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How to build and keep company culture with a remote team

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Creating a culture for your company is difficult in the best of scenarios so it can be even more challenging in a remote working environment. With the right tools, policies, and team, you can build a remote company culture that will help lead your company to success. 

Why is company culture so important?

A strong and effective culture can enable your company to recruit and keep the best talent, relieve stress points, and it turns your employees into a successful team. Studies show that companies that invest in their culture and the morale of their employees have lower turnover and higher productivity.

Create a Vision of What You Want and Expect from Your Remote Team

Whether your team started out remote or they’re transitioning from the office to working from home, it’s important to figure out what your vision for culture and what expectations you have for your team.

Start with asking yourself and team some questions like: 

  • How do you prefer to communicate with each other and how often?
  • How will you communicate during urgent situations? 
  • Will you have weekly or daily check-ins?
  • How can remote employees get help when they’re overwhelmed, stressed, or unsure about how to do something?
  • How should employees provide and receive feedback?
  • When should employees be available? Will hours become more flexible in a remote environment or is there an expectation for employees to be working certain hours in the day?

Once you’ve answered the above questions and some you came up with yourself, it’s important to make sure that your team is clear on what’s expected from them. In addition to talking with them about your expectations in a remote environment, it’s best to put it in writing so that employees can reference as needed. 

Once your team has been working with your guidelines for a while, you should take notice of what’s working well for your team and what could use some tweaking. If over time your team grows or if certain policies don’t seem to be working anymore then don’t be afraid to create new policies or remove defunct ones.

Create Communication Guidelines

Communication is best done face to face but in a remote working environment it might be difficult to figure out how to have that sort of communication. Unfortunately, you can no longer pop into someone’s office to ask them for assistance or schedule a meeting in the conference room. New channels of communication need to be created and guidelines for when and how to communicate with people should be established. 

For remote work communication, it’s best to find a balance between face-to-face communication through video calls and chat or email. A team doesn’t need to be calling about every little thing but days or weeks shouldn’t go by where team members haven’t had facetime with each other.

Utilize Communication Applications and Collaborative or Productivity Software

Keep your team talking and on track by implementing communication applications like Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, or Slack. Depending on the application you can create chats for specific conversations and for small teams or groups.

In addition to implementing a communication application, it’s important to find a collaboration or productivity software that works with your team’s needs. Software like Asana, Trello, and Monday are all great for getting your team working together. They also help with accountability, transparency, and ensuring that projects get done on time. Some even offer functions like virtual whiteboards so the team can work together to solve a problem.

Daily Huddles and Regular Check-Ins

Depending on the type of work you do, it might be in your team’s best interest to schedule a daily morning huddle and regular project check-ins.

The morning huddle can be a great place to see what’s on everyone’s plate for the day and to ensure that people are focused on the right tasks and projects. 

Regular (weekly, monthly, etc) check-ins for projects between team members and team leads can be beneficial to make sure everything is on track. They’re a great time to see if there are any project-specific concerns that need to be brought up and will allow your team to talk more in depth about a project than in the morning huddle. 

Virtual Hangouts and Events

If you want your team to be close, communicative, and successful then scheduling virtual hangouts and events are great for your culture and your team’s morale. 

It can be a time for people to just hangout and chat, or even an opportunity to participate in virtual team building activities. 

Some great ideas for virtual team building events and hangouts include:

  • A virtual campfire where every team member is sent the ingredients to create their own s’mores (complete with marshmallows, chocolate, grahams and a candle to cook the marshmallows on!). Everyone can take turns playing songs or telling stories…just like a real campfire!
  • Virtual lunches, or coffee breaks
  • Games you can play virtually like trivia, pictionary, bingo etc.

Provide Trust and Safety

In a remote work environment, it can be difficult to gauge how employees are feeling about management and their jobs. Establishing trust and safety for your team from the beginning is important so that issues can be addressed before they turn into problems. 

You can do this by creating the precedent of transparency. If you’re open and honest with your team, then they will be open and honest with you. 

This can be accomplished by having monthly or quarterly company reports, which detail where the company is at. These reports are also great for highlighting company wins and shouting out hard workers or huge accomplishments. 

Another way you can provide your employees with an environment of trust and safety is to have someone they can talk to about work problems or home problems that can affect their work life. 

People that could fill this role include Chaplains. They can be there for the issues that your employees might be wary of coming to you with or just there as moral support or someone to talk to. 

Establish Productivity and Performance Measurement

It can be difficult to know if your work-from-home team is being productive and performing well at home, especially if you’re just now transitioning from in-office to remote. It can be tempting to micromanage every aspect of your team’s day but that would be harmful to morale because it establishes distrust in the team. 

There are ways to measure your team’s productivity and performance while giving them room to do their jobs. As mentioned earlier, adopting a productivity software and establishing clear rules for communication can help you make sure your team is remaining productive in a remote working environment.

In addition to productivity software, implementing regular (weekly, bi weekly, monthly) reports from team members can help you make sure everyone is on track. 

Define Roles and Chain of Command

Creating clear roles and a chain of command can help remove any confusion for your team members and enable them to get their questions and concerns solved in a timely manner. 

Without this structure, your team could likely lose time trying to navigate your company’s hierarchy. With clear roles and responsibilities, employees can navigate their work day without roadblocks, which will leave them with less frustration.

How to Maintain the Culture You’ve Built

Culture is always evolving and what once worked might not work anymore for your remote team. It’s essential to make sure your team knows you’re open to receiving feedback. If a policy isn’t working or if your team doesn’t seem to respond well then you should be open to suggestions and changes. 

Having a Chaplain who is there for your employees will help ease your team into communicating openly and honestly with you and each other. To be productive, your team needs support and Corporate Chaplains of America is prepared to be the support necessary for your company to succeed!

Contact us today to learn more about our corporate Chaplaincy program and how we can help you build a remote company culture!

Is your company culture holding your business back?

Download our informational PDF guide “The Company Culture Advantage” to find out how your team’s culture could benefit from a dedicated Corporate Chaplain.