Remote work culture arrived with a bang and is here to stay. As it is such an integral part of modern business, there is a gap between businesses that acquiesce to working from home and those who grab the bull by the horns and turn it into an advantage.
Nobody is saying running a remote team is easy. You’ve got to maintain a cohesive and productive work culture without being overbearing or too distant —quite a tricky task. However, we’ve got eight keys to guide you in the right direction whether you’re new to remote work or you’re looking for ways to refine your company’s culture around working from home.
We’ll cover effective communication techniques and how to build trust with remote workers, highlighting software and tools that will make the entire process easier. So let’s wrap up this preamble and reveal how to cultivate a strong remote work culture.
Too many companies dive into remote work culture with a vague idea that the communication will sort itself out. This approach could work, but why not turbocharge your team communication with guidelines that work for everybody?
Start off with the kind of tools you’ll use. Instant messaging tools are great for quick, informal conversations, but any key announcements should be made via email to keep more precise records. Meetings via video conferencing add a personal touch and make people feel more engaged. But if you overload your team’s schedules with meetings, you’re likely to cause a resentful working environment. Finally, conversations about specific tasks and projects should happen on the right card in your project management software. This avoids crucial information getting lost in an instant messenger chat and keeps all relevant stakeholders informed.
But it's not just about the tools. You’ll also need to establish communication guidelines and protocols. For instance, set expectations for response times, define your preferred channels for different types of communication, and encourage regular check-ins to strengthen your remote work culture.
Of course, you’re unlikely to write up a communication policy that works perfectly the first time. So keep an eye out for frustrations, roadblocks, and inefficiencies, and be prepared to change what isn’t working.
Trust and autonomy are critical parts of any organization. But when it comes to remote teams, they’re even more important. As a manager, you don’t have a physical view of your employees, so trusting them to get on with their tasks as efficiently as in-office would be isn’t always a given.
But when you change your working format, your management practices need to change too. Rather than keeping a hawk-like view of your team, which can lead to a toxic working environment, shift from focusing on hours worked to outcomes and results. Without the distractions of water-cooler conversation and office chit-chat, individuals that can bash out their daily tasks in three-quarters of the time should be allowed a shorter working day. As we’ll see later, this is a great way of keeping your team happy, reducing turnover, and maintaining consistency in your team.
Clearly, you’ll still need to track progress, and you can do that with powerful project management software. You can assign tasks with full instructions to the relevant responsible person, collaborators, and observers, communicating amongst the team through task updates and automated notifications. Once a task is finished, you’ll be notified for approval and will be able to see how long the task took. This time tracking isn’t to micromanage your team, but you can use it to spot performance issues and address them quickly as well as to better plan future tasks based on reliable measurements.
With trust among your team and the reward of increased time for high autonomy, you can enhance results and outcomes as well as your company’s culture.
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As we mentioned in the previous section, a key part of a remote manager’s job is to identify slips in performance and nip them in the bud as soon as possible. While the indicators are numerous, the solution always starts with a one-to-one meeting between you and your employee. For remote teams, these meetings take place over a video call — the most fluid, efficient way of speaking to someone when you can’t see them in person.
In these meetings, you can, professionally but sensitively, delve into the reasons behind the poor performance. These could be unclear instructions, a lack of training, motivational issues, or even external factors such as family troubles. Whatever the case, take steps to resolve issues early, keep your team happy, and get the show back on the road.
But even aside from difficult situations, a good remote work culture needs frequent conversations and support from managers to employees. Therefore, schedule regular team and individual meetings to discuss sticking points and listen to feedback. Yes, this is great for productivity, but it also helps strengthen the bonds between you and your employees, making them feel heard, valued, and part of a team.
Speaking of feeling part of a team, an essential part of any organization is a united workforce, which is a much harder target to achieve when you’re not in the same physical space. Office workers naturally get to know each other over lunch breaks, after-work events, and simply by living in the same city. Replicating that social proximity in your remote work culture is difficult but not impossible.
One of the keys to successful team-building and social interaction in a remote team is to organize regular virtual team-building activities and social events. These can range from virtual coffee breaks and happy hours to games and team challenges, many of which you can find online. The goal is to create a relaxed and informal setting where team members can get to know each other better, share their interests, and have fun.
It's also essential to celebrate team achievements and milestones. Whether it's a project completion, a team member's work anniversary, or a company-wide achievement, taking time to recognize these moments can help in strengthening your remote work culture.
