Having a great company culture has numerous benefits from increased employee engagement to attracting new talent. In a world of remote work, however, it can be challenging to maintain a strong culture when no one is together. Much of a company's culture relies on people being able to interact and build a shared community as a team. But when everyone has to keep their distance, how do you create that sense of vision and belonging? Luckily, there are a few things you can do to keep company culture alive even when the team isn't together.
How to keep culture strong on a remote team
So much of organizational culture relies on the connections people make together which won't happen by accident in a remote setting. Here are a few ideas to help you embrace your culture at home.
Reconnect with your mission: In many companies, mission statements are something you read through as a new hire and promptly forget. Often talking about things like core values or vision is treated as being separate from the daily operations of the company. But working remotely is a great time to dust off those tenets. Take the opportunity to talk with your team about what the company is doing and the direction it's moving in. Try to connect tasks and activities back to the core of why your company does what it does to re-inspire your workforce. The goal is to eventually have an easy to articulate and understand mission that can be infused into the work every employee does.
Support camaraderie: Because such a large part of culture is social, it can be a challenge to recreate that work environment in a remote setting. There are many ways to help employees interact with each other more even when at a distance. If your team is growing disconnected, consider bringing back the idea of a buddy system. Pairing employees up for coffee chats or work projects can have a large impact on wellness and engagement. Try creating a schedule where each week employees are paired with someone new so that they get to rotate who they see and talk to. Camaraderie grows from connecting often so make sure the team has the ability to communicate both individually and as a larger group.
Celebrate wins: Think of all those fun things you used to do in the office throughout the year. Hopefully celebrating successes was a big part of your company culture so don't let that trend disappear when working from home. Bring team members together to give kudos on completed projects or wins. Give the team space and time to celebrate together, even if it's on a Zoom call. Managers can also celebrate smaller wins by sending private emails of praise, talking to the employee one-to-one (online of course), or giving little perks as a reward like an Amazon gift card. You want people to feel appreciated and, better yet, to share that good will with each other.
Remember the water cooler: In the office, there's probably somewhere that's become the modern day "water cooler." This means the place employees would go to chat or take breaks. Often the coffee pot in the kitchen is a good place to see people having a quick talk before starting their day. In a remote world,however, technology is the answer. Consider using a tool like Slack to give employees a channel to chat on. You'll probably want to set some guidelines around appropriate content but stress that this channel is for non-work subjects or to let off steam. Encourage employees to post funny memes, share stories, or chat about what Netflix show to watch next. You may not be able to physically bring a water cooler to your team but the team building elements can be achieved regardless.
Encourage coaching: Your workers have a lot of skills so why not give them a chance to share them? Think about baking coaching into your remote team to help employees better connect to one another and learn something new while they're at it. Coaching can help employees feel less isolated and increase engagement and motivation. And learning from your peers is a great way to develop deeper bonds between team mates. You can have employees trading non-work related skills, like someone teaching the team to do yoga, or they can work on strengthening a skill or ability like becoming better leaders. The idea is to keep your people invested in learning and self-improvement in order to create a more positive culture.
Culture is the heart of a company
Having a great culture in the office is something to celebrate but mimicking that culture in a remote setting can be far more difficult. Do your best to embrace your company values and connect them to the work being done on the team whenever possible. If you can, provide opportunities for your team to connect and interact with each other on a daily or weekly basis. You can even ask for employee feedback along the way to keep on top of how your team is feeling and adjust accordingly. It's not as easy creating a connected community online but it's possible. And if you take the time to keep culture alive when everyone is at home, they'll hopefully bring that learning with them when we return to office life, making your overall culture as an organization even stronger.