Even with a remote team, culture should be a top consideration when thinking about employee satisfaction. Does your company or team have a strong work culture? Do remote employees feel supported? All of these questions should be top of mind when managing groups of people online.
Why is a strong work culture so important? A positive culture can lead to higher employee satisfaction. Team morale directly contributes to productivity and employee retention, two significant elements to a successful company.
This article will cover some essential tips and tricks that will help you build a great work culture with your remote team.
Why Does Culture Building Matter?
The positive culture you create for your team members will impact the productivity of your department.
Studies by the Queen’s School of Business and by the Gallup Organization have shown that disengaged workers had:
- 37% higher absenteeism
- 49% more accidents
- 60% more errors and defects
The studies also showed that in organizations with low employee engagement scores, there was:
- 18% less productivity
- 16% lower profitability
- 37% lower job growth
- 65% lower share price over time
If you aren’t already convinced of the benefits, they also found that businesses with highly engaged employees receive 100% more job applications.
The Challenges of Remote Interactions
Video calls have become commonplace for people that work remotely. Most coordination and collaboration in the workplace happens virtually and substitutes the need for meeting in person.
Video communication has its benefits. But video calls require more focus than face-to-face communications. And so, fatigue can be a strong influence on the productivity and well-being of your team.
Similarly, without an actual watercooler to gather around, team members don’t have the opportunity to spontaneously interact as they would in an office. For those with a tendency to be more introverted, it could create challenges in building strong professional relationships. This can also be pose challenges for new hires, who are meeting all team members virtually.
The good news is that having a remote workforce does not mean your company culture needs to suffer. With the right approach, you can keep help keep your virtual employees engaged and feeling supported. You can build a strong remote team culture!
How to Build a Strong Work Culture
Establish trust and respect
Trust and respect are the foundation of healthy relationships. Work relationships are no exception.
Respect reduces stress, increases productivity and collaboration, improves employee satisfaction, and creates a fair work environment. Trust is a key element to effective communication, employee commitment to your company, and overall productivity. To build a strong team culture, you need to make sure you have a strong foundation of trust and respect.
How to Build Trust
Trust is the willingness of one party to be vulnerable to the actions of another. In other words, two people have an understanding that they will act in a way that is mutually beneficial.
Trust occurs at three levels; the company, the team, and the personal level. To create an environment built on trust, start at the individual level first. Trust between yourself and another is what you have the most control over. Once that trust is established, it will be easier to build trust at higher levels.
You can build trust by:
- Following through with commitments
- Being patient
How to Build Respect
Respect is both the feeling of regarding someone positively for their qualities and the action of treating someone with appreciation and dignity. Respect should be a standard in a workplace.
You can respect your coworkers, employees, or managers by:
- Giving them the attention they need
- Listening to their opinions
- Speaking with kindness
Miscommunications can cause problems. That’s why it’s so important to make sure your team communicates properly with each other.
For remote workers, this can be more challenging than for their in-person counterparts. The nonverbal cues we are accustomed to while communicating are virtually nonexistent through email and instant messages.
You can combat this by ensuring you create spaces for people to communicate through video. Yes, nonverbal cues are still challenging to read on video. However, they at least provide team members with the chance to hear the tone and intention of each other’s messages.
Schedule time together
You can create spaces for people to communicate through video by scheduling meetings. While it’s tempting to spend the workday focused on your deliverables, great work happens when you collaborate and share ideas.
The two types of meetings that you should consider are team meetings and personal meetings.
Team meetings are made up of multiple individuals that work on objectives collaboratively. Team meetings are great opportunities to discuss strategy, follow up on deliverables, and measure success.
Personal meetings are most common between managers and their direct reports. These meetings are a good opportunity to talk about ongoing projects. You can also get an overall check on how someone is feeling about their work. If there are any challenges or concerns, this can be the space to address them. In a culture established on respect and trust, conversations regarding employee wellbeing will help them feel supported and understood.
But, as we mentioned above, video calls can be fatiguing. Give your team the ability to participate rather than just listen. This can help energize them and make them feel supported and heard.
Encourage informal conversations
As we mentioned above, employees that work from home don’t have the opportunity to pop by a coworker’s desk and chat. You want employees to stay connected to each other and build relationships. This will help build an even stronger remote culture. Encourage your team members to talk about things unrelated to the task at hand. You can do this by making small talk in the video lobby before the meeting and establishing an open-door policy. An open-door policy encourages employees to reach out at any time, without needing to schedule a meeting beforehand.
Open-door policies can be quite effective at strengthening team culture. However, open-door policies done wrong can have the exact opposite effect. You need to establish clear working hours and honor them. No open-door policy should apply to anyone outside of those hours.
You don’t want your employees to feel the need to be available at all hours.
Acknowledge culture champions
As your team culture flourishes, you’ll quickly identify specific people that are your “champions”. These culture champions are key to spreading company culture far and wide. It’s impossible to be in every place all the time and the champions can help push your ideas where you aren’t available.
Culture is Important
Do you have any insights to share about building a strong team culture for a remote team? Share with us your experiences or questions!