Regardless of what the careers sites of some employers tell us, culture is more than just foosball tables and free snacks. In reality, it’s a culmination of several factors, including collaboration, environment, values and mindfulness.
Of course, culture can be more easily cultivated within your own environment, whether that’s through graphics adorning the walls, team get-togethers, or in-office perks. However, with the UK currently experiencing a sudden second spike of the coronavirus, getting all employees back to the office is firmly off the table for the foreseeable future.
The question is, what can employers do to create an environment of positive behaviour and grow company culture with a remote team?
Establish or bolster your values
Having a clear set of values that everyone lives by is crucial to maintain a corporate culture. Even if you already have values in place, it’s worth revisiting them to ensure they reflect the world we live in today. For example, for remote working to be truly effective, there must be collaboration, so perhaps this needs to be added. Additionally, a lot of people are anxious for a variety of valid reasons, so adding a value around ‘support’ could go a long way in helping to reassure employees that you’re looking out for them and their wellbeing.
If you are looking to re-write your values, ensure the whole team is involved in the process. It will help to highlight what’s important to them right now and further reinforce each value so that it’s front of mind.
Share positive news
It’s easy for remote workers to get their head down and spend days not communicating with their managers or colleagues. Such an approach to work isn’t healthy and could result in your business taking on a ‘faceless’ quality with people feeling more like freelancers than staff.
Try regularly sharing positive news about the company, individual achievements in the team, or industry news and opinion-pieces that might be of interest. Take it beyond strictly work-related comms too and start more lighthearted discussions involving everyone. It may sound obvious, but such an approach is crucial to avoid siloed working and ensure company culture is maintained during this period.
Team chats are great, but employers must maintain personal connections with everyone. It’s only by speaking to people alone that you’ll be able to gauge how they’re feeling and address any concerns they may have. Ensure these catch-ups happen regularly to reinforce the employer/employee dynamic and avoid workers slipping into ‘contractor’ mode.
As well as allowing employees to talk through anything on their mind, use the opportunity to discuss what’s going on in the business, the next steps with regards to returning to work and why their role is pivotal. There’s bound to be concerns around job security, even if your company is in a strong position, so employees require regular reassurance.
Don’t underestimate the power of branding
At the moment, many employees will be working in their living rooms or even bedrooms if they live in shared accommodation. It can, therefore, be difficult for them to truly get into ‘work mode’ and feel like they’re actually ‘at work’. Consider sending out branded items that will be of use while they’re at home to help them set up their home office. Even something as simple as a mug or water bottle that carries your company logo can go a long way in maintaining a connection with the business.
Get feedback, make improvements
An easy way to find out how employees feel about company culture is to ask them. Conduct surveys, hold group calls and ask them during their one-on-ones about how engaged they feel with the business and what you can do to improve it.
They may want to connect more with the wider team or be involved in group projects. Or perhaps they’re struggling to separate work life from home life, which could mean changing shift times to offer more time in the evening or an extra day off in the week. You won’t know if you don’t ask.
Help is at hand
As we look towards 2021, our free Great Expectations eBook examines some of the tough questions candidates will be asking employers about how they handled the pandemic.
Download your copy today.