Company culture can be difficult to define. In general, a company’s culture includes how the people accomplish their work, as well as the company’s mission, values, expectations, and standards.
Companies with partially or fully remote workforces may struggle to maintain a positive, unified culture. However, a well-established culture can help increase employee engagement and productivity. A positive culture helps each team member understand his or her role in the company and how that role contributes toward a common goal.
While it can be challenging, leaders can still create a cohesive, productive culture within a dispersed team. Here are some ways to overcome some of those challenges:
1. Define Your Company’s Culture
Before you can cultivate a company culture, you must first determine what that culture is and how it is manifested in the workplace.
- Acknowledge and understand the unique challenges and benefits of a remote workforce.
- Decide what about your current culture needs to change, if anything.
- Identify your company’s greatest values and goals.
- Determine how your company will work toward those goals.
Clearly establishing your company culture will help guide your efforts in promoting it.
2. Communicate With All Employees Thoroughly
Once you have defined your company culture, it is crucial to share the same information with all employees. This communication is not a one-time action, but an ongoing process.
This does not just apply to explaining your company’s culture. Leaders of remote workforces should make communication a top priority overall. When employees do not pass in the hallways or stop by each others’ desks or offices, communication needs to be more proactive. Managers and team members should schedule regular phone calls, emails, or video calls to connect with each remote employee.
When sharing company information, do not use just one kind of information. “If the company is only sending information via one format—let’s say email—then you may be limiting your reach and end up with employees who feel disconnected,” says Ana Flor, EVP, People & Culture at ATTOM Data Solutions. “Using various channels of communication will make remote employees feel included and part of the culture.”
3. Make the Onboarding Process Remote-Friendly
Leaders should promote the company culture during the hiring process and on an employee’s first day. This helps new hires become more engaged and productive sooner. This requires the right onboarding process for remote employees.
- Get training materials, paperwork, employee handbooks, and other information to new employees quickly, even before their official start day.
- Provide new employees with the tech they need as soon as possible.
- Give remote employees more time for the onboarding process.
- Schedule regular one-on-one meetings between new hires and HR or their direct reports to go over their progress and answer questions.
- Introduce new remote employees in video calls to help integrate them into the team.
Remote employees may easily feel left out, so taking deliberate steps to include them from day one will help strengthen their engagement in the company culture.
4. Encourage Openness and Feedback
Giving and getting feedback appropriately can help guide company culture, especially in a remote workplace.
- Solicit feedback with surveys, meetings, or even an anonymous tip line. Invite feedback, rather than waiting for team members to speak up.
- As employees for feedback on both the company culture in general and how to improve the experience of working remotely.
- Conduct performance reviews with video chat, not just a phone call.
- During online meetings, acknowledge and celebrate remote employees for their professional and even personal accomplishments.
- Make sure managers are giving as much attention to remote team members as those working onsite.
Incorporating remote employee feedback can help leaders understand what is and is not working in the company culture. At the same time, asking employees for feedback can make them feel more engaged, which helps create a more positive culture.
The fully remote workplace is still a recent development. Company leaders should expect to stay flexible and experimental when it comes to establishing and promoting the desired company culture.