Over the past few years, the way we work has changed forever. Millions of workers worldwide have swapped their metro passes for monitors and made the switch to working from home. And, according to Buffer, it isn’t hard to see why:
- 75% of remote workers feel connected to their colleagues
- 70% of remote workers are not paid less for working remotely
- 98% of workers want an element of remote work
The flexibility and cost-effectiveness of working from home make it an attractive prospect for most organizations, but it can still be a daunting shift to make. Remote work can lead to a sense of isolation from fellow coworkers, which can threaten your workplace culture and employee engagement.
That being said, there are several strategies for counteracting the negative impacts of remote work to build a thriving online workplace that exemplifies your organization’s culture. In this guide, we’ll cover:
Ready to step into the future of employment? Let’s dive in!
Remote Workplace Culture FAQs
Let’s start off by answering some questions you may have about workplace culture and why it’s especially important in a remote setting.
What is workplace culture?
Workplace culture refers to the shared values, attitudes, beliefs, and practices that structure the experience of working at your organization. You can promote a shared understanding of your workplace culture by hosting an organization-wide meeting monthly to get updates across departments or having a communal space for everyone to eat lunch together.
Why is workplace culture important in a remote work environment?
Having a strong workplace culture is particularly significant in a remote environment because it helps your team become a community that upholds your organization’s values, even when everyone’s physically distanced.
While working remotely, your team members won’t see each other as often as they might in the office and thus might feel disconnected from your workplace culture. However, your leadership team can combat this and foster a close-knit team experience with remote work culture programs.
Why is remote work so popular?
If you’re like most workers and have worked remotely in the past few years, you’ve likely noticed some of these significant benefits for both employees and employers:
- Greater flexibility in work schedule and location
- Ability to avoid long commutes and save on transportation costs
- Opportunity to create a more personalized work environment
- Increased autonomy and control over work-life balance
- Potential for higher productivity, job satisfaction, and retention
- Access to a broader talent pool of potential employees, regardless of their location
- Decreased environmental impact from reduced transportation and energy usage in-office
How can I assess my company’s current culture in a remote work environment?
To get a baseline for your company’s current remote workplace culture, consider these tips:
- Conduct surveys: Your employees know your organization’s internal strengths and weaknesses better than anyone else. Send a survey asking for their opinions on your remote workplace culture, such as how to strengthen it.
- Host virtual focus groups: Once your leadership team has some ideas to improve your remote workplace culture, test them out with virtual focus groups. Get a diverse group of employees together, ask for their thoughts on your programs, and take their feedback into account while structuring the rollout.
- Conduct skip-level meetings: If your organization has a middle-management structure, the top leadership team likely doesn’t regularly interact with lower-level employees. Start a direct conversation with employees that you aren’t regularly in touch with by hosting a skip-level meeting on work culture without middle managers present. This allows you to foster open dialogue among employees and might inspire some employees to suggest improvements.
- Monitor employee engagement in organizational events: In a remote workplace, you have oversight of virtual event participation. If attendance is low, it could indicate a lack of interest in the existing organizational culture.
- Analyze performance metrics: Your key performance indicators (KPIs) can be strongly linked to your organization’s work culture. For instance, studies show that closer teams with strong interpersonal communication and ideological alignment significantly outperform those that are less aligned. Compare your teams’ performances against each other based on their level of teamwork to find opportunities for improvement.
These strategies allow you to hear diverse perspectives about your organization’s work culture. Just asking team members for feedback can boost trust and transparency between teams and jumpstart your remote workplace culture revamp!
The Challenges of Remote Work and How to Overcome Them
Let’s frame our discussion of workplace culture by addressing the challenges that come with implementing it in a remote setting, as well as strategies for surmounting them.
Challenge #1: Lack of a consistent culture across teams and business units
Regardless of your organization’s particular values, a strong workplace culture has many people united around it. Remote workers have to be more deliberate in how they communicate with each other, which can demotivate them from reaching out as often. However, you can facilitate connections with these tips:
- Schedule regular virtual meetings: By now, video calls have become a fixture of our personal and professional lives. Leverage them to set up regular check-in meetings with your team. Consider trying a “daily huddle” format so that your employees get some social interaction at the top of their work day and the opportunity to receive some professional advice from each other.
- Take a communal approach to work: If your organization doesn’t already have collaborative tasks implemented in your workflow, consider adding them if possible. For instance, a PR firm could add an editing step for writing tasks before the content gets sent out. Not only will it make your employees communicate regularly, but it’ll also allow them to learn something about your workplace culture from a fellow employee.
- Celebrate success: Congratulating employees for embodying your workplace culture can boost their productivity and commitment to their roles. Develop a method to encourage employee success, such as publicly acknowledging contributors at a weekly meeting or giving out prizes for organizational goals met. Take it a step further by allowing peers to recognize each other with celebratory eCards or a virtual “Bravo” board where anyone can praise a fellow team member.
- Discuss shared company values: At its core, your workplace culture is your organization’s shared values and goals. Host meetings centered around topics relevant to your organization, such as diversity and inclusion, professional development, and work-life balance. These meetings promote collaboration and a deeper engagement with your core values.
All of these ideas will help get your employees out of their shells and boost commitment to your organization’s workplace culture. Just ensure that you ask for input from your employees and adjust your offerings accordingly so they find the programs valuable and entertaining.
