We won't teach you anything by saying that strong work culture is key to attracting, engaging, and retaining people. Some even say that a company's culture is one of its most valuable assets.
A strong company culture gives teammates a sense of purpose and motivation, increases productivity, and makes people less likely to quit.
According to a Glassdoor survey, 56% of team members prioritize a healthy workplace culture over salary. Although most companies recognize this, very few have been able to maintain a company culture that was as good in person as it is remotely.
Let’s see why remote work culture can be challenging, what you need to do to promote it, and seven ways to help it flourish within your company.
Challenges With Remote Work Culture
After the pandemic, four times as many people started working from home than before it. However, few companies managed to make their remote work could as good as their in-office culture. That is to be expected as it requires an entirely different mindset.
1. Lack of Spontainoius Social Interactions
Company culture tends to be strong in teams with frequent social interactions in physical offices - through morning coffee chats, team lunches, or greeting a colleague in the hallway. These small opportunities to engage with team members allow team members to build genuine bonds and connections with teammates they may not interact with daily, providing a sense of belonging.
2. Ineffective Tools for Team Communication
Companies freshly transitioning to remote work may attempt to maintain their company culture by replicating all physical activities through Zoom meetings or "informal" Slack/Microsoft Teams channels. These platforms, however, are primarily designed for work-related structured collaboration and communication.
They were never built for team members' engagement and, as such, failed to recreate the camaraderie of being together in person.
Existing platforms are primarily designed for work-related structured collaboration and communication. They were never built for team member engagement and, as such, failed to recreate the fellowship of being together in person.
3. Lack of Real Connection
Company culture has quickly eroded without a true alternative to in-person interactions as remote work has become the new norm. 53% of people working remote feel less connected to their colleagues, and 1 in 5 feel lonely in a remote work arrangement.
In addition, 45% of team members have considered leaving their current company because of these challenges. Remote company culture cannot be ignored if companies want to survive--and thrive--in the new normal.
How to Build A Better Remote Work Culture
The first step to building a remote work culture that is enjoyable yet productive and not intrusive is recognizing that not everyone socializes in the same one. For example, what may work for engineers may not work for salespeople.
To help remote teams build a great virtual company culture, we looked at the hundreds of interactions in the office and tried to bring the most important ones within a virtual space.
By allowing teams to engage with the right mix of work and social activities, everyone benefits from working remotely. Still, they also do so in an enjoyable, fun, and fulfilling way!
7 Ideas to Start Creating a Thriving Remote Work Culture
Building a successful remote work culture is more than selecting the right online tools or doling out perks. Instead, companies need to create an environment that helps team members feel as connected to their colleagues as their companies.
That is key to helping team members achieve their personal goals and the company vision. Here are a few practical ideas to get you started:
1. Bring Your Teams Together to Cowork
Back in the "real world," you'd be able to tap your colleague's shoulders and ask them a quick question. That was great for quick and effective problem-solving. We tend to find innovative solutions to complex issues by talking things out, and the more we tall, the more innovative solutions we can come up with.
Working remotely has removed our ability to hold these frequent quick bursts of interactions, resulting in a more significant disconnect and silos within teams. But, on the flip side, it's had a positive impact on individuals' autonomy and performance.
Although building a strong remote work culture requires more than a few initiatives, starting with frequent coworking and more frequent quick conversations can show surprising benefits.
By coworking with your teammates, you will be able to promote tap-on-the-shoulder moments to stay connected and aligned. At the same time, every single person has the flexibility to get in and out of the space, dependent on bandwidth. That allows people to support and feel supported – even more accurate for new joiners – without hurting productivity.
2. Enable Casual Social Conversations
Coffee chats or "watercooler" conversations are much more valuable than we first thought. Connecting with teammates personally, such as sharing what your baby did over the weekend or how you are feeling, builds rapport and empathy - which are critical to good working relationships.
These interactions that used to happen naturally ceased to exist in a remote environment. That has led to an increase in feeling isolated and lonely when working remotely.
With Kosy, you can create a social lounge where people working remotely can catch up and have hearted conversations. Time in the social lounge can be even more engaging by launching icebreakers or your favorite two truths and a lie game!
3. Encourage Real-Time Communication by Video
Communicating online misses a lot of important elements of conversations that we take for granted in person, like the tone of voice, visual cues, and body language. That can make effective collaboration difficult. In addition, long email chains are inefficient if the same result can be achieved through a quick discussion.
Encourage team members to interact on video as often as possible.
For example, some companies have released video-first policies that encourage team members to interact first by video. If the video doesn't work, you could try a call, a chat message, or email as a last resort. That may be uncomfortable for the first few weeks, but it significantly pays back at scale.
Also, try diversifying your remote meetings to be more engaging and entertaining.
4. Create Opportunities to Work Across Departments
When working remotely, teammates tend to work in a silo and rely more heavily on their direct teammates. Although sometimes uncomfortable, chance encounters such as spending a 5-minute elevator ride with a colleague from another department are gone, removing the opportunity to create bonds across departments.
To ensure cross-functional collaboration, find ways to encourage team members to get involved together. For example, invite a salesperson to your weekly product roadmap meeting or marketing campaign brainstorm.
Better yet, invite team members from other departments to participate in job candidate interviews. These exchanges will create stronger team bonds and encourage new perspectives that increase creativity.
5. Create After-Work Events that People Look Forward To
We've all been in a boring virtual event where we were half paying attention to a teammate rambling and a half browsing the web. We've grown tired of the monotony of Zoom calls for the workday and don't want to have another one for social purposes.
Instead of conducting events on the same video conference platform used for basically every virtual team meeting, you can try to create a social calendar with a variety of activities and events across different platforms.
For example, organize a speed-dating one on 1, an escape game, or bring in someone from your network that you know is interesting to give a TED Talk presentation. Following this session, organize a virtual happy hour where your team can discuss the event or catch up.
6. Provide Access to Company Leadership and Management Team
Be intentional about giving team members time and access to engage with your CEO and top management team. Create transparency about your company's future and reserve time for team members to ask questions, crowdsource solutions, and drill down into points of interest.
An open-book approach has the power to create a high level of trust and provide value-driven autonomy. For example, at Kosy, we've seen CEOs jump between coworking spaces to welcome new hires and have quick chats with various team members.
7. Create Intentional Space for Celebration
Celebrating positive moments together is still important for remote teams. The equivalent of the gong in physical offices when a new deal is signed or popping a champagne bottle is harder to replicate when working remotely.
Creating virtual spaces and rituals for celebrations and socializing can strengthen relationships and make teams closer and more collaborative.
At Kosy, one company made it a habit for top leadership to personally congratulate any significant milestone or deal. Creating moments where you can celebrate successes and promote social connection is essential and will do wonders for team morale.
For More Information About Remote Work Culture
Remote work is here to stay. We’ve realized that ages ago. If you want your company to prosper, you need to realize it too, try to adapt, and cultivate your remote work culture.
Of course, you can’t do that without any help. Luckily for you, here at Kosy, we strive to help remote teams be happy, connected, and productive.
Our virtual office platform is built to recreate the social interactions teams are craving. Try Kosy for free today to see how a virtual office can help.