While some companies used to offer working from home as a perk, it’s now become the norm for most businesses since the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, in a 2020 PwC survey of 669 CEOs, 78% agree that remote collaboration is here to stay for the long-term.
When employees continually work remotely, one of your key goals must be to maintain company culture and keep employees proactive and engaged. You can still preserve the in-office community you worked hard to build, one that promotes communication, collaboration, and employee contribution — and success! You just need to understand the factors that need emphasizing and maintenance to sustain – and even strengthen – the culture of the new work environment.
Highland went through our own exercise to understand these factors, because we saw a culture of overwork trending. These culture shifts and changes are common. While the process to overcome these shifts may seem challenging, the solution can lead to more positive outcomes… just as it did for Highland.
How to build and maintain company culture for remote workers
Here are 7 steps to help you reinforce and reignite a strong culture — empowering employees once again.
1. Conduct a company-wide audit:
A culture audit normally requires several methods to assess “why” issues are transpiring. It may include employee interviews, surveys, and overall observation. All culture audit methods require listening – carefully and with commitment – using both your eyes and ears.
Sometimes it’s too difficult to do on your own, and you may benefit from an outsider’s viewpoint. Highland’s research team focuses explicitly on shaping experiences, products, and services. We will work with you to determine the appropriate approach, evaluate results, and provide solutions you can enact.
2. Provide extra leadership support:
A remote workforce requires stronger leadership skills to improve employee engagement and productivity. Leaders need to communicate frequently and well, provide emotional and social support, and solicit input.
Train leaders on how to foster an “open door policy” remotely. Encourage them to check-in and have more direct conversations that address employee challenges and concerns. Provide guidance on how to best broach sensitive topics like alternative work models, job security, and staffing changes to make it clear to employees that you support and care for them. These communication principles are useful in general, but are more crucial when a workforce is remote.
3. Define remote work policies:
In-office policies may not seamlessly transition to remote work policies, especially when overwork and suboptimal workspaces (caring for children at home) are new challenges. Redefine work policies to enhance work-life balance and flexibility.
- Work schedule = Set clear boundaries whether it’s the 9-5 norm or total hours per week. Advising employees to set a routine can help them avoid overwork or worse – mental exhaustion and burnout.
- Workload and expectations = Ensure employees are devoting their energy and time to work that’s priority. Invite employees to say “no” or report back when overstretched and in need of support.
- Company values = Reinforce core values and how they translate differently in a remote environment. If you haven’t already, promote wellness and work well-being – both of which have a huge impact on psychological safety.
4. Invest in the right tools:
Leverage technology to make communication and collaboration across team members a breeze. This includes hardware, virtual meeting platforms like Zoom, project management software, and instant messaging applications like Slack.
One of our favorite tools is monday.com which helps teams better manage, align, and track work remotely. Highland can help you set up and launch the platform, centralizing workflows, teamwork, and tasks while eliminating sync meetings and endless email chains.
5. Ask for feedback and evolve:
Design a remote culture that embraces transparency, promotes employee feedback, and fosters ongoing change and adjustments. This is easier said than done and is a continuous process that requires time and dedication.
Highland is skilled in designing digital and in-person experiences that are proven to help employees feel empowered to complete their work – making the most out of your team culture while moving the business forward.
6. Build camaraderie and avoid isolation:
Part of traditional company cultures is the environment employees work in — whether it be open floor plans, foosball tables, or the café. There’s no watercooler at home, and in-person interactions may be limited. Be creative! Implement creative slack channels, opportunities for shoutouts, after-work happy hours, lunch break activities, and virtual team building games to preserve the fun you had in-person.
7. Trust employees:
Employees who are treated with trust and respect will likely rise to the occasion. If you’ve established good remote work policies, transparent and open communication channels, feedback loops, and tools that track day-to-day work activities, you’ll be set to bolster trust.
Maintaining and building culture while working remotely takes mindfulness, intention, and rethinking. By addressing challenges, defining new work policies, and reinforcing improved communication, your employees will feel more engaged, energized, and fulfilled in their everyday work — connecting them to one another and their personal sense of value.
Need help reigniting a positive corporate culture? Tell us your challenges and goals.