Remote Work Culture: How To Build a Strong Culture for Remote Workers
Establishing a strong remote work culture is integral to your team’s ability to work together seamlessly. These days, such a culture is becoming a standard part of everyday life.
While at one point only a few could afford the privilege of remote work, in 2018, 70% of people globally worked from home at least once per week. Given the COVID-19 pandemic, you can expect that this number has only skyrocketed.
Building and managing remote teams within your company is a challenging but rewarding practice. For some businesses, it’s a way to solve staffing problems while lowering overhead costs. For others, it’s a lifestyle that aligns with company values.
Either way, remote work proves to be a promising way of sustaining your business. Learn more about how to build a strong remote culture for your remote team right here!
5 Pillars of a Strong Remote Work Culture
Remote working is often associated with less structure when it comes to day-to-day operations. But it's quite the opposite.
Distributed teams need to be extremely clear on the roles and responsibilities of each team member. This structure is what ensures the success of the team over time.
A thriving remote work culture helps teams to:
- Perform their best
- Maintain healthy connections between members
- Focus on growth
- Reach mutual goals.
- When all these elements are optimized, you can guarantee success in meeting project goals.
“The best way to create a strong culture for remote teams is to engage with them and find what works.”
Daniel Alcanja - CEO
1. Clear Expectations
Establishing clear expectations is key to a harmonious remote work culture. The structure of remote work may be less organic than that of a physical workplace. But this just means that you should be extra careful to avoid misunderstandings.
Your expectations should not be limited to the outcomes of the project or set key performance indicators (KPIs). Expectations can revolve around interpersonal communications, quality standards, situational behavior, and adaptivity.
These expectations should be made clear to employees during interviews and reiterated when they join the team.
Regular check-ins and follow-ups with your remote employees can be an asset in managing expectations and eliminating miscommunication.
2. Open Communication
Cultivating trust between employer and employee is the first and most crucial step in facilitating open communication. It’s best to provide the team with a safe environment for sharing new ideas and making suggestions.
Team members should never feel the need to silence themselves. A remote work culture, as well as any working culture, should lead employees to feel confident in expressing their opinions.
Another ingredient of good communication is feedback. Feedback should be more nuanced than negative and positive; it should be constructive.
Businesses that welcome and support open communication establish better relationships with their employees and experience greater productivity.
3. Employee Engagement
Employee engagement will benefit your business in the long-term. Keeping your employees engaged in their work will build loyalty and in effect, lead to lower turnover rates.
When remote employees demonstrate enthusiastic involvement in meeting common goals for your business, this encourages a remote work culture of professional growth, creativity, and collaboration.
Team leaders who regularly reciprocate this enthusiasm and recognize the value of their employees will endorse a recurring cycle of employee involvement and employer recognition.
Managers should also strive to help remote employees feel more included. This reflects on another pillar of robust remote work culture – open communication. Inclusive workplaces delegate that every voice is heard. One way to do this is through team rituals or informal chats.
Employees who feel engaged also tend to be more productive, a topic you’ll learn more about further on.
Before you get stumped in the process of business operations, you need to set a goal. A results-oriented approach drives numerous positive outcomes such as:
- Reduced turnover
- Increased work-life balance for employers
- Increased job satisfaction and organizational commitment
- Positive effect on employees’ energy levels and sleep duration
That said, results-oriented work environments don’t imply that there is no process. Rather, team leaders must find a means of measuring progress and track their efforts in order to deliver a successful project.
5. Mutual Trust
Working on a remote distributed team can often feel like a long-distance relationship. Because of this, trust must be the foundation of your team’s collaboration. Several aspects of a robust remote work culture rely on trust.
For example, employers must give their remote teams the autonomy to organize themselves, trusting that they will deliver quality results on time. Employees take this responsibility and work to create the best output they can.
Both parties work towards creating a better workplace where everyone has confidence in one another regardless of the work styles involved.
What Are the Advantages of Working Remotely?
A variety of benefits attract both employers and employees to remote work. Employees can feel comfortable within the confines of their own home or, pre-pandemic, nestling a cappuccino at the nearest coffee shop. Employers can rest knowing that they don’t need to worry about too much overhead.
Advantages for Employees
The advantages of remote work culture for employees usually revolve around having a more lax schedule, ultimately meaning a better work-life balance. Take a look at some of the advantages below.
With remote work, there is no daily commute. The time that employees save every day can be used for both personal and professional development.
Employees are allowed to organize their work duties however they wish. They may decide, for instance, to work during their peak performance times and take breaks during the sleepiest times of the day.
Remote work removes the possibility of office distractions, helping remote employees maintain better focus. This ensures that the time employees spend in front of the screen is well-spent.
Unlike an on-site office, the remote option doesn’t leave much space for managerial supervision. Team leaders must have trust in their employees to work without micromanagement.
Advantages for Employers
For employers, the benefits of remote work are more business-oriented. Employers must make sure all the gears in their business run smoothly from financial management to employee satisfaction. Strong remote work culture is one way to ensure this.
- Cost Reduction
An employer can save an average of $11,000 per year if employees worked together only half the time. This is due to lower or zero costs for office space, utilities, office supplies, etc.
- Employee Wellness
Remote workers are happier and healthier. Employees report being more focused and less stressed. Happier employees mean better business all-around.
- Global Access
Through remote work, employers have the opportunity to invite global talent to join your company no matter where they are located. You can find great additions to your team in lesser-known places and at a more affordable price.
Taking care of the environment is an important step forward for the planet’s long-term sustainability. Working remotely cuts down on the use of single-use plastic cups and food containers, paper consumption, and traffic pollution.
