How to Maintain a Great Culture Among Remote Employees
Over the last two and a half years or so, one trend that's been relatively common across numerous businesses and industries is an increase in remote workers. Between the pandemic and certain other societal realities that have helped many companies realize how efficient and cost-effective remote work can be, it's no surprise to see this increase -- but it's also vital to think about culture when it comes to your remote workforce.
At Integrated Companies, we're proud to help with numerous employer human resource solutions, from direct needs like payroll solutions and employer insurance to other general areas, including culture and employee well-being. As many of our clients have expanded their remote workforces in recent years, the need for effective culture within said workforces has also increased. Here are some general tips we can offer on how to generate a positive, focused culture among remote employees.
It Starts at Onboarding
Onboarding is always a vital process for any employee, and this is especially true for those who will be working remotely. While some may see remote work as an opportunity to "work from anywhere," it's important to remember that not everyone is cut out for that type of arrangement -- and even those who are may still need some guidance in order to understand company culture and how they can best help contribute to it, no matter where they're working from.
When onboarding new remote employees, start by getting a sense of their work style and preferences. Do they prefer to communicate via email, or would they prefer instant messaging? Do they like to work in short bursts or long stretches? What kind of environment do they need in order to be productive? Answering these questions can help you create an initial framework for how best to work with each new remote employee.
From there, you can begin to introduce them to the company culture. If you have existing remote employees, connect the new hires with them early on so they can start to get a feel for how things work and what's expected of them. If you don't have any other remote employees, consider having everyone -- including in-person employees -- participate in the onboarding process so that everyone gets a chance to get to know the new hire and help them feel welcome within the company.
Regular Check-Ins are Key
Once you've got your new remote employees onboarded and acclimated to the company culture, it's important to stay in communication with them on a regular basis. Depending on the size of your company and the number of remote employees you have, this could be done through weekly or monthly check-ins, either one-on-one or in small groups. These check-ins should serve as an opportunity for employees to ask any questions they may have, share any concerns they may have, and give feedback on how things are going.
It's also important to use these check-ins as an opportunity to provide feedback of your own. If there are areas where you feel an employee could be doing better, or if you have suggestions on how they could improve their work process, this is the time to bring those up. These check-ins should be a two-way conversation, and both parties should feel like they're being heard and that their input is valued.
Encourage Sharing of Challenges
Remote work will often come with certain challenges that wouldn't be present in a traditional office setting, and it's important to create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing those challenges with you. Whether it's difficulty balancing work and home life, trouble maintaining focus, or anything else, employees should feel like they can come to you with their challenges and know that they'll be taken seriously.
One way to encourage this is to create an anonymous feedback system, whether it's through an online form or a physical suggestion box. This way, employees can share their challenges without feeling like they're being singled out or that their concerns will be dismissed. You can also encourage employees to share their challenges during regular check-ins, as mentioned above.
Try to Schedule Real Face Time
Whenever possible, look for opportunities to have real, face-to-face interactions with your remote employees. This could be through video conferencing for regular meetings or check-ins, or it could be through more informal means like happy hours or virtual social events. These interactions can help to humanize employees and help them feel more connected to their coworkers, even if they're not in the same physical space.
And, just as importantly, these interactions can help you get to know your remote employees on a more personal level. The better you know your employees, the better you'll be able to understand their individual needs and how best to support them.
Make Moves to In-Person Work Available
While this won't be possible for every company necessarily, it's worth considering how you can make moves towards in-person work available for your remote employees if and when it's safe to do so. This could be anything from a once-a-year company retreat to more regular opportunities for employees to come into the office for certain meetings or events.
Even if it's not possible to have everyone in the office at the same time, these opportunities can help employees feel more connected to their company and to their coworkers. And, as an added bonus, they can also serve as a nice perk and reward for employees who have been working hard remotely.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your remote employees feel valued, supported, and connected to your company culture -- no matter where they're located. For more on this, or to learn about any of our HR services, speak to our team at Integrated Companies today.