all physical boundaries. It enables remote employees to create and maintain a meaningful work relationship with their leaders and colleagues, even without physical interactions.
Organizational practices for normal work culture are very different from those for remote work culture. This is because, in remote work culture, the main focus is on communication as well as collaboration. In this culture, the physical interactions between employees and the in-office camaraderie around groups are usually compensated by online conversations. These online interactions are the only way through which these virtual teams stay connected to each other and share their experiences, interests, and priorities.
More often than not, employees working from home need a stronger support system than an office goer to help them create better bonds with their co-workers. A positive remote work culture not only strengthens the commitment of the virtual employees towards their role but also provides the leaders with enhanced visibility of the contribution made by each employee towards the firm. Hence, a proactive approach toward developing a great remote work culture is essential.
Most job seekers consider strong company culture as a prerequisite for applying for a job. The Employer Branding Study conducted by the Hinge Research Institute reveals that approximately 57% of job seekers belonging to all career levels feel that the company culture is as important to them as a competitive salary. Similarly, no less than 75% of the recruiters think that a cultural fit is more important to them than a relevant work experience or a glorious work history. From these results, it is evident that only a positive work culture can create a good work environment where remote employees can work seamlessly.
Be it the HR managers, the leaders, or the management, every one of them plays a critical role in reinforcing the organization’s work culture while working from home. The remote employees can also assist in strengthening the company culture if they are given proper empowerment. That is why maintaining the company culture while continuing to work from home is crucial. Following the below-mentioned tips and tricks can help every employer maintain their corporate ethos even while working remotely:
Every employer has a set of values that act as the core guiding pillars of the organization. These values form an important part of the company culture, and the employees should strive to keep them always at the forefront of their minds. For that, they must be apprised of these values regularly. Moreover, because the employees are working from home, there is very little interaction amongst them. In such a situation, it is only the company values that can help these remote workers understand the principles on which their organization is operating and the amount of effort the employer is putting in to create a favourable environment for them to work.
Communication is one of the biggest challenges of remote work culture because when working across different locations, things can easily fall through the cracks. Fixing even a simple issue can take more time, much effort, and regular follow-ups. That is why it is very important to establish efficient communication norms, which must apply to everyone. This helps to ensure clarity, proper email etiquette, chat best practices, as well as quicker response time frames. Also, setting up a clear communication standard can save people from getting subjected to a continuous flow of messages, assist in reducing interruptions, as well as make interactions effortless.
When people are working from home, it is the responsibility of the employer to pay attention to their work-life balance as that can help reinforce the company culture of caring. Employers can endeavour to provide child care support to working parents, offer flexible leave policies to every remote worker to fulfil their individual needs, and encourage virtual social interactions to improve the work-life balance of their employees. Also, appreciating the employees by recognizing their sacrifices and hard work can further help in reinforcing their work-life balance.
The office environment forms an important part of the traditional company culture. It includes open floor plans, large office spaces, and foosball tables on one hand and water-cooler chats, long lunch breaks, and in-office parties on the other. For most remote employees, working from home means being confined to a home office, a couch, or a kitchen table. They do not get any opportunity to indulge in the water cooler chats to refresh their minds. Hence, most virtual employees find it very hard to form or foster a sense of camaraderie within the group. That is why encouraging virtual non-work activities beyond the regular work-related interactions are essential for employees working from home. Team building activities like after-hour online socializing, virtual lunches and other wellness activities can help in promoting team camaraderie and minimizing isolation.
Every employee wants to be treated with trust and respect. Doing so not only motivates them but also makes them rise to the occasion. On the other hand, over-monitoring virtual employees not only curb their motivation but also reduce their productivity. Therefore, finding the right way to deal with remote teams and make them feel included and valued is quite important. Using various tools and software available in the market is a good management practice. These applications not only help in monitoring employee progress but also facilitate effective interaction within the group. More often than not, it has been seen that when work teams, instead of micromanagement, use communication and workflow tools to remain updated on the day-to-day activities of their group members, this reinforces trust.
Several tools and software are available in the market that can help an organization build a strong remote work culture:
- DropBox, a good alternative for Google Drive, can be used to save files using cloud storage.
- Microsoft Teams tool can assist in collaborations as well as meetings.
- Trello is a great task management tool, most appropriate for remote teams.
- Confluence app allows virtual team members to collaborate virtually on various projects using templates, calendars, roadmaps, Jira integration, and more.
- Chanty is the software that can be used for team collaboration as it offers the facility of free unlimited messaging.
- ActiTime is a time tracking software that allows remote employees to record attendance, enter and fill online timesheets, as well as mark progress for time-sensitive tasks.
- Fond is one of the best platforms for rewards and recognition that can keep track of the work anniversaries, help in celebrating team victories, and create customized awards for every individual high performer.
- Another virtual team-building app is Let’s Roam that consists of various online activities that include games, puzzles, and trivia, which can keep the remote team engaged.
Developing a positive remote work culture and maintaining it even while working from home is not an easy feat. However, it is only a strong company culture that can make employees feel empowered as well as entrusted enough to accomplish their duties. Building a viable work culture is a continuous process. It requires much time, tremendous effort, and constant hard work. For an employer, who is either already sporting a remote team or planning to go remote, it is important to ensure that their HR department is well equipped to be the primary point of contact for the employees to rely upon. Organizations that focus on fostering camaraderie, promoting transparency and facilitating open communication can create an environment of trust and belonging that can help them move forward faster in the long run.