“Company culture is the personality of a company.” – jobsearch.about.com
A simple, understandable definition; yet, it doesn’t portray the importance of company culture. Company culture encompasses goals, vision, mission, values, beliefs, employees, and relationships. As Trinet explains:
“An organization’s culture may be one of its strongest assets or it can be its biggest liability. The reason culture is so important is that its impact goes far beyond the talent in the organization; it has significant influence on the organization’s goals. Culture drives or impedes the success of an organization. With culture impacting the talent, the product, the clients as well as the revenue, why would a company not measure, review and intentionally nurture something so important and critical to its success?”
William Craig, contributor of Forbes, believes that the most important aspects of company culture is that: “[it] is something that is pre-existing in your company’s genetic code; it’s not something that employees bring with them.”
“Environment” (in terms of the actual physical space) has been considered as a key characteristic of a strong company culture. However, with employees demanding more flexibility and businesses adopting remote work strategies, company culture can no longer rely so heavily on work environment.
With physical space out of the equation, the non-tangible aspects of company culture have become more important than ever.
One of the biggest issues facing remote teams is that remote team members tend to work by themselves. Part of a company’s culture is how its employees and employers interact and work together; when work gets done by everyone in the same place, interaction happens easily and naturally. When, as is the case with remote teams, work gets done from different places and times, it’s harder for interaction to flow among all members constantly.
But, as Bryan Miles, CEO and Co-Founder of BELAY has rightly stated, “the challenge of cultivating a cohesive company culture when there’s so much distance between your employees … it can be overcome.” The key to overcoming this challenge, according to Miles, is “to be intentional. In the simplest terms, all it means is don’t expect culture to create itself.”
How to Build and Nurture Company Culture
Companies with remote teams need to provide the necessary tools and platforms for all workers to be connected and in sync. It’s about creating the right environment (even digitally speaking) in which workers can share topics they are interested in, hobbies; a digital ‘place’ where they can connect to when they need a break or just some distraction while still; a platform that adheres to the company’s values, beliefs, and ethics.
Introduce New Team Members
Whenever a new member joins the team, make sure you go through a well-established on-boarding process. Introduce them to everyone else, let them know who does what and who to contact for different types of queries, etc. It’ll help the new member feel more comfortable and get familiar with the rest of the team and internal communication won’t change by having the new person on board.
Provide Members with Necessary Equipment
Provide remote workers with the necessary equipment for them to be able to carry out their jobs satisfactorily and successfully. From laptops, to phones, to internet, make sure that they have access to whatever it is they need; not only will this motivate them to do their best, you’ll be able to guarantee that they’re accountable for their work.
Have Regular Calls and Video Calls
Emails and messages are a good way for fast communication, but they’re not the best way to relate to one person. Calls and video calls make communication more personal than email and messages; it’ll help team members get to know each other and learn to read a bit better how other team members feel and think–try as many may, deciphering tone on emails and texts is quite hard, as they all appear to be quite dry in essence.
Use Collaboration Apps & Technology
Slack, Asana, Skype, GoToMeeting, these are all apps that help remote teams work together and maintain the flow going. Theses all provide a great way to keep everyone in the loop of what’s being worked on, how it’s moving forward, and they’re great tools to keep communication open.
One on One Meetings
Some people don’t mesh well in groups and when others are present, so make sure you keep constant one on one meetings (every other week or once a month) with every team member to go over their work, provide them feedback, and make sure that overall they’re doing well. It’s a way to bond with team members on a more personal level and learn more about who they are outside of their work, what they value, and what’s important to them.
Though technology can be great at bringing together people that are physically far apart, it’s still necessary and important for team members to meet in person and talk face to face every now and then. Even if all members can’t make it, you should still aim to have a meeting or event at least once a year where the majority of team members can go to and get to know each other.
There’s a reason “honesty is the best policy” is such a popular saying. When working with remote teams, make sure you’re transparent about company processes, procedures, and finances in order to make them feel comfortable and a part of the company. Being transparent is a great way to share with members the values that are important for the companies and it’s a good way to set up an example of what you expect from your team at all times.