7 Ideas on How to Build a Healthy and Strong Remote Work Culture
About 97% of employees state that they wish to work remotely (at least partially) for the rest of their careers. The remote work culture is here to stay, which means that HR managers and business owners are facing new challenges that require certain skills because their employees are spread across different locations and time zones.
Many remote workers say they don’t feel like part of a team. That’s a shame because, when done right, remote work can be an incredibly empowering and effective way to achieve great things.
How can you create a work culture that supports flexible and remote work without sacrificing productivity or team cohesion? Read on to find out.
Why Is a Work Culture So Important?
Do you know what the secret is between Google, Instagram, Pinterest, and all such giants? They take pride in creating a family-like environment where everyone feels welcomed and appreciated.
Google spends millions of dollars on providing a workspace that’s enjoyable for employees. From professional hairdressers to wellness centers and video game rooms, all under one roof at the Googleplex. People who work for Google feel like they’re part of something bigger, something that they share their lives with.
In today’s competitive business landscape, a company’s culture is more important than ever. By creating a positive and supportive work environment, businesses can give their employees the best chance to succeed. They allow their staff the room to grow and develop their skills and passions.
Do you feel that creating a positive work culture is just another form of employer branding? Not exactly.
Workplace culture is definitely something that every company should strive for – 94% of entrepreneurs say that a healthy culture at work is vital for success.
Being in a positive work culture is linked to higher rates of employee engagement that leads to increased productivity, creativity, and morale.
However, work culture is not something that is possible to “create” in the same way that a product or service can. Developing a positive work culture takes time and effort, but the benefits are well worth it. What are they?
A positive work culture:
#1 Shows that the company cares about its employees
It demonstrates that the business is willing to invest in the development of its staff. As they should, since an employee who feels valued and supported is more likely to exceed expectations and be more committed to the company (TeamStage).
A strong work culture can also help to attract top talent. The best employees will be looking for companies that give them the greatest opportunities – and those businesses that put employees first place do just that.
#2 Encourages employee retention
Keeping staff on is a huge challenge for businesses nowadays, with the worst consequence being that it costs money to replace people. But employee turnover also disrupts workflows, reduces productivity, and drains morale, which are all definitely nightmares for any HR manager.
“The company culture wasn’t as expected” is one of the top three reasons why people leave their jobs in the first 90 days (2022 Jobvite report). By fostering a positive atmosphere at work, you can keep your best employees and reduce staff resignations.
#3 Boosts employee productivity
Happy employees are more productive (the University of Warwick), so if you’re looking to build a successful business then don’t underestimate the importance of a strong work culture.
This unites employees around a common goal and a set of values that can provide a sense of belonging and community. It should come as no surprise, then, that sharing the same objective motivates people and gives them a great “kick” to work harder.
#4 Improves customer satisfaction
A company’s reputation depends on its employees’ commitment to their work and their company. Employees who care about their work and organization are more likely to do their best to keep it on track (Medium). That’s why a healthy workplace culture can lead to improved customer satisfaction.
Clients are more likely to do business with companies that treat their employees well. They can feel the pleasant vibes between people, attracting them and keeping them coming back. Businesses are about people, so the work culture is crucial for the way customers see a company.
#5 Stimulates creativity and innovation
A positive work culture encourages creativity and innovation by supporting risk-taking and giving staff the freedom to experiment (Harvard Business Review). Employees feel more comfortable trying new approaches when they know that their company values their ideas and input.
What Is a Remote Work Culture?
A work culture is an environment that surrounds your employees while they are doing their jobs. It’s the combination of your company’s values, traditions, and the way staff interact with one another. The work culture is crucial to overall job satisfaction.
The same applies to remote work, just with one exception – it is the one in which employees are not required to be physically present in a traditional office setting. Instead, they can work from home, a coffee shop, or any other location with an Internet connection.
Such a setup can offer a number of benefits to companies, including reduced overhead costs and access to a global pool of prospective employees. For staff, remote work can provide greater flexibility and freedom in terms of managing their time and responsibilities, making it easier to find a work-life balance.
