- Remote workers want to feel connected to their company’s mission, goals, and people; your corporate culture must address that need to retain talent.
- Communicate your company’s values clearly to workers and solicit feedback from them.
- Leverage existing and emerging technologies to enhance collaboration, connection, trust, and productivity.
Just when you thought opportunities might get better for companies, the annual inflation rate in the U.S. jumped from 1.4% in 2020 to 8.5% by the end of July 2022. Compound this with the Great Resignation and you can see how it can become increasingly difficult for businesses to meet goals in an ever-changing, highly competitive environment.
So, how do you increase profitability and productivity while reducing costs and retaining a happy and loyal workforce? How can you make this happen with the rapid growth of people working remotely from home, in decentralized facilities, or in a hybrid environment? Begin by focusing on your corporate culture.
An ideal culture reflects your corporate values and requirements, instills trust, is at the heart of your processes, and motivates workers. People need to feel connected to your company’s mission, goals, and other people — even if they’re thousands of miles away. In fact, in one industry study, nearly two-thirds of employees listed corporate culture as one of the top reasons they either choose to stay with their employer or look for opportunities elsewhere.
According to Larry English, co-founder and president of Centric Consulting, you should treat your culture the same way as you treat your business strategy, which integrates the culture throughout your business.
Workers need insight into your company’s priorities along with their own role and importance to the overall organization. An effective, accepted, and well-understood culture can keep teams more productive. Here are tips for building and sustaining a powerful remote culture:
Identify, communicate, and support your cultural values
Corporate values need to be clearly defined and communicated frequently and in many ways. If you have a customer-is-always-right policy, describe what’s required to support it. If your culture rewards innovation, identify what that means in terms of incentives for presenting and implementing new value-driven processes or products.
“As we communicate a consistent message over time, we can also provide specific examples of how the vision was brought to life,” said Sabina Nawaz, global CEO coach, leadership keynote speaker, and writer, in the Harvard Business Review.
At goLance, one of our strongest cultural values is the importance of teamwork. We encourage people to propose new ideas even when they’re outside the scope of their traditional roles. Team members meet frequently with their global associates to collaborate and focus on common initiatives and are recognized publicly for their achievements.
Retaining talent has been a huge challenge for many companies. In fact, Gartner says this year annual employee turnover will likely jump to nearly 20% higher than its pre-pandemic average. While your management team or HR organization may have certain ideas on what’s essential for retaining a loyal, productive workforce, go directly to your workers, such as via a survey, and identify their priorities.
People like remote work because they prefer flexibility, which can be even more important to them than their hourly rate. If your culture supports this option, reach out to your workers to determine what resources and processes are necessary. If people want to set their own hours, determine how to support their requirements while meeting organizational objectives.
Evaluate what’s working and adapt to change
Although many companies had to make a dramatic shift in office policies since the pandemic, goLance has been a fully remote company from the start, with the infrastructure, communications, and processes in place for this environment. Our culture is based on the philosophy that everyone can be a digital nomad. We support them with open communication, flexibility, and respect. Finding the right person for the job for our team and our customers depends on their skills and performance – not on their location.
The advantages of remote work have encouraged companies to rethink how to support their culture when people no longer want to go back to a long commute to corporate headquarters. Some businesses that previously had a large corporate headquarters have shifted to renting flexible workspaces close to communities where their workers lived, offering the advantages of in-person contact and infrastructure to keep workers happy while also reducing corporate overhead. Others have responded to employee needs to be fully remote or to work in the office only on certain days each week.
Maintain connection through meetings, recognition programs, and virtual events
A culture that encourages connection and recognition can increase worker loyalty, productivity, and satisfaction. In The Role of Connectedness in the Future of Work, the authors describe the importance of helping remote or hybrid workers stay more connected in the workplace: “Show your people that their work is meaningful and connect your people’s jobs to the notion of working toward the greater good. That will help them feel more connected to work and to their coworkers.”
Whether your company is fully remote or offers decentralized options with drop-in offices or flexible workspaces for teams, there are many ways to keep teams connected and motivated. Plan virtual “town hall” meetings where employees can be updated on important activities and results. Be cognizant of the time zones. If you need to present the same content to teams globally, set up multiple meetings. Use a cultural calendar to avoid setting meetings on holidays.
You can also reach out to workers via recorded videos and emails. In addition, consider having purely social gatherings where people join in and are given gift cards in advance to purchase special foods during the events to celebrate achievements.
Leverage technology for collaboration and immersive engagement
People might feel isolated if their team doesn’t respond to questions or recognize their contributions. They can take it personally, even when the cause is due to something totally unrelated to their inquiries. Reinforce the message that everyone’s contribution is valued and provide the technology to help support that objective by making it easier and faster to communicate, eliminating a lot of confusion and problems.
Tools such as Slack and Basecamp enable real-time collaboration so that important messages and feedback don’t fall through the cracks. Google Meet, Skype, Slack, Zoom, and other popular resources can be used to conduct virtual video meetings to keep team members connected and projects moving.
It wasn’t that long ago when the concept of totally immersive 3D meetings — where you can see yourself engaging in the same room as someone thousands of miles away — was an experience out of science fiction movies. A few years ago, I bought Oculus headsets for some team members. When we entered the virtual conference room it gave us the chance to eliminate distractions and meet in one virtual room, without the hassle and expense of traveling to a central location.
Immersive technology will only get much better. In this podcast, Christoph Fleischmann, founder of Arthur Technologies, explains how no matter where you are in the world, you can put on an advanced, mixed-reality headset and feel like you’re in the office. You can experience the positive emotions of being there with your coworkers.
Building a culture based on values that matter to your organization and workers will help businesses retain talent and create an environment that encourages innovation. We’re all becoming digital nomads, and the culture that organizations develop to support us on this journey will continue to evolve to meet future demands.