How to Create a Healthy Remote Workplace Culture
Updated: Jul 29
Are you concerned that the workplace culture you’ve spent so long nurturing is about to fall apart due to the sudden lock-down? Coronavirus struck, and you’ve had to turn to remote working to keep the wheels of commerce turning. The culture of your company shouldn’t fall down the cracks just because you’re not all in a physical office. But how can you ensure it rides this new wave of working? What is a workplace culture?
Business working practises started changing around ten years ago when young millennials began to reach positions of management. With increasing research into what makes an effective business tick, and young, forward-thinking HR managers; the old them and us, management versus employees attitude began to change. Now, successful businesses engage with their employees from the get-go. Staff are treated as an integral part of business operations. Team building activities are becoming the norm, and employees encouraged to contribute ideas to improve working practises. Company values and mission statements are not just for your customers' benefit. Genuine, Innovative, Respectful, Accountable, Transparent, Green, Diverse, and so on, all give customers, employees, and job seekers, an idea of what your company is about.
Added to letterheads, business cards, and other business paperwork, they not only become a part of your company’s workplace culture but provide staff with a guiding set of workplace ethics. But how do you maintain this workplace culture, when everyone has had to start working from home?
Update your comms
Your workplace culture should already include regular meets for business updates and team discussions, and this needs to be kept up, and even increased in the early days of remote working. Consider some of the tools now available, designed specifically to help remote workers keep in contact. Not just with the office, but with clients and with other team members. Video conferencing is the obvious one, and there are a number of excellent systems available designed specifically for remote workplace operations. Consider one of the chatbots available to answer those repetitive questions from new employees or other interested parties, and add a desktop text facility to your network, so staff can easily keep in touch with each other.
Start off as you mean to go on
Your type of business will have a big bearing on whether colleagues can begin their working day at different times to suit themselves, or whether everyone needs to work off the same page. Organise an online video team meetings, discuss working hours, and times of start and finish.
Make the effort to juggle things to suit everyone. Not always possible, but when your employees see you are making the effort, they too will make the effort. It will also help get the message home that this is happening. This is how things are going to be, at least for the foreseeable future. If you have any people who joined just before the lockdown, don’t forget to check in with them on a regular basis, to get an update on how they are settling in. And get a progress report from their mentor, just as you would in your normal office workplace.
Make remote working social
Every successful workplace has an element of social built into it, especially if an autonomous workplace is your ultimate aim. It may be just banter between two employees on adjacent workstations, or social arrangements being made over the coffee machine. But it could also be a discussion on how best to develop the new app they’re working on or a new up-coming work project. Allow your team that same social aspect when working remotely. It could kick-start a new idea, or a timesaving change to normal working practises. There are plenty of apps out there able to imitate that workstation chat or coffee machine discussion.
Keep the team spirit alive (socially distant)
With everyone working on their own from home, team spirit becomes more important. How about sending each member of working group a fun company tee-shirt, with a catchphrase printed across the front. Or give each member an individual tee-shirt with a nickname across the chest, so all members can see it when video conferencing. Organise an online quiz between different teams, or management versus colleagues. Send all employees an email, telling them tomorrow is wear the brightest, garish shirt or blouse they possess. Video judging ten in the morning. Prize for the gaudiest top-voted by the workers, a takeaway delivered to their door. Little things. But little things that build a fun camaraderie, and provide a focal point for the day’s banter. An effective remote workplace culture can pay dividends
Looking on the bright side, the current work situation offers the chance of developing a new, leaner, more cost-effective business model. Using the latest internet technology and apps, you can begin to reap the benefits of no, or reduced office rents, zero utility bills, lower commuting costs, increased output, and a happier, more productive workforce.