The question is, how can a remote work culture remain effective without potential issues of being fully online?
How To Build a Healthy Remote Work Culture?
The core of healthy remote work culture is trust. Employees need to be able to rely on their managers to give them the necessary tools and resources for the job, and managers need to be able to trust employees to work without constant supervision.
Sustainable remote work culture is one that values the health and well-being of its employees as much as it values productivity. Rather than measuring the number of hours worked, managers measure results. And instead of expecting employees to be available 24/7, their time and space outside of work are respected.
The most important thing in order to build a healthy remote work culture is to set the tone from the top. As the leader of your company, it’s up to you to ensure that your values are reflected in how you manage your team.
When you work together, you can bounce ideas off of one another, help each other out when you’re stuck, and celebrate your successes together. And it’s not just about the work, it’s also about the relationships you build with your colleagues.
A remote work culture that values collaboration and connection is one that will be more successful in the long run.
So how can it be achieved?
Tip 1: Use the Right Tools
Investing in tools that streamline daily employee engagement and communication is the mark of a great employer. If you don’t have the right tools, it’s nearly impossible to manage a remote team and maintain a great culture at the same time.
Fortunately, there are endless options out there to help keep your remote business running smoothly. Some are tailored to meet specific business needs, while others apply to almost any remote team.
However, with the vast number of options available, it can be tough to know where to start. When choosing, remember to keep in mind such factors as:
- ease of use and time it takes to master the tool
- set of features
- software integrations
- price point and free trial availability
Start by surveying your team and finding out what they need and would prefer. Once you have a good idea about that, you can start narrowing down your options.
We have created a list of our favorite tools for you to get started on the right foot straight away:
#1 Slack for communication
This is one of the most popular communication tools for businesses, and for good reason. It’s extremely user-friendly and can be utilized for a variety of tasks, from messaging to file sharing. Plus, it integrates a lot of other software, making it a great choice for companies that use many different tools.
You just need to be careful not to create false urgency with Slack. And don’t forget to integrate it with Giphy to make your conversation even more engaging (or just funnier!).
#2 Asana for project management
A great choice for companies that need help with organization. Asana allows them to create and assign tasks, set deadlines, and track progress all in one place – a must when working remotely, to make communication clear for all project members.
#3 Google Drive for file sharing
A must-have for any business, remote or otherwise. Google Drive allows users to store and share files, making it an essential tool for collaboration. Plus, it’s free to use and easy to set up.
#4 Zoom for video conferencing
An occasional face-to-face meeting helps build a culture of remote work. Zoom is a great choice for companies that need to conduct webinars on a regular basis. It’s easy to use and offers a variety of features, such as screen sharing and recording.
#5 CloudTalk for customer service
This is a great choice for companies that need a VoIP solution to boost their customer experience. CloudTalk offers a variety of 70+ features including call forwarding, intelligent call routing, and call flow designing. It also integrates with popular CRMs such as Salesforce and Zendesk, meaning that companies can keep track of their customer interactions and data safely and easily. Integrations also eliminate time-consuming routine tasks. That not only makes your employees more productive, but it lets them focus on more engaging tasks as well.
#6 Kontentino for social media management
Do you need to manage social media accounts? Kontentino can help. It’s more than just a social media scheduler – you can collaborate with your team, analyze their performance, create a social media strategy, and plan ads. All of this through a remarkably interactive interface and great mobile app.
#7 Toggl Track for productivity
There can be many distractions when working from home, but this app helps remote employees manage their time effectively and avoid procrastination. Toggi Track provides a number of useful features including timers, tracking reminders, and a project dashboard.
Tip 2: Establish a Company Mission and Vision
Strong mission and vision statements are more than just nice motivators that you can hang on your office corkboard. Make them a part of your daily decision-making process by giving them context.
What’s the difference between a mission and vision?
A mission statement should be clear and concise. It should describe what your company does and why it exists, containing the core purpose of the organization.
A vision statement is a bit more flexible. It can be aspirational and describe where you see the company in the future and what is your intended impact on society at large.
