How to Build Company Culture After a Shift to Remote Work

      Office work has changed drastically over the past year and a half. The pandemic made remote work a necessity and it has proven how successful employees can be outside of the office. Even after the pandemic finally ends, it’s unlikely businesses will resume traditional work models. As it stands, remote work is here to stay. 

      The shift to full or partially remote staffs, however, have many businesses concerned about company culture. In the past, company culture was built using face-to-face interaction as well as employee gatherings to develop bonds and deepen connections. Remote work settings have many managers wondering how they can establish a strong company culture that is engaging and inclusive when people aren’t connecting in person. 

      Remote work culture may look different from traditional work culture, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t as effective. Below are five strategies you can use to build your company culture after a shift to remote work. 

      Acknowledge the new remote-first culture

      Developing company culture today requires a completely different process than in the past. Leaders need to first recognize that old methods of culture development won’t work. Instead, leaders and employees need to find ways to connect and support each other through virtual means.

      For example, many businesses have started using Slack as a way to engage with employees online about activities. IBM is one such organization that has put the platform to good use building company culture. IBM employees use Slack to organize grocery pick-ups for employees who need help. Other companies use Slack to engage employees in fun competitions and games with raffle drawings. 

      Once you acknowledge a remote-first culture, you’ll be able to start developing new programs and initiatives that are remote-friendly and that will keep employees involved. 

      Stay flexible

      It can be tempting to micromanage employees in their new remote settings. A common fear among business owners is that employee productivity will not be as high now that employees have more autonomy. Some companies have even been employing time trackers and website blockers to closely monitor employee engagement when they’re online.

      Steps like this, however, only show employees you don’t trust them. Plus, they’re not necessary as surveys show employee productivity is the same, if not higher when working remotely. One survey found remote work actually created a 5 percent increase in worker productivity. 

      You don’t want to create a culture of distrust by imposing controls on your employees, so remember to stay flexible. Give employees the freedom and space they need to manage their own work while also offering support and gentle guidance at the same time. 

      Develop a strong mission

      Employees are more likely to diligently complete tasks if they have a clear mission in mind. If your company’s mission is murky, now is the time to clear it up. Give your employees a goal and vision to strive toward. For example, if your organization’s mission is to build the most awe-inspiring advertising campaigns, your employees will get excited about contributing to such an ambitious goal. Your employees want to feel like they’re a part of something meaningful, so develop a company mission that inspires people to work hard. 

      Enhance transparency

      Company leaders need to remain transparent, if not enhance transparency, with work from home culture. Open lines of communication need to be in place to relay not only company updates but also to ensure employees understand why they’re working on certain tasks and how their progress is impacting the rest of the business. Avoid transparency problems in your remote work culture by enhancing communication and establishing effective communication methods. For instance, Slack channels can be beneficial for team communication, and monthly or quarterly Zoom meetings can keep everyone updated on company-wide initiatives. If you’re unsure how well remote communication is working, send out a survey to employees to receive feedback and suggestions for improving transparency. 

      Welcome new employees

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      Onboarding is an employee’s first impression of company culture, but remote setups have made introducing new employees to the team much different. Even though everyone is now remote, it’s still important to ensure new employees feel welcomed and included in the company. Introduce new hires to the company through any remote means you see fit. For example, you can have them fill out a brief questionnaire and circulate it in the next employee newsletter. Another option is to introduce them virtually during the quarterly office meeting. You should also have a process in place for new employees to connect with colleagues virtually after starting. Virtual one-on-ones will give a new employee an opportunity to understand how they’ll be working with others and it will help build connections. 

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