More companies are using remote teams as part of their workforce, as well as giving employees the flexibility to work from home.
But remote working can cause some challenges, particularly when it comes to establishing a company culture.
Studies show that company culture impacts productivity, employee engagement, retention, and profitability. But how do you extend your company’s culture and employee experience to workers you rarely, or never, see?
Well, it’s not easy, but it is possible. Company culture isn’t about foosball tables and free bagels. It’s about how employees work and the experience they have at your company. Here are seven ways to build a strong company culture with your remote teams.
- BUILD TRUST
Trust is the foundation of any work environment, but it’s even more critical when you have remote workers. You can’t keep an eye on them all of the time or be sure that they’re doing their task at a given time.
That’s why you need a high level of trust, respect, and transparency with your teams. Your onsite team must trust that remote workers are doing their jobs, and vice versa. Trust doesn’t happen overnight. It comes from building strong work relationships and delivering consistent results.
- SET CLEAR EXPECTATIONS
It’s vital to set expectations for your remote teams, particularly for communication and productivity. It develops an established workflow and cadence for business operations.
Set expectations for how remote workers communicate (phone, email, messaging apps) and how often they should check-in with managers. It establishes accountability, but also helps your off-site team feel more connected to the organization.
- USE TOOLS FOR SEAMLESS COMMUNICATION
There are various apps and platforms to improve work collaboration among work teams. Make sure you take advantage of these tools and use the ones that fit your company and culture best.
These tools aren’t just for work tasks, but also to make remote workers feel better connected to the team. Many ideas develop from conversations among employees in the office. Make sure you include remote workers by using a platform such as Slack or P2 for conversations, comments, and questions.
You may want to implement video conferencing tools like Highfive, Skype or Google Hangouts so remote workers get face-to-face interaction as well.
- FOSTER CAMARADERIE
There is no watercooler for remote workers to bond with their co-workers. So if you want to establish relationships and trust, your company needs to foster camaraderie.
One way to do this is starting calls or video conferences with non-work talk. Make sure your managers and team members get to know each other on a personal level before they dive into business.
Some companies build camaraderie by pairing employees with common interests and setting up online channels for them to connect.
- SET UP IN-PERSON MEETINGS
Regardless of where your teams work, it’s important to meet in-person from time to time, whether it’s monthly, quarterly, or annually.
These meetings can be for business or pleasure, just make sure they’re consistent. It can be a yearly retreat, a quarterly planning meeting, or a bi-annual night out. Just get everyone out their normal environment to interact in a personal way.
- OFFER TRAINING AND DEVELOPMENT
On-site workers often have the chance to attend in-house workshops or trainings, but if remote employees aren’t offered the same opportunities, they feel isolated and underserved.
Make sure you offer all employees the same training and development opportunities. Technology makes this easy with virtual workshops and webinars. Whether you livestream trainings or offer online workshops, make continuing education accessible and flexible.
- PRIORITIZE FEEDBACK
Feedback is critical to improving employee engagement and boosting retention. In the office environment, feedback often happens organically through conversations, quick meetings, or over coffee. You have to establish a similar platform for remote workers.
Schedule regular check-ins with remote workers to discuss their work, answer questions and allow them to share any concerns.
Whether you have employees scattered throughout your city or the world, it’s important to establish a consistent and quality work experience that reflects your organization’s values. The above tips will help you shape your company’s culture beyond your headquarters.