Building a Remote Working Culture: What to Know

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Employers who have embraced remote working find doing business internationally easier, save on office operations cost and experience increased productivity among other benefits.

For remote teams to succeed, however, building a positive working culture is critical. A work culture is made of behaviors, attitudes, values, beliefs, policies, practices, mission, and goals among other aspects of the organization. A positive working culture attracts top talent, increases retention, engagement, productivity, and job satisfaction. In a remote setup, however, cultivating a positive working culture can be challenging as people are scattered in different locations.

Organizations with remote teams need to be proactive in enhancing trust and psychological safety, team building, motivating shared leadership, prioritizing employee general wellness and improving communication. Here is what you need to know about building a positive working culture for a remote team.

1.      Enhance good communication

For people who don’t have the privilege of seeing each other, communication needs to be enhanced for better collaboration. A good communication structure makes everyone feel included. Teams are able to help each other and tackle projects in a seamless way to increase productivity.

For an organization to build a good communication culture that makes communication easier, they need to:

·        Put in place communication guidelines and protocols. This can include response time frames, email etiquette, video and messaging best practices.

·        Utilize the best messaging and video conferencing tools. For instance, Slack allows real-time messaging, file and documents sharing and teams can be separated by department or projects. Zoom allows teams conduct video calls, adding the human element missing in texting.

·        Respect the different cultures and time zones.

2.      Courage team building

Working without human interaction can bring isolation for remote workers. When one works in isolation, working relationships become hard to foster, people become unhappy which can greatly affect productivity.

Managers need to think of ways to bring a social sense in conversations. Ensure you are celebrating peoples’ milestones such as birthdays during video conferencing. You can also include virtual games, online challenges and get everyone participating.

Another form of remote team building is creating subgroups according to interests and geographical locations. People who live close to each other can be encouraged to meet regularly.

     3.      Foster an environment with psychological safety

Psychological safety allows people to speak their mind without the fear of being reprimanded, shut down or embarrassed. Employees feel at home with each other and are more committed and motivated.

Managers need to create a culture that shows employees that it is okay to make mistakes.  They should also encourage people to speak up their thoughts. A good way to do this is by asking for feedback from employees, then holding virtual meetings to discuss the feedback. Managers should also be fair in giving feedback about work without ridiculing or making things personal.

4.      Prioritize employees’ wellness

A thin line exists between work and life for remote workers. If not carefully handled, it becomes difficult to draw a line between the two. In addition, statistics show that remote employees often feel guilty of taking annual leaves. They work for long hours, leaving no time for rest and play. The result is a burnout and fatigue that inhibits motivation and productivity.

If you are to build a strong working culture, you need to take employees’ general wellness with the priority it deserves. Encourage them to take breaks in between work. Be intentional in finding out any health challenges that they have and help them get through. Allow social talks during video chats.

     5.      Create shared leadership opportunities

Creating leadership opportunities for team members in a remote team is very important in fostering a positive working culture. Employees feel they are doing something when they get trusted to lead or mentor their colleagues.

Rather than just assigning tasks, empower others in the team to be leaders in their group. You can encourage them to mentor new members. Another good idea is to give them a chance to lead a team building activity, or come with an idea that can form the next project.

Conclusion

Remote working isn’t the future of work, it is the now. As companies continue embracing this kind of working arrangement, it is important to cultivate a culture that will build strong teams. These are team members who are committed to work towards the goals and mission of the company.

A positive working culture can, however, not be built in a day. Let the above tips guide you as you encourage the participation of the leadership and employees alike.

-Nora Price

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