HOW TO CULTIVATE CULTURE IN A REMOTE WORKPLACE
ConnectPoint Search Group
When the pandemic hit, most companies did not expect that our “14 days to flatten the curve” would extend through the coming year or be accompanied by lasting changes to how and where business is conducted. Now, over a year later, it has become clear that many of these changes are here to stay – at least for the foreseeable future. With the sudden shift to remote work atop the list, the struggle with how to cultivate company culture in a remote workplace remains a constant concern for many leaders. However, this past year has turned professionals onto the benefits of working remotely, and, whether full-time or in a hybrid model, many businesses are embracing the fact that remote work is now a part of the new norm.
Cultivating Culture in a Remote Workplace
Whether working remotely or in a hybrid model, company culture plays a tremendous role in motivating, engaging, and retaining talented employees. When it comes to reimagining company culture for a workplace where activities enacted in an office are inaccessible and teams have little or no in-person interaction with each other and their leaders, working remotely can feel isolating. However, highly engaged teams are significantly more efficient than those disengaged, so it is vital to continue to row, rest, and rely as a remote team and focus on cultivating culture. While remote work can present challenges, it does not have to dilute a company’s culture. The following tips offer guidance for leaders on how to cultivate company culture in a remote workplace and boost employee engagement:
1 | Prioritize Communication
When working together in an office, the buzz of new developments spreads quickly, and keeping everyone in the loop on pressing matters and exciting updates can feel effortless. However, when working remotely, leaders must be intentional and prioritize communication with their teams. Implement these best practices for communication to help cultivate company culture in your remote workplace:
- Clearly communicate updates to your team in a timely manner and let the news come directly from you. Hearing things through the grapevine (or being the last to know) leaves room for confusion, misinterpretation, error, and negative feelings of being left out. Transparency and inclusion are key.
- Communication is a two-way street. Set clear expectations of the communication that your team should provide to you and how.
- Engage your team in conversations and invite them to participate in the process of decision-making for business-centric topics that affect them.
2 | Intentionally Connect
How would you rate the current engagement of your remote team? Working remotely can feel isolating so it is imperative for a leader to be intentional about connecting with their team and provide ways to keep their team connected. When employees start to feel disconnected from their leaders and their teammates, it causes division and the risk of disengagement increases. Despite the changes that remote work brings, there are countless opportunities to foster engagement and cultivate culture in a remote workplace.
When working remotely, leaders do not have the visual cue of seeing someone in the office to remind them to take a moment to connect. Therefore, it is imperative for leaders to intentionally set time aside to regularly connect one-on-one with each person on their team. Set calendar reminders and schedule the time, if needed, but do not let it go by the wayside.
In an effort to avoid these connection times becoming dreaded by the team, do not focus solely on productivity reviews; keep it light by incorporating the same chit-chat that you would engage in at the office. Connect on a personal level. If you struggle with connecting organically, try introducing getting-to-know-you ice breakers or incorporate prompts, like the following:
“The best of me comes out when…”
“The worst of me comes out when…”
“You can count on me to…”
“What I need from you is…”
Employees who feel connected and engaged are more inclined to be dedicated and increase longevity with a company. Even though working remotely prevents teams from being together in a physical workplace, teams can remain connected virtually; dedicating time to connect as a team is a great way to battle feeling isolated or stagnant and increase engagement. Find ways to spark conversation and engage connection amongst your team and ensure to make it fun!
One thing that has kept the CPSG team connected while working remotely this past year is laughing together; laughter truly is “the best medicine” and is an instant vacation from all the turmoil in the world these days. “Zoom Fatigue” is oh-so-real so we make it a point to regularly come together to just connect, chat, and laugh together. Mimic in-office time as much as possible. We enjoy playing virtual games and talking about everyday life, making it a point to find humor along the way. For more insight on how the CPSG team remains connected virtually, check out this interview with the CPSG President, Traci Cetraro.
How does your team enjoy virtually connecting? Cultivate culture and boost engagement through virtual team building; check out these virtual games for a few suggestions on how to get the laughter going!
Here are few helpful reminders when planning time to connect with your team:
- The purpose is unity and building connections, so it is best to avoid dividing topics and activities.
- Ensure everyone feels included. Be mindful to schedule team connection time for when everyone can participate.
- People thrive through different types of engagement; while some may love one method, others may dread it. Mix it up!
- Laughter will keep your team connected, even when you are apart. Make it fun!
*Consider this: what opportunities do you have to engage with your team and ensure that each person is thriving?
3 | Emphasize Value
When your employees feel valued, engagement increases. One of the simplest ways to cultivate culture is to ensure that everyone on your team feels valued. Additionally, each person on your team should be confident of their purpose and believe they are cared for.
Celebrate every success, big and small. Your team is working hard together to achieve great things; be mindful to say “thank you” and celebrate the wins. In between celebrating successes, offer ongoing motivation and encouragement. Also, honor the everyday victories; build connection amongst your team by encouraging the sharing of photos, stories, and activities of “life behind the scenes.”
Keep your team engaged and remind them that their work matters. Recognize the efforts of everyone on your team, regardless of their role. Remember, “teamwork makes the dream work,” and all roles play an integral part on your team.
T-E-A-M: Together Everyone Achieves More
Encourage self-care and provide time for it. Self-care helps to prevent burnout, reduce stress, boost contentment and productivity, amp up energy and engagement in work, minimize errors, and increase creativity. The past year has been draining, to say the least, and it is important to take time to refresh. While there is much that is not within our control, we can do things that will enable us to be more productive and avoid burnout, such as setting guidelines for communication and asking for what is needed, setting stronger boundaries between working and resting, and creating healthy self-care habits.
Row, Rest, Rely
Prioritizing communication, intentionally connecting, and emphasizing value all help to prevent remote work from diluting a company’s culture. Your team is your most valuable asset… Row, rest, and rely!
“Row when you can, rest when you need, and rely on each other to not only survive, but to thrive.” – Sanford Rose Associates