How To Build a Remote Work Culture for Your Team
Workplace changes resulting from the pandemic have encouraged both employers and employees to consider a remote work style now more than ever before. Before sending your team to start setting up their remote offices, it's important to understand how remote work culture can affect the failure or success of remote teams. Developing a strong virtual culture for employees can lead to higher productivity, higher job satisfaction, and improved employee retention. To help set your remote teams up for success from the beginning, follow these tips on building positive culture for virtual teams.
What Exactly Is Remote Work Culture?
Remote work culture is a shared set of norms, attitudes, and ideas that structure how remote work teams operate. This takes the concept of work culture — a collection of shared attitudes, beliefs, and ideas that make up a traditional work environment — and applies it to teams working remotely.
Every work group has a unique culture, whether it's intentional or not. Organizations with strong company cultures work hard to set expectations on how their internal teams should communicate and collaborate during the normal course of their workday. These efforts can translate to higher productivity levels and a sense of belonging and community.
With remote workforces, managers should be especially intentional on developing a remote company culture where virtual employees feel connected to the larger organization and other members of their team. When a company works to develop a strong remote work culture, employees and managers can benefit from:
- Reduced feelings of isolation
- Better preparation for future work transitions
- Improved relationships with people from all over the company
Building a strong virtual culture takes effort, but you can set clear expectations with your team with a few straightforward tips.
Set Your Remote Employees Up for Success
Big ideas can only come to fruition when you (and your employees) have the proper resources to support them. Building strong remote work culture starts with setting your employees up for success by providing them with the right equipment and tools to work efficiently.
The exact tools needed for members of your team will vary based on work tasks, but remote employees will generally need these essentials:
- Laptop or desktop computer
- Reliable Wi-Fi
- Paper and office supplies
- Quality camera and microphone (if not built into the computer)
- Ergonomic office chair
- Cell phone or virtual phone capability
While this list does encompass some of the essentials for working remotely, that doesn't necessarily mean your company needs to finance all items for all employees. Offering employee discounts or wholesale pricing can help your employees get what they need for a successful remote office. It is worth noting that some state laws often require reimbursement for necessary job expenses related to working remotely. For employees who've never worked remotely before, they may simply need some guidance on the best options to purchase for an effective home-office setup.
Establish a Remote Work Policy
Once your employees have the resources they need for working remotely, they'll also need guidelines on expectations during working hours. Creating written policies for your remote employees to follow can proactively answer employee questions and eliminate stress and uncertainty with a newly remote role.
Create your remote work policy in a digital document so it can be easily distributed to employees and updated as needed. Comprehensive remote work guidelines should consider sections for:
- Communication policies
- Collaboration policies
- Scheduling policies
- Vacation and time-off policies
Communicate Collaboration Expectations To Connect With Remote Employees
As remote work becomes more commonplace, the demand for remote communication channels has fueled an entire digital marketplace of communication apps and tools. Having a variety of app choices may allow your team to find uniquely targeted solutions for their work style, but it can also be overwhelming to remote workers who are struggling to keep up with multiple channels throughout the workday.
Many of the most popular remote collaboration platforms offer corporate account options that make it easy for your teams to stay in touch while still maintaining a healthy work-life balance. These can include:
- Microsoft Teams
- Google Office Suite
In addition to outlining which channels your team will use, your collaboration policies should also specify expectations for response times and posting frequency. Letting your team know where and how often to expect virtual meetings can further take the guesswork out of online collaboration. Clearly state your collaboration policies related to:
- Amount and frequency of meeting times
- Which collaboration tools are approved for work use
- Communication expectations, including response times and methods during off hours
Create an Events Calendar
Calendar management is important for setting incremental goals, increasing productivity, and looking forward to big-picture efforts. But calendars filled with tedious work tasks and countless meetings can be quite draining for remote employees. Give your team a motivational boost by adding fun and collaborative events to a shared events calendar.
All-hands meetings and team check-ins may not be all fun and games, but they still give your employees a sense of inclusion in the bigger picture of your organization's direction. Knowing these dates in advance can also keep them motivated toward finishing projects or hitting milestones to share with the larger team.
Establish a Buddy System
Regular communication with a work "buddy" can improve an employee's sense of belonging within your company. While this is likely to happen naturally for employees in similar roles or work groups, you can foster a deeper sense of team camaraderie by pairing work buddies across different offices or teams. This can give employees a better understanding of how other departments operate within the larger organization, improving their ability to collaborate effectively and accomplish work tasks with a "bigger picture" mindset.
Engage Virtual Employees With Creative Team Building Ideas
With in-person work groups, a team after-hours event is commonplace for community building. Thanks to technology, building community in the virtual workplace is possible so that your remote teams aren't precluded from the fun. A little planning can help you engage your employees through creative virtual events, such as:
- Virtual happy hour
- Ice-breaker games
- Virtual cooking classes
- Virtual coffee chats
- Online team board games
- Virtual show-and-tell
By providing your remote teams with the equipment and tools to help them be successful and feel included as a valuable member of your larger organization, you can set your employees up to do their best work in an environment where they feel most comfortable. Take advantage of Paychex HR solutions to help your organization transition to hybrid or remote operations successfully.