Cheerful employee is waving at the camera on his laptop while having a video call sitting at his work station in casual clothes.
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5 ways to maintain your workplace culture remotely

30 Mar 2020

Hays’ James Milligan outlines five steps managers should take to ensure the company culture they have built doesn’t fall by the wayside while working remotely.

The world of work is operating more remotely than it ever has before in light of current circumstances and, as a result, employers may be facing new challenges when managing their organisations remotely.

Remote working can sometimes create obstacles to communication, collaboration, relationship building and accessibility, which may result in an impact to workplace culture.

To counteract these, I encourage employers to consider these five things that will help them maintain their workplace culture while working remotely.

1. Think about how you’re communicating

When managing your team remotely, effective communication is crucial. As a priority, you should establish frequent communication to your team via the right platforms. Take advantage of the variety of channels available to help your team stay in touch and collaborate, but bear in mind that operating over too many different channels can become confusing.

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I’d recommend that employers communicate over video where they can, which is the next best thing to talking face-to-face. Just as you would with a physical meeting, set an agenda prior to the call and make sure this is visible to everyone as this will help you communicate more efficiently.

As these calls are now your equivalent to team meetings, make sure that your team understands the importance of attending. If you are having issues with attendance or lateness, perhaps point out the benefit of these calls in keeping everyone in the loop, celebrating successes and progressing collectively as a team.

2. Make time for small talk

Working remotely makes you realise how many impromptu interactions you have in an office to catch up with your colleagues. These moments may seem somewhat insignificant at the time, but they go a long way to building rapport and fostering working relationships. It’s particularly important for any new employees who still might be settling in and getting to know their colleagues.

In light of this, as part of your communication strategy, I’d recommend factoring in time for your team to make small talk so they can build or maintain their relationships.

If you don’t video call regularly, you could still facilitate this by using instant messaging apps such as Yammer or Slack and proactively asking your team how they are at a time when it won’t interrupt any discussion about work.

3. Exchange ideas

Another aspect of your workplace culture which may need attention when working remotely is the sharing of knowledge and ideas. Many of your team will possess specialist knowledge about their area or subject that is easily shared in an office, but may not come as naturally working remotely.

To get around this, think creatively. You could encourage your employees to create guides, host webinars or record podcasts on their specialist subjects to provide opportunities to share their knowledge and also get an insight into what others in the team are working on.

Ensure to follow this up with praise and recognition that will encourage your team to continue.

4. Monitor team morale

Unless you’re new to managing your team, you probably know your colleagues fairly well and therefore can read their emotions and reactions when with them in person. So, where possible, use video calls so you and your team can see each other and therefore engage more than you would over the phone.

However, if you aren’t using video or do find yourself disconnected to your colleagues, try to place more attention to their tone of voice to gauge how they’re feeling. Try to also use and encourage inclusive language such as ‘we’ and ‘our’ to foster cohesion and unity.

These measures should help you stay aware of your colleague’s morale while they are working remotely as some people will inevitably need more support than others.

5. Trust your colleagues

Although working remotely may pose obstacles to your company’s workplace culture, by placing your trust in colleagues you manage there is a lot to gain.

Trusting your team will mean they feel empowered to work in the interests of your organisation and stay motivated to do their work day-to-day. They’ll also be able to experience the flexibility benefits that come with working remotely. If this arrangement is new to your organisation, know that you can still successfully manage your team and monitor their workload while making them feel trusted and valued.

While working remotely, you want to get to a place where culture influences mindset. When you achieve this, location no longer matters and you’ll be able to manage your team while maintaining your company’s workplace culture.

By James Milligan

James Milligan is director for technology and project solutions in the UK, Ireland and EMEA at Hays.

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