When people feel connected on a social level, collaboration becomes easier, and everybody is invested in each other’s success.
In a remote work setting, team members often don’t have the opportunity to get immediate feedback and acknowledgment. Therefore, it’s essential to recognize and reward efforts and contributions publicly. A great deal of motivation can be drawn from public adulation, which helps individuals feel valued and useful in the bigger picture.
To that end, make your recognition timely, specific, and meaningful. When it is timely, you ride the wave of success and avoid your praise feeling like an afterthought. You can also make it specific by providing precise feedback on what they did well and how it contributed to the team and company goals. Finally, to make it meaningful, you can strengthen your remote work culture through performance incentives.
While announcements and likes on a company intranet give people that dopamine hit, a structured rewards system offers your team more tangible targets to work toward. Whether it's a monetary bonus, a gift card, or a personalized note of appreciation, rewards act as milestones for hard work. To take things one step further, tailor the rewards to the preferences and interests of the team members, making them even more meaningful and impactful.
Since the introduction of remote work culture, striking a healthy work-life balance has been at the forefront of discussion. When your home is your office, it’s easy to let your working hours blur into your personal time, which leads to frustration, anxiety, and burnout. But smart managers know that by taking an understanding approach to flexibility and work-life balance, they can get the best out of their staff.
As we alluded to earlier, adopting a task rather than an hour-based mindset encourages people to work efficiently to free up time in their day. You can do this either by letting people choose their own working hours or by allowing them to clock off once they’ve finished. The extra freedom can be a game-changer for parents who want to pick their kids up from school and cut out childcare costs. This pays back to the company in dividends through increased loyalty.
Similarly, you should encourage your team to feel comfortable disconnecting from work to focus on their health and well-being. Use your one-to-one discussions to convey your expectations, and introduce an online time off management system so people can request leave when they need it.
If you see negative patterns emerging, it might be time to intervene, either by restructuring workflows or, as many companies are doing, bringing in external psychological help.
Critical to the success of any team, diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) are fundamental in creating a strong remote work culture. By combining a range of perspectives, DE&I helps to enhance creativity, collaboration, and overall performance.
If you’re new to the topic, you’d be surprised to know you’re probably already applying it. For example, you wouldn’t set the same sales targets for your top seller who has been with you for ten years as you would for the new recruit who hasn’t had time to make an impact. That’s equity.
But DE&I practices can crop up in myriad ways. From fostering a culture of respect and appreciation for differences to non-biased hiring practices and diversity training schemes. Teams that are all on the same page regarding DE&I feel at liberty to express themselves, which can be a catalyst for innovative breakthroughs. Indeed many companies actively aim to fill their roles with people from all kinds of cultural and professional backgrounds. More than a badge of pride for the company to wear, it means teams can spot synergies that more homogenous teams cannot.
For our final point on cultivating a strong remote work culture, we’re turning to benefits packages and how they can boost both your employer branding and your bottom line.
For a bit of context, it’s important to remember how much remote teams can save by shifting away from hired office space. The building rent, utility bills, cleaners, and more get wiped off your balance books in an instant, freeing up a considerable sum of cash that you can redirect as you please.
What the most forward-thinking companies are attempting is to channel that budget into a generous benefits package that not only attracts the best talent from all over the world but retains them. Typical benefits for remote workers include:
Allowances so your team can set up a comfortable home office
Technology and software that helps people thrive rather than get by
Professional development opportunities to upskill your team
Health and wellness programs, such as fitness classes and mental health resources
Performance bonuses and incentives to keep productivity high
With more and more employees questioning their relationship with employers and the working world as a whole, generous benefits packages can be a real deciding factor for the profiles who can advance your business.
Bitrix24 is perfectly designed to be the hub for your remote office. With a full suite of business tools all on one platform, it provides flexibility and transparency across your entire team. By adopting these tools and strategies into your daily work, you lay the groundwork so your team can:
Manage their tasks autonomously
Stay motivated despite physical distances
Continue to improve on performance
Feel part of a team that is invested in their success
So if you’re in the process of strengthening your remote work culture, sign up for Bitrix24 today and unleash the potential of cloud-based collaboration.
The keys to cultivating a strong remote work culture include:
Some ways to improve remote work culture are to:
To create a positive work culture in a remote setting, all your technology should be hosted on the cloud. Essential tools include: