It’s no secret that the last few years have brought with them a tectonic shift: Millions of workers have successfully transitioned from an in-person office culture to one that’s largely remote or hybrid. For those whose roles allow them to work from home or other locations, it’s crucial for their employers and managers to prioritize cultivating a positive workplace culture—even in a virtual setting.
In this article, we’re dishing out six actionable tips you can implement to foster a positive culture within your organization in the remote world
1. Prioritize communication and collaboration.
It should come as no surprise that effective communication is #1. According to a recent Slack survey, 79% of remote workers believe effective communication and collaboration tools are crucial for their success in a remote work environment.
Simplifying your team’s workflow and communication can greatly enhance productivity, build trust and connection, and ultimately boost employee satisfaction and retention.
Consider adopting new workflow software or messaging tools to streamline internal communication. Establish clear communication channels and leverage these tech tools to facilitate seamless communication and collaboration among remote team members. You can also consider new channels or types of communication to suit your remote setup. A great example is a monthly newsletter dedicated to helping your people do their best work—and live their best lives—remotely.
2. Promote work-life balance (for real).
Maintaining work-life balance is essential for employee wellbeing and sustained productivity, and it’s even more important in a remote work setup.
A recent Buffer study found that nearly all (99%!) of remote workers would like to work remotely at least some of the time for the rest of their careers, highlighting the importance of work-life balance in a remote work setup.
But here’s the thing: Too many companies talk about work-life balance (especially during the recruiting process) only to fail to create the space, time and resources to help their teams actually live it. Frankly, the norm is still to talk the talk without walking the walk—a rather unpleasant surprise as new hires settle in and realize they were sold a rosy picture that doesn’t quite reflect reality.
Thankfully, a remote work policy is a wonderful way to give your employees the wiggle room they need to balance work with life, flex their time to meet their family, healthcare or other personal obligations, and have plenty of time off to recharge and come back rested and ready. In many cases, employees might feel more comfortable using their PTO if they’re confident they can keep their work moving remotely before, after, and even during their trip (if they choose and as appropriate for their role, of course) while they’re gone. Talk about a win-win!
Consider establishing a work-from-home policy that allows employees to work remotely as needed. This policy can attract and retain top talent and improve employee morale. Additionally, encourage employees to set boundaries, manage their workload effectively, and prioritize self-care to achieve a healthy work-life balance. This is especially key as the line between work and not-work tends to blur a bit in the virtual world, leaving people distracted by household tasks or feeling like they’re never truly “off the clock.” But with good communication, guidance and resources from leadership, your employees will have what they need to incorporate remote work in a way that’s right for them.
3. Foster team engagement and connection.
Building a sense of belonging and connection among remote team members is also crucial for a positive workplace culture. In fact, a Harvard Business Review study found that employees who feel a sense of belonging in their organization are nearly twice as likely (167%) to recommend their company as a great place to work.
Schedule regular check-ins and virtual meetings to maintain team cohesion, provide support, and build bonds that enhance life at work for all. Avoid the trap of letting the distance make you and your team less communicative less often. Don’t assume that all is well when you don’t regularly hear from your team members. Establish a discipline around truly connecting with your employees to replace those everyday interactions in the office. Consider a good ol’ fashioned video call instead of an instant message or email about a question or issue. Something as simple as an informal, two-minute “face-to-face” can help you and your team feel like you’re in it together, even when you’re physically apart.
Another great way to help your team “gel” and feel connected is to bring them together in person at certain intervals throughout the year. If you’ve ditched your office building and all the overhead that comes with it, perhaps you can reallocate some of those funds for travel, accommodation, an inspiring speaker, or some recreation. This can mean bringing your workers to a centralized location for quarterly or annual planning, all-company updates, industry events, or purely to get to know each other better and play around as a team.
Pick a fun destination city and research group activities in the area. Everything from kayaking, a cooking class, or a sports game can help your people find their work besties, make memories together, and ultimately partner more effectively when work challenges arise.
4. Observe, recognize, appreciate and celebrate your remote employees’ wins.
Recognizing and appreciating remote employees for their contributions is an effective and feel-good way to boost morale and reinforce a positive workplace culture. Unsurprisingly, O.C. Tanner’s Global Culture Report 2022 revealed that 82% of employees feel that recognition at work motivates them to improve their job performance.
This one is simple. After all, who doesn’t love to be recognized, rewarded and celebrated for their hard work and unique talent?
We’re all wired to seek praise and approval—even into adulthood—so make sure that you don’t take for granted the many big and small ways your employees show up for your company daily. Keep a special notepad or file handy for capturing these shining moments throughout the quarter. Then, consider implementing a regular format like a weekly, monthly or quarterly all-team meeting during which leaders and peers alike can elevate these key players to receive the accolades they deserve.
Lastly, remember that the power of regular feedback and performance evaluations can’t be underestimated. Make an effort to provide thoughtful, specific and actionable performance feedback at regular and predictable times throughout the year to demonstrate your investment in your remote team members’ growth, professional development and success.
5. Encourage social connections and virtual interactions.
Creating opportunities for social connections and interactions is essential for combating isolation and building a sense of community. Gallup research shows that remote workers who have a best friend at work are more engaged and productive.
Create virtual team-building activities such as virtual coffee breaks, online games, or shared interest groups to foster social connections and team bonding. Establish virtual spaces for informal conversations, such as virtual watercooler chats, Slack channels, or casual virtual gatherings. Encourage employees to share their interests and hobbies to foster a sense of community and belonging.
It’s also worth mentioning that one silver lining to pandemic-time isolation was the rise of the online gaming party. Consider fun and hilarious activities from Jackbox or check out 15 Fun Online Happy Hour Ideas for Work in 2023.
One last thing: The pandemic also brought on a whole new world of at-home activities for teams to do while “gathered” online. Check out Unboxed, Confetti or these 36 Fun Virtual Event Ideas for Online Socials in 2023.
6. Hire the right people.
Having the right people on your team is not only essential to the success of your company, but also to establishing an appealing company culture. With the right partner in your corner, you can make great hires—people with the skills, experience and personality that make for that just-right fit. With great hires, you can trust the people in your squad to be responsive, reliable, and productive while remote. If you’re tapped into your team in the ways we’ve listed above, you’ll know when someone perhaps isn’t in the right role or has become less engaged. And, you’ll be able to take the right action for you, your team and your company.
At ITAC, we value relationships above all and strive to connect great people with great companies. If you need someone to fill a spot for two weeks, a team of consultants for a critical project, or a key hire for a leadership position, the ITAC team is here to help.
The Future of Remote Workplace Engagement Is in Your Hands
Cultivating a positive workplace culture is key to thriving in the new remote work landscape. By prioritizing effective communication, promoting work-life balance, fostering team engagement, recognizing remote employees, and encouraging social connections, organizations can create a supportive and thriving remote work environment. In many cases, companies are finding that their workforce is even more productive, engaged and successful from home. What a time to be alive!
We hope you find meaning in and have fun with these approaches to improving your workplace and adapting to the new remote work landscape. Remember, experimentation, employee feedback and adjustment over time is key. Remote life is here to stay, so don’t feel like you have to get everything perfect on your first go-round. Give yourself the space to try things out and the grace to stumble along the way. We’re all just navigating these “after-times” for the very first time together. So, remember that expert guidance and support will go a long way toward making this paradigm shift.
Contact the team at ITAC today to help adapt to the new remote work landscape and cultivate a positive workplace culture.