The shift to remote work has hit workplace culture on its blind side. Without face-to-face meetings and water cooler conversations, some companies are having trouble digitally translating their company culture. No more work anniversary parties, company outings or foosball games at work. (Hello? Anyone up for a game?)
With remote work here to stay – it’s estimated that 25% of all professional jobs in North America will be remote by the end of 2022 – organizations are beginning to see that they quickly need to adapt. But how can businesses create a corporate culture without ever seeing their employees in person?
We’re pulling back the curtain and revealing the #1 secret to creating a successful remote work culture. Check out our top tips on why work culture is important, benefits of a solid culture and how to build a strong culture with a remote team.
What is Remote Work Culture?
It isn’t something that we think about. When done right, being part of a culture feels natural and gives a sense of belonging. (For example, liking Jay-Z situates you in hip-hop culture.) A work culture refers to a company’s values, goals, and mission that define the organization.
Remote work culture is an unconditional feeling of connection co-workers experience when they’re bonded by similar priorities, interests, and attitudes.
A great work culture doesn’t just happen overnight. It takes time to acknowledge and thoughtfully build one. If you haven’t been paying attention to your company’s culture, chances are it isn’t where it needs to be. With remote work on the rise, it’s time to consider creating a remote work culture and introduce the best practices to implement it.
The Importance Of Work Culture
Company culture can make or break a job experience. One study found that 78% of executives said that culture is among the top five things that make their company valuable. Being part of a work “culture” is about being part of more than just the end product. Employees want to feel that their work is valuable and that they’re part of a larger company mission.
The overall feeling of the workplace – workplace attitudes, beliefs and acceptable behaviors – create an atmosphere in your business that can make employees run away or stay for years. (Good workplace vibes, please!) For example, a company that makes an effort to be more inclusive can make employees with diverse characteristics feel more comfortable in the workplace – and more willing to stay.
The best leaders don’t just focus on the work itself. They put in the effort to build strong workplace cultures, regardless of location.
So don’t let culture efforts take a back seat. While event planning and social hours are great bonuses, true work culture encompasses the environment through leadership, values, policies, and goals. Creating a positive work culture will:
- Increase productivity
- Make your employees feel more included and willing to share ideas
- Boost employee retention
- Encourage employees to be happier
- Inspire employees to work hard to grow the company
- Drive your business’ success
The #1 Secret to a Motivating Remote Work Culture
So, what’s the main secret to a successful remote work culture? The answer is trust. In a remote work environment, you have to trust your people, because it’s simply impossible to oversee everything from afar. But that trust goes both ways.
Employers need to trust their employees will get the work done without constant supervision. Many managers are used to a traditional-style of management. They watch sales goals and like to see employees actively working at their desk. Without the ability to see employees’ daily “desk time,” it’s easy to perceive that employees are doing less work. (We completely understand, desk-hovering managers.) But, studies show that remote work productivity was stable or increased when working remotely from home. It’s ok to take a mental leap of faith in your employees.
But there’s more to building employee trust than just expecting productivity. Business owners and managers can build trust by showing that they value their employees’ ideas, foster skill development, and praise employees for a job well done. Supporting your employees creates a remote work culture that primes your company for future success.
Showing trust and appreciation for your team creates mutual respect in the workplace. Employees will trust the company and its leaders – resulting in increased motivation and productivity. Workers are more likely to enjoy work when their needs and values are consistent with their employers. And that’s why trust is the secret ingredient to a motivating remote work culture.
How To Build A Strong Culture With A Remote Team
Ok, so how do companies create a better work culture that’s built on trust? Too often, company culture is linked to ping pong tables, casual Fridays, group outings, and other in-person activities. But a remote team culture means that businesses need to ditch the in-office quirks that define their personality. (Sorry, ping pong tables.) Here are just a few steps you can take to bond with your teammates virtually:
Virtual Team Building
When working remotely, it’s easy for employees to get stuck interacting with the people on their direct team. You can change that with virtual team building events! You’ll want to right-size these for your company. Virtual events can be company-wide or done in small groups made up of varying team members. Some ideas you can try are:
- Online trivia or quizzes. Find common themed trivia games to split into sign-up sheets. Popular franchises with big fan followings include Marvel, Harry Potter, The Office, Disney, and more. This allows groups to learn more about their coworkers and bond over a shared interest.
- Virtual escape room. Some escape rooms offer online hosts to walk through the game in real life as you and your peers discuss and direct them virtually, making it feel like you’re all there working together.
- Cooking or cocktail making class. When offering a form of demonstration or learning opportunity, send employees a kit in the mail for them to follow along and feel included.
- Create your own game. Let’s get creative. If you and your employees have tried every game in the book, why not make your own? Come up with a fun strategy that will engage your team and make the questions unique to them or your industry.
When offering virtual team bonding, aim to offer these within working hours. Everyone deserves a break in the workday to take the time to connect with their coworkers. If you choose to schedule an event after hours, make it optional in order to promote work-life balance.
Adapt Rituals Remotely
If your company has traditions and in-office rituals, try adapting them to be remote work culture friendly. Just because people aren’t in person, doesn’t mean celebrations have to stop. (C’mon party people, let’s keep it going!) From celebrating birthdays to work anniversaries or company milestones – hop on a video call to get together. There’s also the option to mail cards, care packages, or gift cards to celebrate your employees. Remind employees they’re important to your company goals.
Update Your Company Mission Statement
Employees want to be able to trust in a company’s mission and vision. Mission statements help employees see the meaning of their work by clearly showing how their job benefits a larger goal. Recognize that talented employees want to personally grow their skills and use them to drive a company purpose that they believe in.
Are your employees aware of your business goals and where you see your company in 5 years? If you haven’t updated your mission statement and shared your vision, now is the time to let employees know. Sharing your vision will make your employees want to go the extra mile – once they see they’re part of something big. (Dream big, employers.)
How To Keep Your Remote Team Motivated
Take the extra step to tell your team they’re appreciated and doing a good job. Your employees should view you as a coach – someone who wants to help them succeed. Here are some tips to help you focus on your employees’ output and boost your bottom line.
Offer Incentive Programs
It’s time for a hard look in the mirror. Ask yourself, does your company offer ways to recognize employees virtually? Nowadays great companies have ways for remote employees to acknowledge peers for their great work.
When hopping on a last minute task or going the extra mile to help a coworker out, employees can send shout outs or points to each other for easing the process. Third-party companies are available online to handle this for you or you can monitor this internally through an instant messaging system. Organizations consistently recognized as “great places to work” are ones that frequently recognize outstanding work.
Send Regular Updates
It’s the starting point for effective communication – make an effort to keep your team in the loop. During any company change, big or small, be sure to let your employees know. Policy changes, virtual event opportunities, bringing on new clients, and especially adding new team members, all require company-wide communication. Keeping your team informed ensures remote workers are aware of changes happening so they are never blindsided or left out of the conversation.
A great initiative would be to schedule one-on-one calls – daily, weekly or biweekly. And don’t just ask for productivity updates. (Did you see the game last night?) Regular check-ins help keep employees motivated and engaged.