Today’s work landscape shows that, more than ever, a strong company culture is essential. Businesses with strong cultures enjoy a 4x increase in revenue growth and many jobseekers consider “the right culture” a top priority when looking for a company to work for.
Company culture is often thought to be fostered by employees coming together in team-building activities or company-wide assemblies. When colleagues spend time together and share experiences in one physical space, it’s easier to develop a sense of belonging, which is one of the major foundations of a great work culture. But with the current shift towards remote work arrangements where many teams are spread apart, building a winning culture is definitely a bigger challenge.
Here are some of the things distributed teams can do to improve company culture, even while working remotely:
- Show them the BIG picture.
Inculcating your company goals and values should start from day one. This is why it’s important, first and foremost, to have a solid vetting and onboarding process for all new hires. Streamline your hiring process to ensure that all team members are the “right fit” and actively communicate your vision to everyone every step of the way. Also, it’s important that everyone, not just the upper management, feels a sense of shared leadership – this doesn’t only promote responsibility, but it also gives everyone a chance to rise to the occasion and affirm their skills and value. Giving each one a role in a collective goal keeps everyone aligned and fosters stronger teamwork.
- Improve communication.
Communication is different in a remote work environment – mainly because it requires one to be more deliberate; it requires a bit more effort. Non-verbal cues (such as body language, eye contact, etc.) and casual encounters (like inside jokes or water-cooler talk) are almost non-existent when you’re communicating through a computer.
To combat this, remote teams need to have the right tools (find a communication channel that is intuitive and makes collaboration easier), clearly set communication expectations (have a feedback mechanism in place with timely check-ins and consistent turn-around times for responses), meet regularly (cameras on, as much as possible), and encourage an environment of sharing (leaders have to actively set an example of being open and transparent).
- Initiate company-wide “creative” fun.
Just because you’re no longer co-located doesn’t mean that team-building activities can no longer take place. You just have to be more creative in finding ways to allow everyone to participate and have fun. Some companies hold virtual happy hour, some have themed virtual meetings (costume day on Zoom is actually quite hilarious). It can also be as simple as scheduling a short time for non-work talk – ask them how their weekend went, share photos, etc. – or having virtual lunch together. Recreating the “office social life” leads to building camaraderie and stronger connections between team members.
- Prioritize health and well-being.
Isolation and loneliness are major concerns for remote teams, especially if your staff is going through an abrupt transition to the work-from-home life. From the comfort zone of being in office-based operations and the fact that humans are generally innately social, the sudden change to working alone can cause some anxiety. Another concern is the negative habits that may form – being more sedentary, adapting bad eating choices, being unable to fully unplug, among many others. Over time, these become a more serious problem because if employers want the best possible output, their employees should be in a highly functional space – mentally, physically, and emotionally.
Particularly in a remote setup where you’re not able to physically see everyone, companies should invest the team’s overall wellness. Encourage your team to take leaves – some of them might feel awkward about taking a day off, since they’re already at home most of the time. Send out anonymous surveys to “temp check” how your team is feeling and what support they need more of. Provide comprehensive health packages that include regular assessments and reimbursements to health promotions (like memberships to a gym or subscriptions for low-calorie meals). Take the time to discuss and understand your people’s challenges and work towards solutions that help them achieve more balance.
- Recognize and acknowledge.
For in-office teams, giving rewards and showing recognition is seen to boost performance and improve morale. This is equally important, if not more so, in remote teams. Just as it is valuable to inspire a shared purpose, it’s also vital to recognize and acknowledge.
One way to do this is by offering incentives – you should consider rewards that give employees a way to improve their wellbeing or develop themselves further, like spa coupons or paid learning opportunities. Another way is by sending out a “congratulations” email blast or putting up a virtual “bulletin board” to celebrate accomplishments. Positive reinforcement should be given regularly, in real-time. The ways can vary greatly among different companies, so make sure that you spend time in discovering what your team would be excited to aspire to.
At FGC+, our focus is not only on our clients but our staff as well. Our winning culture helps us attract and retain top talent and the fun work environment allows them to be the best they can be. We take pride in our culture of making work redefined and business unusual. Speak to us about setting up your own remote team!