Maybe your business is like thousands of others and suddenly finds itself swimming in uncharted waters. To put it mildly, the coronavirus pandemic has turned everything upside down. But as people try to make the best of it and remain healthy and productive, many companies are struggling to maintain their culture and identity as they learn how to incorporate remote workers.
Thankfully, I have some good news on that front. Your team of employees now working from home rather than your normal, cozy work environment can still embody and drive your company's culture and ethos. And to help you get started, I'm going to impart some of the lessons we've learned here at Creative Cave as part of our ongoing series on the topic. Remember, just because your team might be in different locations or even time zones right now doesn't mean you can't have a robust culture that serves as the glue every organization needs to thrive.
1. Revisit Your Company's Values & Goals
Things are definitely crazy right now, no doubt about it. Given the circumstances, it seems like an ideal time to revisit your company's goals and values, maybe as a touchstone to help your remote employees adjust to this new sense of normal. But even before this COVID-19 crisis came knocking on everyone's door, your values served as an essential footing for your culture. That notion hasn't changed, even when it seems like everything else has.
If you haven't done so already, use this as an opportunity to put pen to paper – or maybe fingers to keyboard – and write down your organization's values and any other integral components of your company's culture. If this recent turn of events has somehow changed your values or goals in some way, be sure to include those thoughts as well. This exercise is different than writing your mission statement or vision since it's more about the building blocks and collective personality of your team rather than a strategy or growth curve.
Once you're done, share the document with all of your remote employees and ask for their input. Make it a living, breathing testament to what your company's about and how the sum of your workforce is greater than its parts.
Now, is that a bit clichéd and dangerously close to generic corporate-speak? Absolutely. However, making this a team exercise rather than a message from on-high will personalize the process for everyone involved. Obviously, this concept isn't exclusive to remote teams but might be especially helpful if your people are new to working from home, any new hires, or anybody that was onboarding when the figurative sky started to fall.
2. Emphasize Clear & Open Communication
Effective communication is vital to any successful organization and under any circumstances. However, given the additional stressors of potential health issues, financial worries, homeschooling, and everything else the quarantine life entails, open lines of communication are absolutely critical for a company's success right now.
This is an area where, as I previously discussed, technology can play a pivotal role. Between messaging apps like Slack and Hangouts, good old-fashioned SMS and FaceTime, and video-conferencing tools like Zoom and Skype, businesses aren't lacking for real-time, convenient, and cost-efficient options to keep communication a wide-open highway.
To that point, use these platforms to create regularly-scheduled check-ins with individual workers along with team meetings, weekly standups, and meetups between employees to establish a sense of teamwork and camaraderie. Also, since everyone is working from a home office, it might be a good idea to enforce a video chat-only rule so that everyone can see each other's smiling, shining faces and pearly whites. Audio conferences might work just fine with clients or customers, but when it comes to your team, face-to-face communication is essential to reinforce the fact that you're all in this together.
3. Monitor Your Employee Engagement
With so much going on right now, it's tempting to skip a few corners here and there, especially if you're struggling to keep customers happy or, in extreme cases, meet payroll. However, as countless studies have proven in the past, improved employee engagement correlates directly with a healthier culture, which, in turn, drives innovation, productivity, and growth.
Now I'm not saying that this is the perfect time to purchase an advanced employee engagement platform or anything of the sort. With so much up in the air right now, though, keeping at least a semi-accurate pulse on your team is vital. Google Forms gives you a free but effective way to send out brief surveys that can reveal what's on your employees' minds. This way, you can monitor how well the transition to remote working is going for your team, if there's anything you need to improve, and allow them to share new ideas with you.
Above all else, fostering inclusiveness that takes everyone's perspectives, concerns, and issues into account is crucial to maintaining a healthy team culture. It's far too easy for an individual to feel as if they're slipping through the corporate cracks when suddenly removed from their normal work routine. But if you take these remote culture tips to heart and remember that all of your team members are experiencing the same sense of fear and frustration, you're far better equipped to maintain or even build on the culture you've put so much effort into. And along the way, your favorite inbound marketing specialists and website design gurus will continue to share the remote working best practices we've picked up over the years.