There’s plenty of talk online (and on the Jobsity blog!) about the tools and systems you can put in place to make remote work manageable, impactful, and efficient. But what does it mean for your workplace to exist online with the same joy, cohesion, and culture as it once did when you met every day between the same four walls and beneath the same roof?
First off, you have to believe that such a transference of culture is not only possible, but necessary, in order to see the same results and maintain the same worker retention and performance in the virtual space. Many employees love the idea of working from a home office, or from the comfort of their couch, but if in doing so they lose the support of their manager, or the relationships they once relied on for office friendship, and if this happens, they can quickly become less motivated to work hard or work well, and can even become more motivated to look for another employer.
At Jobsity, we know how important it is for people to feel good about their work, and we know that feeling good about your work is just as tied to feeling connected to your workplace community as it is to feeling successful in the completion of your core work tasks. For this reason, we recommend prioritizing remote work culture along four lines: Community, Communication, Training, Tools, Fun.
One of the great risks of remote work is that teams will become fragmented and workers will work in silos. If in a physical office, serendipity and casual encounters brought people together (over the water cooler, in the elevator, around the copy machine) in unplanned and dynamic ways, then these dynamic interactions helped form community, and such community benefited your company culture by increasing employees’ feelings of belonging and human attachment to each other and to the workplace.
Despite the lack of physical proximity, we can’t give up on community when transitioning to remote work. Be creative when envisioning how community feeling can be formed or maintained within your team. Can you create weekly meet-ups where teammates share interests unrelated to work? Would a Slack group for sharing funny GIFs be appropriate? Can you have a “Buy Your Own Beverage” happy hour at the end of the workday on Friday over Zoom? Whatever it is that you used to do before you were a remote team, try to envision a version that will work over Slack, e-mail, or video-chat, and then bring it to life. It might not be the same, but creating a sense of community will help maintain cohesion and a culture of belonging even with physical distance between workers.
When they said “Communication is Key” they didn’t mean in remote work, but they might as well have. Without connecting your team via Slack, a message board, email, Zoom, phone calls, and more, you won’t have much of a team left. Without setting norms, expectations, habits, needs, and shifts clear, your remote team will feel remote...but not like a team. Communication is always paramount to making employees feel connected, included, honored, and needed, but without the ability to wander over to someone’s desk and ask the burning question outright, other virtual systems need to be put in place to allow such channels of communication to flow.
At Jobsity we do a few different things to ensure communication is constant and reliable: we use Slack channels for work projects as well as for team norm-setting, and to share jokes and lighthearted interests; we do weekly “lunch and learn” events where outside and internal speakers join the team to teach new skills and explore topics while we relax and eat; we do training sessions together over zoom; we do coffee Q&As with the CEO whenever he’s available; and we communicate via email, Slack, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and more -- whenever face-to-face time or connection would enhance a professional or human need.
Plenty of (digital) ink has been spilled on the tools that can make remote work, well, work. We won’t recount them all here. But we will reiterate one important point: without giving your team access to the best tools on offer -- and by access, we mean paying for the premium accounts when necessary -- you won’t empower your team to make the most of what remote work can mean. If they are struggling to do what they used to do in person (collaborate, meet face-to-face, hang out in between meetings, form human bonds), then they won’t work as well and team culture will suffer. So don’t be afraid to invest.
It’s all well and good to supply your newly remote team with the best and most functional online tools for collaboration, workflow organization, video conferencing, and more. But if you teammates are left up-stream with all those tools, but aren’t given a paddle...it’ll do no good. It’s paramount that you provide training for your team to help not only ease their transition from location-based to remote, but to ensure they thrive in their new remote capacity. Help them become the best remote worker version of themselves with concrete learning and they will not only be happier, and more productive, but confident, and loyal to boot!
This has always been one of the key guiding values of Jobsity, and we believe it’s what sets us apart from the competition! We have an entire learning site dedicated to providing our team with the most comprehensive up-to-date training that relates to their work, or work they hope to do. And by creating this space for learning, we encourage our teammates to become the best versions of themselves, as professionals and as people!
Finally, just because your team is dispersed doesn’t mean you can't enjoy each other. Intimacy and friendship create healthy workplace culture, and though you can’t have a classic “after work happy hour” in remote workspaces (and even less so with social distancing restrictions) you can and should get creative in bringing your team together either during or after working hours to enjoy each other as people, to laugh, to kid around, and to have non-structured, non-enforced fun. Those who play together, stay together -- not even when you’re remote, but especially so!
We hope these tips have been helpful in guiding you toward reimagining your ‘in person” workplace culture as a remote culture. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to get in touch. Jobsity has been remote for almost a decade, and we are always happy to share tips and suggestions, and to hear them from you as well!
Interested in hiring talented remote developers to add capacity to your team? Drop us a line! Jobsity is the nearshore staff augmentation choice for U.S. companies.