Ginni Saraswati is the founder and CEO of Ginni Mediaco-founder of The Podcast Accelerator, and host of The Ginni Show.
If there was one bright spot in the coronavirus shutdown, it illustrated how productive and positive a remote workforce could be. Upwork estimates that until 22% of the workforce will be working remotely by 2025. This dramatic shift in how and where people work has prompted business leaders to re-evaluate their corporate culture.
Company culture is an essential aspect of any organization. In fact, it really is what leads to success, speed and retention of some of the best talents. But not every company has a culture that supports its employees and contractors well. A positive corporate culture can be challenging to maintain in the absence of a central, personal office environment. Still, investing in building and maintaining a corporate culture is one of the most effective components to business success, whether you’re in-person, remote, or hybrid.
How a company approaches maintaining a healthy corporate culture involves several factors. Here are five ways companies can prioritize their corporate culture, even if their team members are working from home.
1. Open communication and transparency
Open lines of communication and transparency are critical in a workplace, but even more so in remote work environments. Employees can feel like they’re on an island if leadership isn’t communicating with them.
Leadership must continue to communicate business goals, successes, opportunities and problems with their external workforce. Leadership can achieve open communication through weekly meetings, an active Slack channel, or even face-to-face meetings with all hands if that’s an option. It’s about building a connection beyond the formalities.
2. Trust your employees and avoid micromanagement
Having a remote workforce requires leadership to trust their employees. When it comes to new hires, I like to put all my trust and confidence in them to give room for the new hire to appear exactly as they intend. This helps to quickly establish how long their tenure with the organization will be. And if the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that companies can still be highly productive, even if their employees work from home. Statistics have shown that teleworkers up to 47% more productiveemphasizing that there is no reason for a company not to trust that their remote workers will do their job – and do it well.
Some companies may be hesitant to go “all in” with an outside workforce, so they fall into the trap of micromanagement that drives good talent away from their company. Despite the statistics showing the level of productivity that can come from remote workers, there is still a widespread belief among some that remote workers are lazy, unproductive, or don’t put in their full eight hours. Some leaders who are uncomfortable with remote workers respond by consistently controlling the behavior of remote workers. If you check that your employees are doing their job, instead of giving them space to do their job, there is a much bigger problem with your company culture.
3. Work/life balance
Most employees agree that a healthy work-life balance is important to maintain, especially when working remotely. Companies can enhance that balance in a remote work environment by providing employees with benefits such as generous PTO, reasonable work schedules, and the resources to prioritize self-care.
Employers must provide their employees with the online communication tools and software to organize their workday and effectively report online/offline status. Employees should also feel comfortable taking breaks during the day, just like in the office.
4. Onboarding and Supporting Professional Growth
Onboarding is a series of events that make or break you. If a remote employee’s onboarding process is confusing, disorganized, or doesn’t fall within the job description they were initially sold to when hired, it will be difficult to retain that employee. A solid, organized and welcoming onboarding process is necessary to introduce new employees to the company culture and to ensure that the people you bring in are the right match.
In addition, supporting the professional growth of your external employees is essential. Employee successes need to be recognized regularly, so those who regularly knock it out of the park should know that they have the potential for upward mobility.
5. Keep things fun
Many people have seen companies post job openings that express their culture of “work hard and play hard!” proclaim. This may sound like buzzwords, but a focus on fun can be a boon to a healthy corporate culture. Playing games during company meetings to learn more about our remote colleagues is a great way to break the monotony of regular company meetings. If remote workers live in the same city, hosting happy hours or dinners can give those workers a way to socialize and something to look forward to at the same time.
Working remotely is for the long term. Building a robust remote team requires dedication to the company mission and the realization that a healthy company culture is paramount to employee happiness and retention.