Ever since the pandemic struck, many businesses have transitioned to working remotely. No longer a novelty, organizations have started operating remote-first within their existing business structures. But how to improve and adapt those structures to a remote-first world?
Managers and remote leaders now have to ask: how do you (and should you?) copy the same century-old corporate practices into your remote policies? Can you continue to inspire a handful of teams and dozens of employees to do their best when operations are hybrid or completely remote?
Successfully capturing a remote-first working style is difficult at first, but you can lead by example – and with an organizational framework in place, it’s easier than you think. The aim should be to implement a remote system that emphasizes equitability of access to work, trust and connection between colleagues, and regular feedback from team leaders.
Why is Remote-First Culture Important?
Aside from the obvious reduction in company costs by saving on office space, remote-first culture has many benefits – not just for the organization, but for the employees as well. Remote-first culture allows companies to be productive regardless of where employees are. It gives everyone a chance at success, whether they choose to come to the office or work from home. Management can focus on the quality and productivity of team members. Performance and trust are realigned around outcomes, not butts in seats.
Remote-first culture also allows employees to stay happy and efficient while maintaining a work-life balance that fits their personal circumstances. Social interactions can happen with coworkers and mentors without leaving the security of their home – safety isn’t something they need to worry about. Burnout and loneliness can be avoided with online coffee hangs or lunch breaks.
Employees are looking for employers that understand this balance! Word-of-mouth and social media presence can put your company in the spotlight, attracting talented individuals and remote-first execs who want to take part in and replicate the same transition you have established in making your business remote-first.
Creating a Remote-First Culture
So how and where do you start when creating a remote-first culture? Here are some practices that will help you on your way to building a remote work culture for your company:
Have the right onboarding materials
Creating an effective remote-first culture begins during the onboarding process. This is when new team members are exposed to the company’s practices, policies, and priorities for the first time, and this initial impression can either make or break a remote-first culture. It can also familiarize your new employees with company traditions and workflows.
When you’re dealing with a small number of fresh faces, video conferencing tools will do the trick.Properly onboarding new hires can also help them learn about the company in a more engaging way. After your one-on-one interviews and documentation, you can also give the candidates your business 101. Running New Hire Info Sessions on Venue differs from other basic seminars that let new team members get more engaged with what’s special about your company. Help them understand the company’s culture from the get-go with goals aligned with your new employees’ own personal game plan.
Establish remote-first company policies
Is the company’s virtual set-up permanent or not? Is the work situation flexible or remote only? These are just some of the questions you need to ask – and answer! – in order for your organization to successfully get work-from-home set up right. Employees, new and existing, want to know what’s going on, what management’s planning to do, and how they’ll be supported. Establishing clear remote work policies will help employees clarify their own thinking and form the foundation of a strong culture, creating trust between the employers and the employees.
The current transitional phase also opens an opportunity to review and refine the business workflow procedures you already have, so that employees are aware of their responsibilities. You can use this window to introduce channels that will help maintain two-way communication between colleagues, wherever they happen to be. Refresh your company’s mission and goals, and while you’re at it, set up a weekly All Hands meeting. This provides a one-stop shop for all the notices and roundup meetings to keep your employees in the loop, and you can host it on a trusted and engaging live streaming platform, like Venue.
Introduce (or re-introduce) remote-first concepts
Many employees have been working from home since the start of the pandemic, but are their ideas of what remote-first means lined up with your company’s vision? Clarify the idea of remote-first and incorporate it within the organization’s overall philosophy.
When talking with your team, try to identify and assess their personal and group expectations. Ask for feedback on the status quo and allow your team leaders to give constructive feedback as well. Hear their opinions as employees – don’t leave them annoyed and confused with concerns and frustrations that aren’t being addressed.
In the early stages, it’s important to let your team know it’s okay to make mistakes. Let survey results be seen and published, along with management’s answers, so that transparency is upheld. You can also use Venue’s interactive talks and workshops that improve real connections among team members within and outside their specific teams.
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Start company-wide synchronous time
Although asynchronous time may aid in management, discussion, and time differences, synchronous time is best for addressing urgent concerns or providing team- or company-wide updates. These real-time communications help to engage all parties simultaneously. This also contributes to effective collaboration in multiple departments and helps bring the company together. Answers are given directly, and it is great for mimicking daily office life pre-pandemic. Ask Me Anything (AMAs) are ideal for promoting authentic culture.
Venue encourages business alignment and transparency by finding ways to provide real company connections. Company-wide networking along with random 1:1 connection promotes and strengthens the community within your company.
Carry out regular bonding activities
Recurring activities will make your employees more aware of the company’s schedules and set the tempo of the company’s remote work culture. Friendly competitions or shared activities help people create connections and have casual conversations with one another.
Remote-first can also mean giving employees more independence and autonomy around get-together rituals outside of their respective work tasks – part of training them to develop into better leaders with deeper relationships in the future. Assign different teams or departments as hosts of regular bonding activities, letting them look forward to something that’s not all about work.It’s important to let team culture develop organically among individuals who don’t interact on a day-to-day basis. With rotating monthly social events like virtual town halls and annual gatherings like community events, social channels remain open and reachable throughout the entire year, promoting open communication.
Keep the team engaged with creative gatherings
Building a remote-first culture is not just something you can tick off on your to do list. It requires constant work and effort from the whole organization. Devoting time and energy into building a remote-first company can be challenging at first, but once you get the hang of it, you may realize that it differs very little from your in-office experiences.Keeping team members engaged often requires finding innovative and unique ways to keep their motivations up and involve them in company culture.
Thinking of these methods and implementing them is just as important as using tools that support them. On Venue, you might mix it up with talk shows and video podcasts – keeping the format fresh is just one great way to maintain enthusiasm and keep everyone in the loop with what’s happening in the company.
The Bottom Line
Building a remote-first culture takes more determination and thoughtfulness compared to face-to-face office culture. It requires you to envision every aspect of what you want your company’s remote work culture to be, and then apply it to every stage of operations – from the hiring process, to modifying your goals and business plans, to implementing policies on how you want your team to communicate.
Like in any business or personal relationship, communication is key. Successful remote-first companies start by making sure that every member of the company is being heard and valued. Optimizing remote-first culture requires tools like Venue to strengthen team bonds and celebrate milestones more effectively. Using simple but powerful live video platforms is proven to boost efficiency in work areas and will benefit the employees and the company.