7 tips for building workplace culture when teams are remote
For almost two years, the government has encouraged employees that can work from home to do so to curb the spread of Covid-19. While the guidance has now been lifted, it’s started a workplace revolution and many businesses plan to embrace remote working in some form.
Some businesses have already announced their intention to continue with home working or offering employees a hybrid option. It’s something that thousands of business owners will need to grapple with, from international companies down to small businesses.
A survey suggests remote working opportunities could improve employee retention and help businesses access the best talent. According to a report, 78% of employees would change their job if they were offered the chance to work fully remote permanently. In most cases, this was to achieve a better work-life balance.
While remote working does have some benefits, it can make it challenging to build effective teams, collaborate, and have camaraderie. If your business or team is planning to work from home in the long term, there are things you can do to build a workplace culture that helps improve productivity and raise morale.
1. Set out what is important to your company or team
As a business or team, what values and attitudes are important to you? How do you want employees to work together?
Having a clear idea of your expectations can give you some direction as you lead the team and help you assess how successful the steps you’re taking are. Clearly communicating the culture you want to build or maintain with employees means everyone is on the same page.
2. Be transparent with your communication
Communication is always important within teams, and if you’re not face-to-face, it can create some obstacles.
Reviewing the channels your team communicate through and how briefs or other important information is delivered can help create an effective workplace culture. When working remotely, it can be easy for some things to be missed, so a focus on over-communication that is clear and transparent can help.
3. Encourage face-time meetings
Non-verbal social cues can be just as important as what you or your team is saying. An employee that is holding your gaze can show that they’re engaged with what you’re saying, while a facial expression can hint at what they think about a creative suggestion.
Working remotely means you can miss out on these cues if you don’t make use of face-time applications. Scheduling important meetings as a video call can make all the difference when communicating and collaborating.
4. Acknowledge achievements and hard work
Sometimes a quick “thank you” or a chat about how well a project is going can make all the difference to team morale. But, if you’re not seeing your team in person, these usual acknowledgements can slip your mind.
Making celebrating wins and personal achievements a regular part of your routine can let employees know that their work is appreciated and keep a team motivated. It’s a step that can create a positive workplace culture where employees are focused on achieving goals.
5. Create a space for non-work conversations
Working from home can be isolating and make it incredibly difficult to get to know your colleagues, especially if connections haven’t already been formed in person.
Creating an informal communication channel can help members of your team chat about non-work topics. It can help create better relationships within the business, which can also support collaboration and other positive attributes that can enhance the culture. Once you have a space set up, don’t forget to encourage and participate in its use too.
6. Make time for social meetings
Much like the above, setting up social gatherings can help your team get to know each other, have fun, and build connections that mean the business runs more smoothly. This may include regular in-person meet-ups, or, if that’s not an option, virtual gathering to share a drink, have a chat, or take part in games.
7. Review your appraisal and training process
The development opportunities offered to employees are an important part of workplace culture. Whether benefiting from a mentor in the workplace or training, ensuring team members can still see how they can progress within a company when working remotely can help create a positive culture.
It’s one of the challenges identified in a report from Culture Shift. 23% of workers said working remotely has negatively affected their promotion opportunities, and 25% said working from home had negatively affected their training and development. Reviewing your appraisal and development process to reflect new ways of working can help create a culture of learning.
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