Together, your mission and vision should be like a lighthouse that always shows your employees the right direction. Just be careful not to make them too specific, as your mission and vision should be adaptable to an ever-changing business environment. And of course, it should be realistic.
Why does it really matter?
Bringing your mission and vision to life by including it in your company’s DNA enables your business to succeed with a long-term, sustainable work culture. If you hire people who don’t care about your company’s mission, your remote culture may collapse very easily. At a recruitment level, you need staff who will fit in at your company.
A company’s mission and vision provide direction and purpose. They help your team make decisions about where to focus energy and resources. Being on the same page helps them stay aligned with the company’s goals.
It’s even more important for remote workers, who need the motivation to get up every day and sit in their home office.
A strong company culture based on real values cannot be built overnight, but with small steps, you can get closer to it.
Our tips for building up your mission and vision:
#1: Make sure you involve your team in crafting the company’s mission and vision. They will be more likely to buy into these values if given a say.
#2: Keep your mission and vision front and center. Post them in a place where everyone can see, such as the company website or Slack channel.
#3: Make these statements a living document. Review and revise your mission and vision regularly so that they always reflect the company’s goals.
Tip 3: Write It All Down in a Company Handbook
A healthy remote work culture can’t be built without a detailed and well-written company handbook. Although this is not a legal requirement, it actually aids in bridging the communication gap between a company and its employees.
Company handbooks are essential communication tools for remote companies who want their teams to comply with the vision and other processes. It’s a great way to give people a glimpse into your company culture and make them want to be a part of it. When employees know about a company’s history, past accomplishments, and mission statement, they can feel a sense of pride and involvement.
A thorough company handbook will also help you attract and retain the best talent by showing that you’re a professional, well-organized company. New hires should be able to easily access this information so they can feel at home right from the get-go.
What are the main elements of a handbook?
- mission and vision statements
- employee benefits
- company events
- remote work policy
- health and safety policy
Now a more important question may arise, which is how to create a company handbook?
Here are a few suggestions:
#1 Keep it concise and straightforward – write it in a clear and engaging way. Keep it short and succinct with bullet points, as well as simply enjoyable to read.
#2 Use images where possible – include photos, graphics, and any other forms of visual representation to make the material more appealing. Adding videos and links can make your company handbook even more interactive.
#3 Get everyone’s input – ask your employees, managers, and other people in leadership positions for their suggestions. After all, they are the ones who will be using it on a daily basis.
#4 Make it easily accessible and update it regularly – put the handbook on your company’s internal network or website, and make adjustments whenever needed.
There are even tools available that can help you with creating a fully interactive, engaging online company handbook. Take a look at Blissbook or the more popular Canva, which are both 100% customizable.
Tip 4: Establish Clear Expectations for Each Role
If you spend all of your time and energy creating a company culture, you may lose sight of the fact that everyone has a specific role to play. You mustn’t forget that a team consists of individuals with different characters and needs, which means you need to find the balance between them and the rest of the organization.
Maintaining a remote culture is not only about making sure that everyone is on the same page, but also about setting expectations for each member of the team.
One-to-one meetings are a perfect way to do this. They help build trust and rapport, plus they allow you to get to know your team members better. Besides discussing expectations, you can use such meetings to set goals, provide feedback, or just make small talk.
So, how can you run things in order to not forget about individuals?
Let’s look at an example of a company where remote culture works effectively – Close.
Please note that this will not be applicable to every business, as it depends on many factors like the specific requirements and needs of their remote communication.
Every Monday, each team leader sends out a report that includes the week’s goals. Usually, they are shared via Google Docs, and every team member makes notes or questions, etc., to be prepared for the meeting.
During the company’s Tuesday morning video meeting, everyone discusses the tasks they need to accomplish so that everyone knows one another’s roles. The next important stage is to have cross-functional one-to-one sessions in pairs for 15-minute calls with each team member to get to know one another better.
It’s worth noting that new hires are asked to fill out a Guide To You, which is a quick survey about their work and communication preferences. Thanks to this, the company can easily figure out how to include them in the best possible way.
Tip 5: Set Clear Boundaries
Setting clear boundaries when it comes to working hours and private life is crucial for remote teams.
