How Can a Leader Build and Maintain a Remote Work Culture?
| 6 minutes read
Team and organizational culture is something that must be crafted carefully, especially in a distributed workforce.
Until 2019, we might not have heard much about the remote work culture, but companies have started adopting the culture, especially after the COVID-19. Although at the beginning, things were easy for managers and employees later, it has been observed that remote working culture was not easy because it started to impact the majority’s life cycle. How can a company build and maintain a remote working culture with its employees and managers if there is an emergency?
We all know that the workplace culture is crucial, yet for many leaders, culture was an exquisite idea best left for the folks in HR to worry about. However, tech-savvy leaders have long recognized that culture could make or break their teams’ long-term ability to perform at a high level. A focus on culture became crucial, especially during the pandemic, because it is the primary challenge for everyone to work together on the same note with their teammates.
Concerns about culture were simple to leave by the wayside as we responded to more pressing concerns, yet we have seen surprising variations in multiple agencies and team cultures. As someone who previously visited and interacted with numerous organizations in their physical offices, we know the remote culture also brings out some opportunities. You can even now communicate with a large group of companies and teams over Zoom call or Skype. Working remotely has been treated as a bit of a monolithic activity, yet there are surprising cultural shades among various companies that are worth understanding and actively mentoring in your own organization.
Hello, Welcome to UnboxingStartups; today, we will give some remote work culture ideas to help your organization. It will provide a direction to a leader; how can he lead during the crucial phase?
Also Read: How to Manage Team and Time- A Leaders Short Guidebook
The WHO (World Health Organizations) had issued a statement and said that COVID-19 would stalk the human race for a long time to come. We are not scaring you; we just want you to prepare your organization and try to develop the solution for your organization.
Here are five tips for building a remote work culture.
- Foster Trust Through Robust Communication
- Use Suitable and Secure Communication Channels
- Be Active in Resolving Conflict
- Simplify Roles, Responsibilities of the remote workers
- Set Boundaries
Before we move ahead, here are the statistics (Remote Work) you should know.
- 40 percent of people feel the greatest benefit of remote work is the flexible schedule.
- 16 percent of companies exclusively hire remote workers.
- Companies allowing remote work have 25% lower employee turnover than those that don’t.
- 76 percent of workers would be more willing to stay with their current employer if they could work flexible hours.
- People who work remotely at least once a month are 24 percent more likely to be happy and productive.
- The number of people who work from home has increased by 140 percent since 2005.
- 4.3 million people in the USA work from home at least half the time.
Note- The figures might change later.
1. Foster Trust Through Robust Communication
In a virtual environment, building culture starts with building trust. When your team trusts each other, things go easy, and you begin to work together for the common goal. Trusting in relationships is the backbone of cultures that demonstrate open and honest communication. In short, trust is extremely important to team success.
In several cases, virtual communication strips context and nuance from conversations. As a result, official relationships suffer, and so does your culture.
As a leader, you tend to solve problems and get into tasks and be direct. But to create ownership with your direct reports, you have to ask them questions like, ‘How can we work together in this environment?’ ‘In which channel you prefer to communicate?’ and ‘What kind of support are you looking for?’
When you talk to your employee, make sure you listen for facts, feelings, and values. If you’re a generally task-focused leader and you suddenly find yourself managing remote employees, resist the temptation only to focus on your talks when you communicate virtually. Otherwise, you may overlook people’s feelings and values, which motivate them and drives their behavior.
And during meetings, ask people what they have understood; if any confusion occurred, try to make them know again because a doubt can spoil everyone’s whole work procedure.
To be more explicit, frequently pause for questions and accept them with enthusiasm to create a more psychologically safe work culture where people feel comfortable speaking and sharing their views.
Tips- Don’t pressure employees by setting deadlines; ask them when they can finish the work, and you can adjust the deadline accordingly.
2. Use Suitable and Secure Communication Channels
Leaders in remote working cultures may feel that their days are now consumed with meetings. So before scheduling a meeting, choose the appropriate medium for communication. Choose reputed app services that secure the details of the users and which also give seamless experiences. Sometimes, web conferencing leads to frustration, especially when you don’t have a proper communication channel.
Virtual communication is also an outstanding opportunity to talk with your people, find out their preference for communicating and set some parameters that each one can follow. Avoid using social media apps like Whatsapp for an official chat. It will not make an impact on employees, just like savings and business accounts. You should choose a different platform between official discussion and personal.
