The best leaders create strong team cultures by fostering relationships through open collaboration, focused communication, and the celebration of team successes – but how can that still be accomplished when working remotely? How can you, as a leader, continue to extend and protect that same culture in a remote environment? Whether you are just testing the waters, got pushed in unwillingly as a victim of circumstance or are already swimming in the deep end and just trying to perfect your strokes, below are the five absolutes for creating a powerful team culture when running your business remotely.
- Hire the Right People
You guessed it. Building and maintaining a winning culture still starts with hiring – hiring the right people at the right time will always be critical, as an organization’s people are the single biggest contributors to culture over time. Every time an employee joins or leaves an organization, the culture will shift as a result of their personality, ego, expertise and communication style, which is why the value placed on emotional intelligence is continuing to rise. In a remote environment, the majority of communications will take place via textual mediums (email, chat, etc.), meaning that emotions are difficult to convey and often cause intentions to be misinterpreted. Hiring for EQ in addition to IQ ensures that your employees have empathy and understanding, both of which are critical when working in a distributed team. One of the biggest benefits of remote work is that it deepens the talent pool and enables organizations to pursue top-tier talent by eliminating the regional restrictions or relocation requirements associated with traditional onsite and in-office work environments. As a result, the abundance of skilled workers that remote employment options offer lets organizations focus on hiring good fits for the company culture instead of hiring purely for skill.
- Set the Expectations
Always treat employee onboarding as an opportunity to instill your company culture. This cannot be stressed enough. For a new employee joining the fold in a remote environment, onboarding is the first real introduction that they will have to an organization’s core mission and values. If it is quick and organized, that speaks volumes to the organization’s values around employee success, communication, and process management. If, on the other hand, it is complex and requires trying to track down people they have never met… well, you guessed it again. Organizations only get one shot at this, so they need to make it count. This is also an opportunity to utilize training as a success tool. Remote organizations can incorporate a combination of technology, resource distribution, team introductions, access provisioning, and guided walkthroughs to help their new employees get up to speed quickly.
- Ready the Remote Environment
Before you jump off the high dive, make sure there is water in the pool! The most important aspect of successfully building a remote culture is your environment and its readiness to facilitate remote work. Launching remote operations could take extensive planning depending on your organization’s system complexities. Assess your organization’s needs to better gauge the amount of preparation needed to begin working remotely with success. For most organizations, this often begins with remote tool demos and product selections. There is now an endless number of providers to choose from that are all similarly designed to help remote workers communicate effectively and collaborate efficiently. The most important questions to answer with culture in mind when navigating this sea of products are as follows:
- Is this product/tool easy to use and configure?
- Is there a dedicated channel for important announcements and formal vs. informal communication?
- Are there Video-conferencing capabilities so I can see my team as needed?
- Is there a place to organize all of our files and documents?
- Is there a way to set goals and recognize my employees?
- Does the product value privacy and security in protecting my organization’s data?
At this point, it is highly likely that a number of tools will be required in order to support your remote environment as each has shortcomings in terms of the features or capabilities offered with most organizations already leveraging around 10 different applications in order to run their business.
- Hold People Accountable
So you have hired the right people, onboarded them effectively and immersed them in your culture using the remote tools that you have selected. Now what? Hold them accountable. Setting clear goals and providing incentives gives your employees an obtainable target to shoot for in the short-term while outlining the awards that they can expect to receive for hitting that target. Couple that with detailed status updates and progress tracking for projects to develop your own recipe for accountability. By defining the boundaries upfront around what is acceptable and then providing transparency surrounding the decision-making, it helps understand those criteria and further buy into the overarching values and mission.
- Use Feedback for Refinement
Up until this point, let us assume you have done everything right. How do you perpetuate the culture that you have successfully created going forward? The answer is simple – Feedback. By providing timely feedback to your team on their performance and celebrating successes through recognition, you can continue to motivate both individuals and teams alike. This requires constant encouragement and consistency in both one-on-one and team format meetings as a way to continue building individual connections while fostering an overall sense of community engagement.
Are you still searching for products that meet your needs?
Now that you have the roadmap to create the right culture in a remote environment, you will need a vehicle to get you there. Check out Huddle Up – a social-style team resource management (TRM) platform designed to take the work out of quickly getting your entire organization up and running remotely. There is also an interactive News Feed, similar to Facebook, where leaders and employees alike can engage with the entire team. It was built with an organization’s culture in mind and solves the most common challenges outlined above. While Huddle Up can’t hire people for you, it can help you streamline the onboarding process. It enables leaders to quickly invite new employees and to provide all of the onboarding materials to get new employees up to speed. With expectations set, hold your team accountable by using the “goals” feature or the “incentives” feature to motive performance. In world of over saturated team-solution software, Huddle Up is the only social-media style interface that allows teams to get things done while fostering a sense of community and culture.