The business landscape has always been quick to change, but the last few weeks have radically transformed many businesses. While remote work has been in demand for some time, the emergence of COVID-19 made remote work a top priority for many businesses.
While many businesses have made a speedy transition to remote work, this emphasizes the need to maintain company culture for remote workers. If your business is new to remote work, this guide is for you.
Create Expectations for Remote Workers
The first step any business should take in creating a positive environment for remote workers is laying out expectations. This is particularly important for businesses that have just transitioned. Workers may not have good workspaces set up at home, or they might feel easily distracted by their family members who are also home with them right now.
While it’s a good idea to allow for some flexibility, you’ll also want to lay out some rules. Are your teams expected to be present at work between particular times? It may not be reasonable to expect parents to be at their desks for a solid eight hours, but you could ask them to put in the majority of their working hours between 9 and 5.
You’ll also want to emphasize that the team should be checking in. They can confirm their schedule via a scheduling app, or you could ask them to be available to chat between certain hours.
By creating expectations, you offer your team a sense of professionalism. Flexibility also helps you maintain company culture by allowing your team the time to fulfill other roles in their lives.
Emphasize Policies and Procedures
If your company has just switched to remote work, you may not have policies and procedures ready yet. It’s a good idea to get them in place as soon as possible.
Some policies will remain the same. For example, people should follow your communications policy whether they’re working from home or they’re in the office. You might also ask team members to abide by Internet-use policies during working hours.
You’ll want to create some specific policies for remote workers, such as policies around communication expectations, time off, and setting schedules. If someone must take a sick day, there should be a procedure for them to follow.
Policies may extend to the use of certain applications or business equipment. Ask your team to back up their work to an external hard drive or to make sure they’re syncing with the cloud.
Focus on Connection
An important part of maintaining company culture for remote workers is keeping everyone connected. That’s key during this time of social distancing and self-isolation.
What do you normally do in the office to show you appreciate your team? Do they normally have a group lunch on Fridays? What about theme days?
You can still participate in these sorts of events via tools like video conferencing. Ask the team to check in daily and to chat with each other about issues they’re experiencing. Make time for something “fun” as well, such as a Friday afternoon chat session. A Monday morning briefing can help ensure everyone is on the same page about what should be accomplished the following week.
Maintaining these connections is key for good teamwork, and they also remind people they are part of a team that cares about them.
Finally, communicate your company values to your team. If environmental initiatives are important to you, stress to the team that these values are still important even when they’re working remotely.
When promoting a culture of respect, reiterate it to the team in your communications. Then practice it in your own communications and conferencing.
When leadership demonstrates these values, so too will the team.
Maintaining company culture at a distance can be tricky, but these tips can help you successfully create and reinforce the values that matter most to your business.