It's no secret that a company's culture is one of the most important factors in determining its success. But what happens when you have a remote team whose members have never met in person?
You may be wondering how to create a corporate culture when your team is spread out all over the globe. How can you ensure that everyone is on the same page and working towards the same goals?
Corporate culture increases motivation and efficiency. By setting up clear guidelines for communication and by fostering a sense of community, you can help your remote team feel like part of a larger whole.
Corporate culture affects motivation and efficiency
Competent formation of corporate culture helps to motivate staff, which has a positive impact on productivity and quality of work, and increases the level of interaction with customers. Motivated employees are more efficient and loyal to their employers.
Lack of team spirit is a sign of a poorly developed corporate culture: the interaction between team members only comes down to gossiping, and conversations during smoke breaks, which often manifests itself in the form of unfriendly competition. All this leads to a decrease in productivity, and puts the company at risk of high staff turnover. The retention of disinterested employees results in significant financial losses for both the company and the economy as a whole.
What factors do you need to pay attention to?
Obviously, building relationships between people who are in the same place every day is much easier – gathering office workers to go to the movies or have a glass of beer after work requires minimal planning.
As for the remote team, it is much more difficult to promote elements of corporate culture, although it is possible. The following are factors to consider when planning the corporate culture of a distributed team.
- People are physically unable to meet.
- Not everyone works in the same time zone.
- Some people use a public space for work – coworking or cafes, so they can not speak loudly or actively move around.
- Internet speeds may vary from user to user.
It is advisable to invest in a remote team
Despite the above difficulties, the distributed teams have a number of advantages, including a reduction in overhead and overheads – rent, equipment, workplace, purchase of office, drinking water, etc. In addition, employees who work remotely experience less stress and are generally more satisfied with working conditions. They change jobs less often and work more efficiently. And if the team members are in different time zones, it allows you to provide customer service 24/7 without night shifts and overtime pay.
The analysis of the situation in the labor market shows a tendency to increase the number of freelancers and remote workers. So if you plan to involve “virtual” specialists in projects, you need to offer a business model that meets their requirements.
Rules for forming the corporate culture of remote teams
As already mentioned, this is not easy, but it is worth the effort. Team culture is reflected in professional ethics: how much energy and time a person invests in their work, how friendly they are with colleagues and clients, whether they are able to adhere to established standards without external control.
According to research, remote workers are more motivated from the beginning than their office counterparts. And if you can interest them in corporate values, you will get a really high-class team of professionals. To do this, just follow the simple rules.
1. Conduct a virtual “communication near the cooler”
A cooler (or coffee maker) is the most popular meeting place for office workers who have the opportunity to share news over a cup of tea or coffee. Remote employees should also have space for online conversations on personal topics. Don't just discuss work issues, share news and learn more about each other. In this way, you can not only get useful information about what online tools and methods other employees use but also find common hobbies or interests.
At the beginning of the acquaintance, it will be appropriate to use the practice of “melting ice” – for example, to invite each participant to take a picture of their workplace or view from the window. This will help to start a conversation, and will make communication more relaxed.
2. On occasion, meet in person
Of course, not all team members have this opportunity, especially at the beginning of joint work. However, no online conversation can fully replace real meetings. It is convenient to gather in coworking spaces, where there is high-speed Internet, equipped workspace, and the opportunity for comfortable communication.
3. Come up with team activities that bring you closer
It can be a one-time action – for example, cut a pumpkin together for Halloween. Or more serious challenges: learning yoga poses or running 3 km daily for a month. At the end of the deadline, each participant sums up: how many days he lasted and how many km he ran in total. An important addition – participation should be completely voluntary. Such tasks create topics for conversation, help the team to get a simple common goal.
4. Provide support within the team
American startup Zapier has its own chip: every employee, even in management positions, is on duty in customer support. This approach provides a high level of service, helps the team better understand the company's products or services, and improves the attitude to the work of permanent employees of the department.
While communicating with customers, each employee begins to better understand their problems, and becomes more customer-oriented.
5. Make sure business processes are as transparent as possible
This rule is true for all teams, but it is especially important to follow it when working with remote teams. Each employee should be able to see all available projects, as well as understand who is responsible for what. To do this, there are special sharing programs that allow team members to join the work on the project or make comments.
Transparency in work processes is added by the system for accounting of working hours (a good example is Yaware TimeTracker). The team will know that the effort will be noticed by the management and paid for according to the effort.
Remote work involves a low level of personal communication, but neglecting the development of corporate culture can have negative consequences. So encourage employees to communicate on casual topics, organize joint outings and activities. After all, team members who share the company's values work more productively and care more about the company's reputation.