How to Nurture Your Company’s Culture in a Remote Work Environment
According to a Glassdoor report, 55 percent of employees prioritize company culture over salary.
Company culture is important because it affects how your customers and employees perceive your organization, which directly determines the success of your business. Since remote employees are already physically distanced, it can be a big challenge to build and foster company culture. But the need for nurturing workplace culture is even greater due to the absence of in-person interactions.
When a company imbibes its culture and core values in all of its processes, it improves employee satisfaction, enriches overall wellbeing of the workforce, and retains top talent.
With the pandemic forcing the majority of the workforce to work from home, having a remote working process in place to build and nurture company culture in the remote work environment has become more important than ever.
Things to take into consideration when building and nurture company culture in a remote work setup
Company culture isn’t a place you can reach, it is a mindset. Moreover, building a remote work culture is starkly different than creating a workplace culture for employees that work from the same office.
Here are the main things that you should take into consideration.
1. Share your company values with everyone
The values of a company form a big part of its culture. They are the main pillars of an organization that guide everyone towards long term goals. Your company values can give remote employees a clear idea about how the organization operates and creates a positive work environment for everyone.
How to accomplish it: Add your main values to the company website and even ask value-centric interview questions during the hiring process. You can also offer employees weekly updates about how company values are integrated in everyday workflow.
Everything starts at the top, which is why it’s important for company leaders to follow core company values and show up with interest, curiosity and humility. Leaders should encourage employees to offer constructive feedback instead of blatant blaming and learn from their mistakes to perform better.
Also, settle on a clear and concise way of describing the company goals and mission, communicating with teams, managing work, and continuing to reinforce it everyday.
2. Increase onboarding time
When you onboard a new employee, it’s important to ensure they have all the resources they need to be successful in their role and understand the company culture clearly. Because of physical distance and possible time zone difference, full time remote workers can take even longer to onboard. But it’s always best to increase your estimated onboarding time instead of forcing new employees to start working on their own before they are even ready.
How to accomplish it: Develop a clear onboarding plan and set all the required meetings for new employees to get introduced to all the right people, projects, and processes. You can also give new hires small tasks or projects at first and introduce them to their colleagues to make sure they have all the guidance they need.
It is not only a great way to minimize redundancies during the onboarding process, but also helps create a sense of community and belonging among new employees.
3. Clearly define how employees should work together
Every organization has a different idea about what remote work entails. Some companies ask employees to work dedicatedly for a fixed number of hours everyday. Others are more flexible and follow a deadline-based approach where employees are expected to accomplish their weekly and daily tasks without worrying about how many hours they put in daily.
Depending on the type of remote work in your organization, you should set clear guidelines for collaboration and communication among employees.
How to accomplish it: Write and share optimum remote work communication and collaboration guidelines which include details about best practices in chat, email etiquette and response time-frames. You should include information about the best way to talk to colleagues, the best time to approach other employees, and the main tools that the company uses for different types of communication.
Best practices to nurture the company culture
Build close team connections to avoid isolation
Remote employees work from their homes and there is no chance for them to connect with their colleagues on a more personal level which can make it challenging for them to work together and build a camaraderie. It can also lead to employees feeling isolated from the rest of their team.
Here are a few things you can do to build close team connections:
Create fun communication channels for employees to bond over their mutual interests like cooking, movies, or fitness
Organize virtual team building sessions on video chats
Encourage employees to connect and have non-work related conversations
Make face to face meetings a routine and a priority
There is no replacement to talking to colleagues face to face, even if it is through a screen. It helps nurture company culture and makes employees feel connected. It also helps establish trust and makes people feel like they are part of the team.
Designate time for managers to conduct regular 1:1 meetings with team members to catch up and learn more about their issues or challenges
If possible, make video meetings mandatory for everyone to reinforce values and face to face interactions.
Organize company-wide initiatives
Coordinate and organize company-wide initiatives to help promote your company culture and share all the steps the leadership is taking to help and support employees. You can have company-wide or even department specific webinars, training sessions, offsites, and retreats.
The idea is to hold routine events which can keep the company values alive by bringing people together from different departments, even if it’s virtually.
Hold webinars where the company’s leadership answers questions from employees
Start company-wide virtual contests like trivia nights or bingo with fun prizes
Bring employees together at annual retreats, once or twice a year
To create a positive company culture, understand what your employees want
If you are not experienced in running a fully remote organization, chances are you won’t get it right the first time. That is why it’s important to get feedback from employees about current company culture initiatives to understand what works and what doesn’t. Regularly ask for feedback, reflect on all your efforts, and make adjustments as needed to create a strong and consistent online company culture.
Susan is the Associate HR Director at Kissflow. Susan has close to 10 years of qualitative and enriching experience in HR. She has led the entire gamut of operations including talent acquisition, retention and company culture management; has been deeply involved in elevating processes to strengthen capabilities and ensure to meet current and future business needs.
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