It can be difficult to maintain, grow, and develop company culture when most of us are working from home – and will probably be doing so for months to come. Your remote team culture will flourish or fail, purely on communication. Get communication wrong, and you’ll find that your culture just won’t stick.
When we can’t bump into colleagues in the lift, put the world to rights by the water cooler or have an impromptu lunch to chat about life, the universe and everything, teams can become disparate and misaligned. I have been chatting with our clients recently and here are some of their best ideas to keep remote workers feeling part of the wider team:
Most communication tools can be left open during working hours either as a desktop app or browser tab, with notifications keeping you updated. Something as simple as keeping that tab open will keep the door open for communication, creating a more cohesive and collaborative workplace.
Host virtual lunchrooms where colleagues can meet, chat, or simply listen to background ambient conversations while enjoying lunch.
Encourage any new employees to arrange ‘face to face’ virtual meetings with as many of the team as they feel comfortable with; particularly those who are in different departments.
Create a central hub with company activities so that people can organise and participate in anything from book clubs to happy hours.
Promote a (virtual) safe space to encourage everyone to contribute, not just the extroverts. Don’t just focus on work-related topics either; asking about general happiness and mood encourages openness – perhaps even pose problems to the wider community which can be tackled together. e.g. how to manage back to back video calls with two toddlers running around?
Having a distributed team means that your culture is going to be more difficult to grasp for new team members, so involve the entire team to make sure that everyone is on the same page and you are all heading in the same direction and not just putting out fires or dealing with the latest emergency. The resulting document should clearly articulate the company culture to everyone in your organisation, new and old, right from day one. It should be clear about expectations, how performance is measured, how you assess employees for cultural fit, and the like.
Set a time for a formal quarterly survey to get an update from every team member to gauge the sentiment amongst your team at any time. There are some excellent people analytics tools out there to help with this including our Friisberg Network Advisory software.
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