Having your team remain working from home might make sense. However, maintaining cohesion, productivity, positivity and connection – all hallmarks of a good company culture – are challenging when your team is virtual.
So, what to do? Communication is the key, especially in a remote work environment.
Here are 5 communication tips for helping you maintaining a solid, positive workplace culture, even when your team is working from home:
1. Spell out your mission, purpose and policies: In order for people to navigate an at-home working environment, it is important to make sure that every person on the team understands your mission is, what their role is, and why they are vital to the business and that mission.
Reviewing the business’ purpose should be a valuable exercise. For newer employees, it can be the type of reinforcement they need to be able to keep the faith and do their job when there is little physical support structure in place. And for the seasoned employees, it can be a good reminder for those who may have become a bit jaded, or forgetful of the company’s goals.
Additionally, sending out a list of company policies and procedures can reinforce your rules and expectations, and give guidelines for operating while working remotely. These things can add to a culture of transparency and, by giving your employees the information they need, can encourage clear communication.
2. Weekly Zoom or Skype group meetings: Another good way to encourage clear communication is by hosting weekly video chats. While you can’t meet in person, Zoom, FaceTime, Skype, or another service can provide an excellent way for your staff to meet and discuss what is in store.
During this time, you can ask your employees if they have any questions or concerns, and create goals for the upcoming week, month, or quarter. This is a great way to create that human connection.
3. Schedule regular 1:1 time: Making sure you meet face to face is important to relationship building and camaraderie in any office setting – but probably even more so when it comes to working remotely. Setting up specific times for video one on ones allows employees to feel like their individual voices are being heard and matter. It also allows for the manager to give feedback and constructive criticism.
These meetings can and should also occur for small work groups. Giving your teams weekly facetime can ensure needed collaboration, discussions and transparency.
4. Provide avenues for socialization: When it comes to creating camaraderie and culture, not only is providing space to communicate about work important, but equally vital is providing time for your employees to socialize, albeit virtually. It is incumbent upon management to re-create the water cooler online. Many organizations do this by using Slack channels where employees can chat and discuss things outside of the organization.
Additionally, some companies set up game nights, remote exercise lunches, and similar events to get employees to stay active and involved. While the office doesn’t exist in the physical right now, creating online events and places where people can be social is an important tool for maintaining good employee relations and company morale.
5. Ask for feedback and adjust accordingly: Last but not least - ask your employees for feedback! You can do this during Zoom calls, one-on-one chats, and you can even create an inbox where employees can leave suggestions and feedback anonymously.
Then respond to the feedback and adjust accordingly. Listened to employees are happy, empowered employees. This in turn fosters a culture of constructive criticism, corrective behavior, and employee empowerment for your small business.
Suggested Reading: Why You Should Ditch Annual Reviews and Create an Employee Feedback Loop
Creating a positive culture remotely is challenging, yes, but no less possible than in a physical setting – if you are creative and communicative.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest, The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can also listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success.© Steven D. Strauss
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