Challenge #2: Lack of informal socialization opportunities
One of the biggest challenges of remote work is the alienation that can accompany it. Without the casual conversations and chats that occur in an in-person workplace setting, it can be more difficult for coworkers to find community outside of the purely professional environment, leading to more distant and less effective teams.
However, your organization can promote socialization outside of the professional realm by:
- Organizing hobby clubs: Foster a sense of community and personal connection among your employees by starting optional hobby clubs. Some popular options are book clubs, running groups, knitting circles, and trivia teams. Allow these groups the choice to meet online or in person to accommodate personal schedules and comfort levels.
- Throwing milestone and holiday parties: Who doesn’t love a party to close out the work day? Organize after-work celebrations for holidays and personal milestones with your team. If you’re worried about your budget, you don’t have to host a large party for everything—your employees will appreciate even a short remote gathering for everyone to sing happy birthday to them and a small gift card to celebrate.
- Adopting an event coordination program: The best way to ensure that your employees pursue social opportunities outside of work is to provide the funds to do so. Allow each employee to organize a social event periodically (i.e. once a month or quarter) within a certain budget. For instance, your employees could meet up for dinner after work or host an online movie night. Incentivizing employees with company funds is a surefire way to get them excited about getting to know each other personally, not just professionally.
- Providing social impact opportunities: When organizations provide their employees with work-sponsored volunteer programs, they’re five times more engaged and productive. Embrace the positive impacts of social responsibility initiatives, such as increased employee satisfaction and improved brand image, by incorporating philanthropy into your workplace culture. You can provide remote employees with volunteer grants, paid time off to volunteer, and matching gift programs to incentivize them to work together for great causes.
Not only do these initiatives promote a healthy workplace culture, but they also contribute to your employees’ well-being and work-life balance. They’ll be more likely to trust each other with a genuine bond of friendship tying them together, leading to more effective teamwork and improved productivity.
Challenge #3: Lack of the right software solutions
One of the largest considerations in switching to a remote workplace is choosing the correct software solutions. With the right tools, you can overcome the alienating aspects of remote work and promote a workplace culture built on teamwork and excellence. The following software solutions can help productivity and partnership flourish in a remote workplace:
- Microsoft/Google Workspace: These suites are the most popular choices for content creation and collaboration in remote work environments. Both choices offer email platforms, shared document storage, spreadsheet tools, and integrated video conferencing tools to streamline your operations from home.
- eCardWidget: Allowing your remote employees to show their appreciation for each other is crucial for preserving morale and comradery. A tool like eCardWidget provides an affordable, customizable, and eco-friendly way for employees to congratulate each other for their accomplishments and build relationships without daily face-to-face interactions.
- Zoho: This robust project management and time-tracking platform boosts transparency amongst your team, allowing you to complete work efficiently. Also, Zoho offers an integrated CRM, password keeper, and reporting tool so you can always stay on top of your partnerships and operate securely.
- Zoom: This platform has revolutionized the remote workplace, and it’s a must for remote teams. While Google Meet and Teams are good solutions for internal communications, consider investing in these video conferencing solutions for large-capacity, external communications. This is especially important if you’re planning on hosting any webinars or conferences online so you can accommodate as many participants as possible.
- Slack: This messaging platform provides an organized, straightforward way to stay in touch with your employees across teams and business units. It also integrates with other tools we’ve already mentioned, such as Google Drive and Zoho.
- Miro: Using this tool, you can replicate the collaborative feel of a whiteboard in a meeting room completely online. Team members can add sticky notes and images to different project boards to easily visualize complex information from home.
All of these tools contribute to a strong workplace culture by facilitating teamwork and communication even while employees are physically distant from each other. To get started, research the tools available for different niches and industries. Once you’ve found a great fit, request a demo and ask for feedback from your employees to gauge the solution’s value for your organization.
How to Cultivate Your Workplace Culture Remotely
Let’s put everything we’ve learned together to generate steps for cultivating workplace culture remotely.
- Highlight your organization’s values on your website and in your employee handbook to create workplace expectations around them.
- Devise a comprehensive remote work plan, including necessary software, communication cadences, and social programs.
- Test out your new ideas and technology with focus groups before you invest fully in them.
- Periodically collect employee feedback and KPIs and adjust your approach accordingly.
These four general steps can help you structure your remote workplace in a way that’s conducive to promoting your culture and yielding positive program results for your organization.
Enhancing Your Workplace Culture for Good
Ultimately, remote workplaces are here to stay, and the sooner you embrace the format, the sooner you can reap the benefits. By understanding the importance of workplace culture, assessing your current practices, and taking feedback from your employees into account, you can create a more valuable workplace experience.
From investing in the right technology, starting a volunteering program, or recognizing your employees with eCards, you can create a more connected and effective organization than ever before.
- Peer-to-Peer Recognition: Fostering a Strong Work Culture. Praise from fellow colleagues can boost your employees’ confidence and contributions to your goals. Learn how to promote peer-to-peer recognition with this guide.
- Corporate Social Responsibility: The Definintive Guide. Want to know more about improving both your organization’s reputation and making a difference in the community simultaneously? Check out this guide to corporate social responsibility for everything you need to know.
- A Complete Guide to Employee Engagement + Top 10 Ideas. Keeping your employees engaged and inspired leads to long-term success and talent retention. Stand out from the crowd with these unique employee engagement strategies.