Harvard Business Review published an article in 2015 with statistics surrounding workplace culture. Having a great culture is associated with lower health costs, lower turnover, and higher productivity. Right now, many organizations are wondering how they can maintain their culture when most employees are remote. RPI has many resources for you to refer to on workplace culture, but today we will focus on how you can take those culture-building practices to your remote teams.
Forbes listed “Company vision, values, norms, systems, symbols, language, assumptions, beliefs, and habits” as the main elements that contribute to a company culture, so how do we maintain this while remote?
Choose the best communication platform for your team
Bill Gates once said, “I’m a great believer that any tool that enhances communication has profound effects in terms of how people can learn from each other.” Whether it is on Slack, Google Hangouts, or a group message, your team should have easy access to each other. In our last blog post, we talked about Doist, a communications company that tried Slack, but found that it did not accommodate different time zones well. If you do not already have a convenient communication platform for your team, try a few out.
An article in Harvard Business Review explains that communication is vital while remote, and each remote team should determine its own set of “norms” or rules for communicating. For example, some teams may have regular Zoom meetings, expect that everyone has their cameras on and that everyone speaks at one point or another. Additionally, if your team all works within the same time zone, you might set boundaries for communication after work hours. For teams with members who all live in different time zones, teams may consider being more aware of each other’s boundaries between work life and personal life.
Frequent communication builds trust, so ensuring you have a reliable communication platform will help employees maintain and develop company culture.
Lean into recognition
Recognition is more important than ever now that employees are isolated. In a normal office setting, you have a variety of recognition methods ranging from a quick “thank you” to a planned recognition event for an employee or team. It is important to keep this structure in a virtual setting and consistently remind employees that they are appreciated. In a recent blog post, we discussed how you can recognize employees virtually, so feel free to learn more about specific practices here.
TLNT Talent Management and HR shows that there are new opportunities for recognition as well. Show your employees how much you appreciate their hard work by hosting a yoga or meditation session to help everyone slow down and unwind. You could also make a donation to a charity in their name. Anything that shows that you are tuned into their feelings and needs will be a great way to recognize them.
Focus on being social
Casual chitchat during the workday is a crucial piece of an organization’s culture. Getting to know your coworkers beyond their work helps build trust and community. We do not get to have the normal “water cooler” chat we usually get in the office. This is a hard void to fill when we are all remote.
Because the casual chitchat cannot come about organically while we work remotely, schedule time for it. Writing for The Atlantic, Joe Pinsker explains that it might be awkward to schedule time for casual talk, but it is important for your mental health to be able to socialize. For example, schedule a 30-minute break in the morning when your team can hop on Zoom and drink coffee together, or have a virtual happy hour later in the day. Fostering that social connection is key to a healthy workplace culture.
According to research reported by the Harvard Business Review, "Virtual teammates are 2.5 times more likely to perceive mistrust, incompetence, broken commitments and bad decision making with distant colleagues than those who are co-located. Worse, they report taking five to 10 times longer to address their concerns.” It is much easier to misinterpret texts, emails and even phone calls than it is in person. Since many are not in person, it is important to be cognizant of how things may be misunderstood. Consider re-reading your messages before sending to prevent any potential misinterpretation.
Further, while we are apart physically, many are getting to see their coworkers in a more personal way by getting an up-close look of their home lives—seeing their homes, children and pets. It is important to think about what they may be dealing with. While you might have a quiet home, some employees will be watching after their children or needing to run out to take care of a parent. Showing understanding for their situation will help them feel supported and trusted.
Communication is key when it comes to remote work and leaning into it will help you maintain your company culture.
Learn more about RPI’s 7 Best Practice Standards.
Register for our virtual conference in September.
Become a Certified Recognition Professional.