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How to Promote Culture in Remote Workplaces

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A remote workplace can have a thriving company culture — it just takes a little more work, says the remote company.

As business leaders continue to explore post-pandemic workplace policies, many are wondering whether remote options should be part of their plans. One of their biggest concerns is whether it will affect the company’s culture. Luckily, several companies that have been operating remotely since their inception have offered suggestions on how to create and maintain culture while their workforce is distributed.

“Try different ideas to find the best place,” said Puriswiraj Chowdhury, a Harvard professor who studies the future of work. “We need a lot of pilots.”

Bosses say remote work kills culture. These companies disagree.

Companies like software development platform GitLab, social media marketing software company Buffer, and workflow automation platform Zapier were founded as remote companies from the start. Canadian graphics software company Corel has adopted a permanent remote-first policy during the pandemic. Here’s the advice they gave to leaders looking to build a strong culture:

Companies should not switch to remote work and expect the culture to flourish naturally. Remote his leader said it takes a deliberate effort not only to gain buy-in from his leader at the top of the company, but also to create a sense of connectedness and shared values ​​when employees are dispersed. I was.

So, to make the process easier, companies will develop strategies focused on how they can help their employees in this new environment, remote experts say. What processes do you need to change if your workforce is distributed across the country or the world? How do you ensure that all employees are up to date, connected and stable? Is there a way for employees to connect, and is the company doing anything to promote or encourage it? No physical office for everyone to attend, so additional resources are needed is it?

Asking important questions upfront can alleviate some of the pain points that may arise in the future.

Experts say transparency becomes even more important when the workforce is distributed.

Remote companies say shared documents or internal forums work best, and employees and leaders should document all progress on projects, meeting notes, announcements, policies, and decisions. Some companies have found that making these documents and forums available to all employees helps everyone. That way, someone from another department can easily check in to a project that needs an update from another team.

Make sure every employee knows how and where to get all their documents, they say. In this case, more is better.

Danny Schreiber, senior business operations manager at Zapier, said: “We have a centralized place to share company-wide information so people who join later can catch up.”

create space for socializing

Without an office, workers can easily slip into a work cave and become isolated. However, companies can do a few things to combat this and create energy similar to office environments.

Jenny Terry, Director of Business Operations at Buffer, said:

Experts suggest making time and space for workers to have casual, non-work-related conversations. For example, Zapier created channels on her Slack, a communication service, dedicated to hobbies and interests. GitLab sometimes hosts virtual activities, setting up group chats that last about 15 minutes for employees to get to know each other. Buffer also uses his Donut integration for Slack to pair employees across departments for his 30-minute one-on-ones.

And despite the distance, the three companies said face-to-face connections were invaluable. As such, they host company-wide retreats and encourage meetups. GitLab has gone so far as to offer reimbursement for travel-related expenses if employees want to see each other.

“This is more than just a virtual world,” said Wendy Barnes, Chief People Officer at GitLab. “We bring people together…but you have to be unique and purposeful.”

Use tools to help with asynchronous work

Asynchronous work, or work done independently by teammates at different times, can be tricky.

“We span multiple time zones,” says Buffer’s Terry. “[The challenge is] How do you know that asynchronous communication and collaboration is fine, instead of saying, ‘Let’s pause and put us in the same room for the next step’?”

Remote companies say the best way to navigate asynchronous work is to have the best digital tools for the task and clear communication around them.

Employees need to find ways to collaborate, stay up to date, and see what their colleagues are doing. Some companies say they use a mix of social messaging apps like Slack, Microsoft Teams and Google, shared documents in the cloud, whiteboard tools, forums, and video conferencing tools like Zoom and WebEx. increase. But the need for it depends on the job. Experts say leaders should tell when to use which tools, and employees should be briefed on how to use them.

New ways of working require new management styles, say remote company leaders and employees. For companies that have been doing this for years, managing his workers remotely means focusing on results rather than daily or hourly tasks.

In some cases, that means training managers on how to properly navigate remote work. Experts say it’s no longer the butt of the seat, it’s about achieving set goals.

Corel CEO Christa Quarles said: After the pandemic, we adopted a remote-first policy. “It’s not like, ‘I’ve been watching what you’re doing at your desk all day.'”

Consider adding more perks

Remote businesses say people often mistake corporate culture for things like free kombucha and ping-pong tables. Instead, it’s more than that. Still, perks are useful — they may just look different than what employees get in the office.

How the pandemic has changed employee benefits

Remote workers say their company’s helpful perks include benefits like tech and home office scholarships, and extra time off for mental health. While benefits don’t create culture, some employees say they can strengthen it by making them feel more connected to the company.

Tell me about what’s going on at your workplace.