Today’s workforce composition is dramatically changing and as a result, how businesses treat and implement culture initiatives need to change. Being able to adapt initiatives and build a strong culture across both office-based and remote teams will help companies reach their full-potential. The importance of workplace culture and its tangible business benefits is not new. Companies who implement this well across their organisation can see better employee work outcomes, lower turnover and as a result a more profitable business. Company culture can impact employee motivation and attitudes towards not only their work but clients and colleagues.

So there is no denying that a strong workplace culture can take businesses to the next level, however what do we do now that there is a switch to more flexible and remote working? While this structure of work makes culture harder to implement, there are key steps organisations should take to make this still a possible task.

Hiring – Get it right the first time

Bringing the right people into the right seat is key – it is ever so important to bring in already culture-fit employees. While recruitment strategies shouldn’t need to differ depending on whether you’re hiring a remote worker or an office worker, there are some key traits and attributes companies should pay particular attention to.

Your newly hired remote workers don’t have the luxury of absorbing behaviours and cues that ultimately create workplace culture like they would if they were located in an office environment.

For this reason, it is important that the prospective hire:

  • Has a proven track record of displaying desired behaviours
  • Are self-motivated
  • Are natural problem solvers

Investing in your employment brand will ensure that you are attracting quality talent as well as those that are aligned to your business. This, along with a well-structured recruitment process, can help you pick and assess key behaviours before making a final hiring decision.

Communication – Make it easy

One of the most important aspects of having a remote workforce is the ease of communicating. Identify one or two tools that are going to house all of your internal communications and embed this within your company.

Have a central communication medium.

This system is not only there to facilitate effective work conversations, but it should enable you to convert your regular “office chat” into “virtual chat”. While setting the expectation around virtual communication and etiquette is important, it is important to keep this tool as a place for your employees to collaborate, share information and build relationships. Having an easy to use and interactive system will remove the barriers to engaging staff in common office conversations.

Implement process or project software

Organisations that may have tasks, projects or processes that run across multiple employees or teams should look at process or project software. This software will enable all employees to have a live view of a project. Enabling your remote workers to have oversight and real-time information to key projects that they are involved in will help in building inclusiveness and boost collaboration.

Build a collaborative culture

Building a culture that promotes collaboration takes time but there are some quick tips any business can adopt to take active steps towards it. Employees will collaborate to solve business problems and deliver successful projects, despite their location, when they feel empowered to do so. This empowerment comes from two places; the relationships they have with their colleagues and the autonomy they have from management.

Relationships with colleagues

Organisations should encourage inter-location social bonding. The same benefits of face-to-face interactions can be achieved through remote buddying initiatives that encourage social interactions and those more common “water-cooler” conversations.

Empowerment and autonomy from management

Remote workers should also be encouraged to run and contribute to key business projects. By assigning remote workers as mentors and engaging them in the planning of key projects and goals (instead of delegating tasks), they are empowered to provide their own ideas, collaborate with their colleagues and take risks.

Meeting rhythms – Keep them regular and efficient

Having active and productive channels of communication will ensure that all team members, including those located in remote locations, feel they are an important cog in the wheel.

Meetings should be at a time that takes into consideration any different time-zones or flexibility arrangements. Ensure that your meetings are scheduled in advance to enable all parties to attend and give your meeting members time to move their schedule if needed.

Set an agenda

Your meetings should have a comprehensive agenda with clear outcomes that are communicated with the attendees ahead of time. Include your agenda in the calendar invite to give everyone adequate time to prepare and include any documents that you may refer to throughout the presentation. Remember that your remote teams also need access to your paper handouts.

Use technology (and use it well)

Utilise technology, preferably video based, to ensure that all attendees have the ability to engage and contribute to conversation. I think we have all been in a remote meeting where technology has failed… “I can hear you, but can you hear me? Hello? Let me restart my computer…”. Take an extra 5 minutes prior to your meeting to ensure that your technology is working correctly to avoid delays during the meeting and avoid wasting your remote team’s time.

Key Steps to Success

There are many advantages to having team members located remotely and these shouldn’t be counteracted by a poor company culture. Remember:

  1. Hire the right people with the right skills and induct them well (prioritise them over your office-based newbies!)
  2. Use technology to make social and work conversations easy
  3. Facilitate relationship building and autonomy to encourage a collaboration culture
  4. Create and work to meeting rhythms that are effective for everyone

Following these simple steps will ensure that when building or operating remote teams that a positive culture is felt by all employees. Employment Innovations can provide HR consultancy services to companies looking to build culture and values from scratch along with  outsourced HR partnering for ongoing support, management and recruitment needs. If you need some immediate advice or help with culture and remote teams please contact us to speak with an expert today