Not only this, always use a Nord VPN to make sure your conversation is private. CyberGhost is a widely used VPN for video call service providers with over 750 servers worldwide. Nowadays, the way people are concerned about data privacy, it becomes important to secure your communication over video calls. Nord VPN provides top-notch security- in December 2020, NordVPN started a network-wide rollout of 10Gbps servers, upgrading from the earlier 1Gbps standard. The company’s servers in Amsterdam and Tokyo were the first to support 10Gbps, and by December 21, 2020, over 20% of the company’s network had been upgraded.
For example, some companies have decided that email is a suitable platform for sharing updates (PPT), while interactive platforms like Zoom calls are better suited for problem-solving.
Once you adopt these guidelines, it becomes part of your virtual culture, and you will be less inclined to make a knee-jerk decision that your team needs a virtual call every time you have a quick update to share.
3. Be Active in Resolving Conflict
When multiple changes happens at once, and communication is sparse, people tend to resolve their uncertainty by making up stories to explain unanswered questions.
When you are together in an office, some of that is relieved because you get more hallway conversations where concerns and questions come out, leaders hear, and you can address them. But when you are at home and working, there’s no natural release through traditional ‘watercooler’ channels.
Our research found that leaders communicate when they feel something is going wrong and can easily direct on the spot if you’re working from an office. In virtual communication, emotions left behind in the virtual environment might erupt into a cloud of negative comments, which will be challenging to resolve. Do not send your entire team messages dealing with conflict. Keep these conversations on an individual level, not on a group level.
As a leader, it is important to lead from the front and set the mode of communication. This will help build a robust culture, and people will feel comfortable working with you as a team. And they will be able to be pleased with virtual talks and communications. Make sure your virtual persona and virtual communications are effective and impressive as much as possible.
4. Simplify Roles, Responsibilities of the remote workers
‘Trust’ is a word, which is a bit difficult when it comes to virtual meetings. Things get worse when you can’t guide them physically and when you can’t see them working.
In virtual communication, your actions speak louder than your words. If you do outstanding work, your result will prove how much hard work you put into achieving your target goal.
You have to be explicit about creating results, being responsive, and showing that you are doing your work on time. If you’re introverted and you have it all handled, but you are not telling anybody, those story-making machines startup, and other people start wondering if you are productive.
To bridge the virtual distance, get back on calls and emails on time. Set reasonable deadlines and meet them. And make sure you always engage them with the work your employees used to do from the office.
As a leader, you can establish a culture of integrity by being transparent about your role & responsibilities and what you intend to deliver to your teammates. Be specific about what you’re providing, like details about your tasks, and follow up on verbal agreements in writing. It is the situation of a leader when he manages remote employees via video call.
5. Set Boundaries
You must have heard that fences make good neighbors. If everyone is clear about their roles and responsibilities, it helps create much-refined communications with a leader. Always discuss your roles and responsibilities to ensure everyone on your team feels control over their work hours.
Communicate with your teammates about surrounding work hours and response times. Once those expectations are fulfilled and respected, they can become a part of your adopted culture. When it’s accepted as a cultural norm, you can efficiently work within set parameters that give you control over your work and personal life.
All of these procedures can help you strengthen your organizational culture and continue to build collaboration with teammates, even when the contribution is virtual and the work culture is remote.
During the pandemic, businesses have to plan, adapt and change their working culture. Establishing a remote work culture is one of the crucial aspects of the current situation. You can easily change and implement the systems over-night, but building a remote work culture takes some time. You can begin by applying the project and task management, communication rules, effective communication medium, and many others. Then, explain and educate employees and make them feel they are important assets of the organization.
If you do so, from the beginning, your employees will be more productive and happy. Your services will remain the same, leading to satisfied clients and lowered risks of potential losses.
Unboxing Startups will be happy to guide companies in these challenging times. Together we are stronger.
Suprotik Sinha is the Content Writer with Synkrama Technologies. He writes about technologies and startups in the global enterprise space. An animal lover, Suprotik, is a postgraduate from Symbiosis Institute of Mass Communication (SIMC) Pune. He carries 6+ years of experience in Content Writing, and he also worked in mainstream broadcast media, where he worked as a Journalist with Ibn7 ( now known as News18 India) and Zee Media in Mumbai.