A Guide to Building a Positive Remote Work Culture
Culture has always been an important part of the workplace. Today, there is an added layer to that: remote work culture. While remote work was around long before the COVID-19 pandemic, it became much more popular since. Organizations that previously had no remote option were forced to create one, and employees in many cases demanded that the remote option stick around.
In today’s modern workplace, remote work is a part of life. But with employees working from home – whether it’s only temporarily or on a permanent basis – it can be harder to form that all-important culture that used to be taken for granted.
If your team is struggling to build and maintain a positive remote work culture, you’re in luck. Workway is here to break it all down. Let’s discuss what remote work culture is, why It’s important, and what challenges you may face when trying to foster it. Then, we’ll learn about some tips for building a positive remote work culture and how to hire in a way that supports it.
What is Remote Work Culture and Why is it Important?
First, let’s define remote work culture. Remote work culture is an extension of a company’s overall organizational culture: the set of shared norms and values that all employees – as well as leadership and management – follow.
If your company has a set of core values, this forms the foundation of your culture. Additionally, culture comes through in policies – the rules and regulations your employees are expected to follow. Things like team-building activities and off-site happy hours, for example, also play a big role in a company’s culture.
Why is remote work culture so important? First and foremost, it’s important for the same reason that organizational culture at large is important. It makes your company more cohesive, and it improves nearly every aspect of your business, from communication to sales to your bottom line. Plus, when a company boasts a strong and positive culture, existing employees remain happy, which reduces turnover. And a great culture attracts prospective candidates from outside the organization to help you source and hire even more great people.
Remote work culture is also important because employees aren’t together physically. Every aspect of culture can be harder to achieve when everyone is spread apart geographically. But if you can pull it off, a strong remote work culture can be a very powerful thing.
Challenges of Creating a Strong Remote Culture
It might seem that, after two years or more of a pandemic and remote work becoming the new normal, companies would be well-versed in making remote work go smoothly. But this isn’t always the case. The truth is that there are a variety of challenges inherent within remote work and therefore creating a strong, positive remote work culture.
Some of the most common challenges involved with building a strong remote culture include:
· Isolation: Remote work means employees will be, well… remote. For some, that can mean they feel isolated and alone. While some employees enjoy remote work, others don’t take to it so well. And that can reduce camaraderie.
· Work-Life Balance: Some managers make the mistake of thinking that employees will slack off or fail to meet deadlines when they’re not being supervised on-site. The evidence shows that the opposite is true. Without the boundaries set by in-office work, many remote employees work longer hours and experience a worse work-life balance than they would otherwise.
· Lack of Communication: Since employees can’t exactly walk to each other’s desks to ask questions or collaborate, another challenge plaguing remote work culture is the lack of communication. It’s easy for things to get missed or lost in the shuffle when employees aren’t physically working together.
· Onboarding: For some remote employees, especially those who are observational learners, onboarding in a remote setting can be challenging. The same goes for team leads or managers who are doing the onboarding after hiring remote workers. Without the in-person connection, acclimating new employees to a company can be difficult.
Tips for Building a Positive Remote Work Culture
We’ve learned about what remote work culture is, why it’s important, and what challenges it presents. The question remains: How do you go about building a strong and positive remote work culture at your organization?
Develop a Strong Virtual Onboarding Strategy
Remember that onboarding is one of the leading challenges when your company goes remote. You need to create an effective virtual onboarding program. Be sure to provide new employees with everything they need – documentation, IT setup, employee handbook, training programs, guides, etc. – and remain in close contact with new hires to make sure they aren’t left to orient themselves.
Communicate Often with Remote Employees
You don’t want remote employees to be left out to dry, wondering what they should be doing next, simply because they aren’t hearing from their superiors or team members. Be sure to stay in close contact with remote employees via workplace messaging platforms like Slack or video call services like Skype. This helps avoid any team members feeling isolated or like they’re not part of the team – this, in turn, improves collaboration, camaraderie, and cohesion on the whole.
Offer Flexible Work Hours
Data from the American Sociological Association shows that employees with flexible hours and schedules feel more supported by leadership, have more job satisfaction, and are less likely to experience burnout. Remember that one of the major perks of remote work is the flexibility it offers employees. They have the ability to run an errand in the middle of the day if they need to, or pick their kids up from school. Imposing restrictions on these kinds of things is counterintuitive and counterproductive – and it can have a negative effect on morale and your remote culture at large.
Create Connections Between Remote Team Members
Team building shouldn’t go out the window just because your company moves to a remote structure. On the contrary, it’s more important than ever. Connecting remote employees to one another in a virtual setting is just as important as management remaining in contact with their remote employees. And while you can set up in-person meetups if you so choose, even doing a few simple things virtually goes along way. Consider creating a watercooler chat thread, Slack channels for different interests, a virtual book club, or online workout sessions to help employees bond.
How to Hire Strong Remote Employees
Creating a positive remote work culture is, at its core, about people. And it’s not just the people you already have working on your team. It’s the people you will be bringing on in the future.
Hiring strong remote employees is a great way to ensure your company’s remote work culture stays in great shape. Here’s how to do it:
Just as you would for employees who would be working on-site, you want to check references carefully when hiring remote employees. Talk to their references and ask pointed questions to get an idea of the character and personality of the candidate. Make sure they can back up the skills listed on their resume – you might even consider administering skills tests to evaluate a candidate’s abilities since you won’t be able to see them in person.
Consider the Time Zone Difference
Remember that with remote hiring comes different time zones. It’s one of the benefits of remote work; you can hire a candidate who lives on the other side of the country, as long as they have the skills and experience you’re looking for. But just keep the time difference in mind – allow each remote employee to set their own hours so those on the West Coast don’t have to start working at 5:00 a.m. when the East Coast employees start. By the same token, East Coast employees shouldn’t have to work until 8:00 p.m. to account for their West Coast counterparts’ later start.
Ask About Prior Experiences Working Remotely
Another easy tip to follow when hiring remote employees: Ask about their prior experience working remotely. Some employees won’t have any, and that’s okay. But if you’re trying to build a strong remote culture, you may want to consider adding some team members who have been around the block before when it comes to remote work.
Build a Strong Remote Culture with Workway
Are you struggling to build a strong, positive remote culture within your organization? Whether you’re fully remote or you’re trying out a hybrid system, you need the right people in the right roles to make it work. But finding remote employees who mesh with your organizational culture isn’t as easy as it sounds.
That’s why you need the help of a remote staffing agency like Workway. We offer temporary, remote, and direct-hire recruiting services for institutions across the country from our brick-and-mortar locations in California, Nevada, Arizona, Texas, and Florida. It’s our goal to find your organization remote employees who can transform and uphold your culture.