Developing a Positive Environment for Teleworkers

Even before the outbreak of COVID-19 and the subsequent requirement for millions of people to work remotely, remote work had already been the most rapidly developing section of the labor force. With the number of people now carrying out their duties from home increasing exponentially, businesses have been presented with the challenge of finding a way to guarantee that remote workers are fully absorbing the company’s ethos.

As Millennials and Generation Z began to enter the workforce, the concept of company culture became an increasingly prominent topic of conversation. These new workers were looking for employers who shared their values and goals, leading to the realization that businesses who had a well-defined corporate culture and communicated it effectively to potential candidates were able to hire the most suitable employees. This means that the recruitment process is streamlined, costs are reduced and productivity is increased.

However, when employees are spread out geographically, it might be difficult to foster a strong team spirit. How? Read on!

Get Ready

Creating a company culture is an organic process for smaller, more agile organizations. However, the introduction of new employees and the expansion of operations may lead to unforeseen changes, so it is essential to plan carefully. It is essential to determine and communicate the company’s core values and the standards required of personnel.

  • Tell me about the qualities that make your business unique.
  • Is it a knack for making people laugh or a dedication to excellent customer service?
  • Have you been working excessive hours, or have you tried to strike a balance between work and personal life?
  • Is it necessary to maintain a strict level of professionalism at all times, or are practical jokes sometimes tolerated in the office?

Now is an opportune time to carefully consider what elements of your culture you are most keen to preserve. If you have not already done so, you should begin compiling a list of these aspects. This will make it much easier to impart this knowledge to any new members of staff.

Onboarding

It is often astonishing to observe how frequently this integral aspect of an individual’s career is neglected; namely, onboarding. Who has not experienced arriving for their first day of work to find that no desk, account, or tasks have been allocated? To ensure that time is not wasted, it is fundamental to make sure that a new recruit can promptly begin their role and contribute straight away.

In order to ensure employees are properly and safely inducted into their new workplace, it is possible to complete the onboarding process remotely through webinars or video conferencing. This approach is suitable for both mandatory health and safety briefings, as well as informal conversations with colleagues and management. Additionally, staff have the option to shadow colleagues remotely through the use of screen-sharing features offered by various video conferencing systems.

Onboarding employees successfully relies heavily on setting and effectively communicating expectations. When you hired them, it is important that you provided them with information about your remote work policy, as well as what you expect of them in order to adhere to it. If you are just getting started with remote employees, it is essential that you create a remote work policy that is tailored to the needs of your business and is reflective of your company’s culture. This policy should include details about core hours, the standard of work output expected, health and safety when working remotely, any stipends to support home working, and expectations regarding behavior towards colleagues.

Communication

A successful remote work culture is predicated on effective communication, which is why it is often referred to as the “lifeblood” of remote working. Excessive chatter can be counter-productive and can send the message that you have a lack of confidence in your employees’ capabilities to complete tasks independently. Conversely, if you share too little information, you risk your colleagues feeling excluded and, potentially, having to work without the necessary support.

There are a variety of methods that may be used to improve communication. We suggest at the very least:

  • Email
  • A group chat service like Slack with dedicated channels for each project.
  • The use of video conferencing and screen sharing applications like Zoom
  • A project management app, such as Basecamp or Trello.

It is important that everyone is kept up to date with all of the relevant information, therefore it is recommended to create a communication strategy that outlines the various methods which should be used in different circumstances. Once a job has been completed, it can be marked as such on Basecamp, eliminating the requirement for a Zoom meeting to celebrate the completion. However, it could be beneficial to provide a telephone call to acknowledge the completion.

In order to foster a sense of community amongst a distributed workforce, it is important to not only focus on business-related conversations. Scheduling regular fun get-togethers, such as virtual coffee breaks, is a great way to provide a space for people to bond. Additionally, creating a #watercooler channel on your communication platform can be a great way to give people a few minutes at the start and end of video conferences to socialize and chat about topics such as sports scores, the latest video game or memes.

Cooperation and Understanding Between Teammates

Establishing a collective identity for a distributed team can be more difficult than for a team working in the same physical space. Those who live and work in the same area are likely to have common interests, such as a shared love of a sports team, children attending the same schools, or a regular hangout spot. It may seem like there is more to separate than connect individuals in a team scattered across continents. However, with the right strategies in place, it is possible to create a team identity regardless of physical distance.

Despite the potential challenges, embracing diversity can bring a wealth of benefits, such as increased innovation and a longer-term, more durable impact on products and services. Having a variety of perspectives on a subject can help to ensure the ultimate quality of the end product. The challenge then is how to address the natural biases that people from different cultural backgrounds may have against each other.

The fundamental idea behind this is that members of a team should engage in meaningful dialogue, discovering more about each other’s backgrounds and views. To further foster a sense of closeness, it is suggested that team members take turns holding weekly virtual tours of their homes, or presenting brief overviews of the local area. Moreover, team members can deepen their bonds by engaging in conversations on personal topics, such as family life and other social matters.

Developing a mission statement can be an effective way for your team to identify their shared values. It is highly recommended to hold a team discussion to decide how you want to achieve your objectives. Instead of focusing on outputs, you should concentrate on the values the company stands for – “to organize the world’s knowledge and make it widely accessible and valuable.” It is important for everyone on the team to believe that they can contribute to the success of the company in achieving this aim.

Finally, teams that are close-knit tend to stay that way. Why not establish a team tradition, like organising a virtual happy hour every Friday at 5pm, or taking turns to cover each other’s lunch breaks throughout the week? It’s a great way to mark the end of a successful project, too – why not have a game of Quake or visit each other’s Animal Crossing islands?

Concern for Individuals Is Priority One

At Works, we firmly believe that the individuals you recruit will be the greatest influence on the culture of your organisation. We make it our mission to find talented and friendly remote-ready developers and other technical professionals who will complement the culture of your business. If you are in need of a remote developer, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us right away.

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