For many years now, it’s been predicted that remote working will become the norm. And then, because of the pandemic, businesses have been forced to use remote working whether they were ready to or not.
One reason why remote working is not fully embraced by many business leaders is the fear that a workplace will not develop team-spirit and collaboration. It can be challenging enough to build a great corporate culture while working in the same building, how much harder will it be if you have to do this remotely?
At my workplace, we have a 100% remote working environment with over 100 employees from places like India, South Africa, Singapore, Australia, Ukraine, and of course the USA. And I find that we have a great work culture, which is why I enjoy my job so much.
We’re able to seamlessly manage tasks from coding our products to creating marketing content. And we also find the time to get to know each other at a personal level as much as we can.
In this post, I’d like to share why remote working can work and how you can build a positive work culture. These tips could serve as a way to shape your own remote working culture, especially since more and more businesses are going online for good.
Lead the way
I think that the most critical part of creating a positive work culture for remote teams is to lead by example. Without the leaders on the same page and actively participating in building a positive work environment, none of the other tips matter. Here’s how leaders can make a positive remote work culture:
- Participate in events and conversations taking place within your business. It’s not possible for a leader to engage in every conversational thread especially when you have a large company. But be sure to join in conversations where your participation matters. It shows that you’re listening and engaged
- Be proactive by sharing fun and/or informative content. We have a marketing channel where my partner shares his marketing experiments in the group. This helps everyone learn and also shows that we value interacting with our teams
Essentially, building a culture boils down to small and large actions carried out over time on a consistent basis. You can implicitly support a positive work culture by participating in conversations. You can also explicitly do this by creating handbooks or other documents.
When onboarding your new employees, it’s an important time where you share critical information about your company’s values and mission.
We ask our new team members to read and sign our employee handbook when they join our company. In it, we clearly state our equal employment policies as well as our stance on matters like harassment and retaliation at the workplace. Ethics, business conduct, and other information are also key sections in our handbook.
Having a document like this in black and white makes it clear what matters to your business and guides all employees towards a code of conduct that is consistent with a positive work culture.
Enable easy communication
If people can’t communicate with each other then remote working isn’t possible. At our workplace, we have people from all over the world. And the only practical way to communicate is through online tools.
You need to invest in multiple tools to support communication in different ways. Here are tools for you to consider:
- Email communication. Use this for official communication and for outreach purposes
- Project and task management tools. We use Asana just to track tasks carried out by different people in the business. This is separate from other forms of communication as this type of tool is great for checking work progress but not necessarily for discussing general information
- Chat messaging tools. The benefit of using a chat messaging platform like Slack is that you get the ease of social media-like communication but at a professional level. Our Slack platform is critical since we can get notifications and messages instantly on phones and on desktop computers. And people respond right away, including the leaders and persons in supervisory positions
- Web conferencing tools are a must-have for any remote working company. But they only work if you have regular meetings and create an agenda. Use video conferencing on a weekly basis and rely on the other tools mentioned here for spot communication
Ultimately, what matters is how you leverage these tools. We encourage the use of different tools for different reasons. And we also communicate with each other by responding to requests, questions, or general comments immediately. Be active and use the right tools to enable a collaborative culture at work.
Create channels for teams and themes
When you have a platform like Slack to work with, the way you organize your communication channels can play a major role in building a pleasant work culture.
You can create a different channel for each team or product so that people can discuss specific tasks and goals.
But what brings the whole company together are channels that involve the entire organization.
Here are some channels you can create:
- A family channel that’s meant for non-work conversations. This could be the place for posting cat pictures, sharing personal milestones, and other information that facilitates friendly conversations
- An announcement or general channel where you can hold weekly meetings or enable conversations related to work affecting the whole organization
- An employee recognition channel, where people can leave each other praise and appreciation for work well done
Aside from creating channels, you can also ask questions or lead discussions on specific themes. We have a weekly thread where we ask questions about things like favorite foods, travel spots, and other topics that automatically lead to fun conversations.
With all the tips given here, it’s possible to build a remote culture that lively and dynamic. But in the end, your most important strategy is to be an active participant. As a leader, your role is important. So, listen to people and step in where it’s needed. And support a positive work culture with the right tools and guidelines.
It’s through setting examples and reinforcement that you create a great remote work culture that’s sustainable in the long run.