Not setting clear boundaries can lead to employees feeling like they have to be available all the time and that their job is never finished. This can quickly lead to burnout, so it is not a sustainable way to work at all.
It’s important to remember that employees are human beings, not machines. They need time to rest and recharge, just like everyone else.
How to set clear boundaries in a healthy remote culture:
One way to do so is by establishing core working hours. This means that everyone is expected to be available during certain hours, but can take a break or step away from work outside of them. There will be strong supporters of this approach, namely workers who like to have set hours when they need to be available will be strong supporters of this concept.
But there is also a slightly different approach you can consider taking(especially when it comes to more creative work). A sustainable remote work culture is the one that gives employees the flexibility to decide when they want to work.
This is where our point on the importance of measuring results – not working hours – comes to its full potential.
Of course this will not be suitable for every job, especially those that require teamwork. However, if someone prefers to work at night then let them do that. If that is the time of the day when they are most productive, why not make the most of it.
Another way to set boundaries is to encourage people to take regular breaks. Rest times can be built into the workday, or employees can decide when to take them.
Also, it’s important to encourage people to take vacation days and not just work straight through without any time off. Again, this is about making sure that people have time to rest and come back to work refreshed.
Tip 6: Try Remote Team Building Games
Why not spice up your team’s daily activities with some fun? This is a really good concept that can motivate employees, integrate them, and promote collaboration.
All team-building games are guaranteed to get your employees talking, laughing, and working together while embracing the remote work culture as a whole.
There are many great remote team-building games to choose from, so it should be easy to find one that your team will enjoy.
If you’re not sure where to start, here are some of our favorites:
An app for peer-to-peer praise. Each team member receives 5 taco emojis every day to distribute as compliments and thanks to their team members. Did you get help with your latest project? Send tacos! 🌮
Employees can also send each other digital gifts like bottles of jalapeño sauce, and the collected tacos can be exchanged for rewards.
You can even ask HeyTaco to tell a joke or do a dance. This is a great way to add a little fun into everyday conversations on Slack or Microsoft Teams.
If you miss the water cooler chit-chat at your office, this tool is for you. Every 1-4 weeks, Donut matches up team members randomly to initiate a non-work-related conversation so that employees can bond better.
Donut is a great way to get your employees to come out of their shells. The app creates opportunities to have one-on-one conversations with people they wouldn’t normally talk to. Plus, Donut is simply a fun way to break up the monotony of the workday and get to know co-workers better.
One person draws an image based on a secret word and the other players have to guess it. The game is similar to Pictionary, but with a twist: you can play in any language you want. Whoever guesses the word fastest earns the most points, and the player with the most points at the end wins.
Tip 7: Establish an Onboarding Process
Lastly, we should not overlook the importance of having an effective process for onboarding remote team members. If you plan your onboarding process well, you’ll be able to tell newbies what to expect, what the company culture is like, and how to succeed. But it’s not enough to just tell them what to do – you need to show them. However, creating an onboarding checklist can help you run an actionable and effective onboarding process.
Before revamping your onboarding tactics, remember that remote onboarding isn’t much different to the regular process. Try to give every new hire the best possible experience and streamline the process to the max.
You might also consider using onboarding software to offer a more engaging experience. Tools such as Sloneek can help you automate the process and make it more interactive.
Our tips on a remote onboarding:
- Set up regular check-ins with a new hire during their first week. This will help ensure that they are settling in well and getting used to the company culture.
- Give them a list of people they can reach out to for help. Make sure the new hire knows who to turn to if they have questions.
- Have a remote welcome kit sent to their home address. This can include a company t-shirt, mug, and other branded materials.
Healthy Remote Work Culture: Mode On
We hope these seven ideas have given you some food for thought. But don’t stop there – keep evolving and growing your remote work culture as your team and company change.
Culture is key when it comes to making remote work successful, and by focusing on the health and well-being of your team, you’ll be able to create a productive environment that benefits everyone.
If you’re lucky enough to already be part of a healthy remote work culture, spread the word and help make it possible for others too.