Maintaining a Strong Company Culture whilst Remote Working
As we continue on through a second UK lockdown, with no guaranteed end date in sight, and employees return to working remotely once more, maintaining a strong company culture should be one of your priorities as an employer.
This might seem like a mammoth task when you can’t currently organise team-building activities, excursions to exotic locations or celebratory drinks like you used to. But just because remote working might have changed the rules, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t play the game.
The importance of company culture
During such uncertain and unprecedented times, you might think that not investing time and energy into maintaining your company culture for a few months won’t hurt. However, not encouraging continual connection and communication amongst your remote working team can have a significant impact.
One of the biggest struggles employees face when working remotely is loneliness which can affect your employee’s mental and physical health, overall mood and performance. A study by global employee recognition and engagement specialist Achievers, also found that as many as a third of British workers felt less connected to their workplace culture and colleagues due to the pandemic.
Not feeling connected to company culture has also been linked to increases in stress and lowered employee retention, engagement and satisfaction.
Steps to maintaining a strong company culture amongst remote workers
Now you understand the importance of keeping on top of maintaining your company culture during this second lockdown, it’s time to start taking action.
Transparent communication is 101 when maintaining a company culture, regardless of whether you’re team are all together or working remotely. This is because it helps to build trust between employer and employee, which is particularly crucial during economic crisis when job security and finances are a major concern.
In a recent survey by CensusWide, 48% of remote workers agreed that transparency is key when it comes to feeling a strong sense of job security. Another 47% also said that they wanted to hear from management about how the business was being affected by current events and what was being done to protect it and their role. 38% of these responders said that their company needed to do more than they were to keep employees informed.
So if you haven’t already, consider using a variety of communication channels, from Zoom calls to Whatsapp to Slack, to effectively reach your remote workers and provide them with regular updates. Creating a dedicated channel where they can safely share feedback and ask questions is also crucial.
Recognise and celebrate
Recognising your remote working employees accomplishments and celebrating anniversaries can be a fantastic way of boosting camaraderie and helping your team feel more connected to one another. You could organise a regular group Zoom call or Google Meet where you can celebrate the achievements of the past week or an employee’s anniversary or birthday. It might not be quite the same as going to the pub, but it’s better than letting it go unacknowledged.
But why not go one step further. At Deltra, we send out cards and gifts to celebrate our team’s work anniversaries, which is something we’ve continued to do during lockdown. There’s also the option of arranging food and drink to be delivered to their homes or sending out virtual gifts such as an online gift card to say thanks for doing a good job.
Implement a buddy system
Even with the best intentions in the world, it can be difficult for you to check-in on each member of your team to the extent that you feel is necessary, particularly if there’s a lot of them. This could be a full-time job in itself and take you away from your other business duties. Thankfully, there is a solution; the buddy system.
Most commonly used to onboard new employees, many businesses are now utilising this tried and tested method of pairing employees together to improve communication amongst remote working teams. The idea is that the pair have each other to talk to about work and personal issues and can raise a red flag if they have a cause for concern. However for this to work effectively, the pairs need to be tasked with regular communication. It also shouldn’t be a replacement for you to do regular check-ins.
Don’t forget about video fatigue
While it’s important to have regular face-time with your remote workers, not every meeting needs to be a video call. Video fatigue is a real issue which can be caused from endless video meetings and has the potential to lead to remote employee burnout. For this reason, it’s important to set clear expectations to your team about which meetings need to be on video, such as one-to-one check-ins or team meetings and which don’t, such as meetings where you screen share a presentation.
You might also want to consider how many meetings you need each week and if there are any that can be done over the phone instead. This can help to reduce employee burnout, while also helping to increase productivity.
Now is a difficult time for everyone, but you need to keep the maintenance of your company culture at the very top of your to-do list each week. With these steps to help you, maintaining a connection to your remote workforce even when you can’t see them in person doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking. Instead, it can become second nature.