4 Steps to Building a Productive Remote Work Culture
Productivity is another challenge of a remote work environment that requires a bit more attention.
Many business managers fear that the lack of supervision in remote teams will lead to poor organization and project delays. On the contrary, a FlexJobs survey found that 66% of participants were more productive outside of the office.
But challenges related to productivity still occur. While often the employee is somewhat to blame, employers need to be responsible for cultivating a structured work environment that will encourage productivity.
Here are some tips on how to create such an environment.
1. Set Priorities & Goals
Remote work requires a high level of self-organization. Establishing clear expectations will help to avoid any possible confusion related to the deliverables that must be met.
To do this, you must communicate clearly with your team about team objectives as well as how and when they should be reached.
Setting SMART – or specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound goals – is a reliable method of meeting objectives. This ensures that everybody is on the same page.
2. Document Standard Procedures
Standardize and document common procedures to save time on business operations. Research and plan the procedures you need to document to be sure that all necessary information is covered.
Also, make sure the documents explain step-by-step how a certain task is accomplished. These documents can be modified when necessary.
This documentation will give you a jump start when it comes to completing integral but repetitive tasks. In the long-run, this will keep your team more productive.
3. Provide Regular Feedback
Feedback is key to both the professional development of your team members and steady project development. It also helps team members evaluate their performance and adjust themselves accordingly.
By providing feedback regularly, you incorporate this habit into your software development process, making continuous development an indispensable part of your business’s growth.
Feedback should be honest but not insulting. You should try your best to recognize the hard work that your employees have done while also providing helpful suggestions for them to grow. Feedback comes in many forms whether that’s encouragement, praise, or constructive criticism.
4. Centralize Resources & Communication
It’s important to have a hub where team members have easy access to all the resources and communication tools they need to work on the project at hand.
There are many remote tools available through the web where team members and team leaders can collaborate and find information in common. Google Docs, Trello, and Zoom are just a few household names for those familiar with remote work culture.
3 Examples of Companies Growing by Embracing Remote Work
It might seem like the idea of remote work is relatively new. Although it’s true that many more businesses are considering going remote these days as compared to the past, there are quite a few companies that have been doing remote successfully for a good bit of time.
These companies have successfully built their entire framework around the idea of remote work. They are optimizing remote work culture to grow faster than ever and establish themselves as leaders in the current market.
These are some companies that have chosen to go fully remote and are all the better for it.
DuckDuckGo is adapting search engines as you know it to prioritize privacy. Competing with Google is undoubtedly impressive, but it's equally remarkable that they do this with fully remote teams.
Building a cutting-edge online business such as this requires a lot of forward-thinking, both with how you develop your product and build your team remotely. DuckDuckGo seems like a perfect example of remote done right.
By combining the convenience of remote work with the benefits and perks of a traditional full-time job they truly stand out as a phenomenal remote employer.
In a blog post, they detail how they use fun activities and events to maintain a positive and constructive work culture while being remote.
Establishing a defined remote work culture is vital when building a company that is merely online. Whether it's having clear values or ensuring your employees’ voices are heard, this is all part of having a team that enjoys the work they do. Positivity and productivity go hand in hand.
Zapier is in the automation software market. Their firm commitment to user-friendly automation and flexibility with software integrations makes them stand out as a flagship company in their respective industry.
Zapier makes something as complicated as automation remarkably easy, and does so with a remote-based team.
This company takes remote seriously, integrating the idea into its operations by employing over 200 people across a large handful of countries. They even have a guide on how to do remote right.
One lesson is that respecting your digital employees is paramount for running business operations smoothly, as is allowing them to manage their time in a way that makes sense.
Zapier recommends avoiding burnout by establishing a strict start and end time for the workday. Simply put, Zapier is a thought leader in the remote work world and is a good source of inspiration for building a remote-powered team.
Much of the information and guidance that Zapier offers for building remote teams revolve around positive open-ended communication, utilizing the right collaboration tools, and sourcing talent that fits into the structure of your distributed workforce.
3. Ad Hoc
Ad Hoc is a remote-based software house that specializes in digital services for government agencies.
They go out of their way to utilize the advantages of remote-teams to their full potential, recognizing that it's easier to source talent if geographical restrictions are not a factor.
By integrating remote work culture into their business from day one, Ad Hoc has given themselves a clear path to success through the flexibility, results-based work, and diversity that is fundamental to remote teams.
Where some people focus on the challenges of building a remote company, Ad Hoc saw the benefits of using remote work as a critical aspect of their company.
For Ad Hoc, finding people who could adjust well to remote work was crucial. Their written content often advocates for remote work so readers who are hesitant can understand the appeal.
Encouraging their remote employees to nurture their social life through organic and planned means is also important to Ad Hoc. The Ad Hoc Slack uses a ‘Hey Buddy’ tool to connect two employees each week.
Ad Hoc enables its internal organization to be empowered by a remote setting rather than hindered. This is certainly something to strive for when building a company using the remote-first model.
In the coming years, more and more companies will utilize the power of the remote to their advantage.
Because of this, new industries will emerge and old industries will be disrupted. But if you want your business to be part of the new and save financial and resources in the process, consider going remote.
Trio provides services for scaling up a remote-based team in a streamlined way, so you can focus on building your product.
Frequently Asked Questions
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Employees can feel comfortable within the confines of their own home or, pre-pandemic, nestling a cappuccino at the nearest coffee shop. Employers can rest knowing that they don’t need to worry about too much overhead.
A thriving remote work culture involves clear expectations, open communication, employee engagement, results-oriented, and mutual trust.
The four steps to a productive remote work culture are setting priorities and goals; documenting standard procedures; providing regular feedback; and centralizing resources and communication.