How to promote culture in a remote workplace

Remote jobs can have thriving corporate cultures — it just takes some work, say remote businesses.

As corporate leaders continue to navigate their post-pandemic workplace policies, many are wondering if remote options should be part of the plan. One of their biggest concerns: whether this will affect the company culture. Luckily, some companies that have worked remotely since their inception have offered their suggestions on how to create and nurture a culture while having a distributed workforce.

“Experiment with different ideas and find the sweet spot,” said Prithwiraj Choudhury, a Harvard University professor who studies the future of work. “You need a few pilots.”

Bosses say remote work is killing the culture. These companies have a different opinion.

Companies like software development platform GitLab, social media marketing software company Buffer, and workflow automation platform Zapier were founded remotely from the start. Corel, a Canadian graphics software company, has implemented a permanent remote-first policy during the pandemic. Here’s the advice they gave to executives who want to create a stable company culture.

Businesses shouldn’t switch to remote work and expect the culture to thrive on its own. Remote executives said it takes not only approval from the company’s top executives, but also conscious effort to create a sense of connectedness and shared values ​​as employees are distributed.

So to simplify the process, develop a flair for a strategy that focuses on how the company will help workers in this new environment, remote experts say. What processes need to change when workers are spread across the country or the world? How do you ensure that all employees are up to date, connected and on an equal footing? Are there ways for workers to network and is the company doing anything to encourage or encourage this? Do additional resources need to be allocated now that there is no physical office that everyone attends?

Asking important questions beforehand can help alleviate some of the pain points that may arise later.

When workers are distributed, transparency becomes even more important, experts say.

Remote companies have said they’ve found that shared documents or internal forums work best, and that employees and managers should document all progress on projects, meeting notes, announcements, policies, and decisions. Some companies have found that making these documents or forums available to all employees helps everyone. That way, someone from another department can easily check in a project that might need an update from another team.

Make sure all employees know how and where to get all documents, they say. In this case, more is better.

“It’s about building a culture of trust,” said Danny Schreiber, senior business operations manager at Zapier. “We have a central place where we share company-wide information, and people who join later can be updated.”

Create spaces for socialization

Without an office, workers can easily go into their work cave and become isolated. But companies can do a few things to counteract this and generate energy that might resemble the office environment.

“With a little creativity and ingenuity, you can make it happen,” said Jenny Terry, Buffer’s director of business operations.

Experts suggest creating time and space for workers to have casual conversations that may not be work-related. For example, on the Slack communication service, Zapier has created channels dedicated solely to hobbies and interests. GitLab sets up group chats, lasting about 15 minutes, so employees can get to know each other, and sometimes hosts virtual activities as well. And Buffer uses the Donut integration on Slack to bring employees across departments together for 30-minute one-on-one meetings.

And while they’re remote, the three companies say they find personal contact invaluable. Therefore, they host company-wide retreats and encourage meetings. GitLab goes so far as to reimburse some travel expenses when employees want to see each other.

“It’s not just a virtual world,” said Wendy Barnes, GitLab’s chief people officer. “We bring people together… but you have to be unique and conscious.”

Use tools to support asynchronous work

Asynchronous work, or work done independently by teammates at different times, can be difficult.

“We’re in multiple time zones,” Buffer’s Terry said. “[The challenge is] How do we recognize when asynchronous communication and collaboration is okay, instead of saying, “Let’s stop and go into the same room for next steps”?

Remote businesses say the best way to handle asynchronous work is to have the most appropriate digital tools for the task and clear communication around them.

Employees need to find ways to collaborate, stay connected, and see what their colleagues are doing. Some companies say they use a mix of social messaging apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams, and Google, shared documents in the cloud, whiteboarding tools, forums, and video conferencing tools like Zoom and WebEx. But the need depends on the work. Managers should communicate which tools to use when, and employees should be educated on how to use them, experts say.

A new style of work requires a new style of management, say remote business executives and employees. For companies that have been doing this for years, managing remote workers means focusing on results rather than daily or hourly tasks.

In some cases, this can mean training managers on how to properly manage remote work. Experts say it’s no longer about sitting on seats, it’s about achieving set goals. This can mean setting up regular check-ins and over-communicating plans and expectations.

“Companies are being forced to say to people, ‘This is what I expect the outcome to look like, this is what it will look like, and this is how we’re going to measure it,'” said Christa Quarles, Corel’s chief executive officer, who chose to launch a remote -First policy after the pandemic. “It’s not like, ‘I’m going to watch what you do at your desk all day.’ ”

Consider adding more benefits

Remote businesses say people often misinterpret culture as free kombucha or ping-pong tables, which some businesses offer. Instead, it’s a lot more than that. Still, perks help — they might just look different than what workers get in the office.

How the pandemic has transformed employee benefits

Remote workers say helpful company perks include things like stipends for their tech and home office, or wellness benefits like extra mental health days off. Perks don’t create culture, but they can help by helping employees feel more connected to their company, some employees say.

Tell us what is happening at your workplace.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *