Remote Work Culture: 3 Tips To Ensure It's Working For Everyone

Start with the right mindset.

The first thing you need to do is to build trust. Remote organizations must be built on trust: Trust that people will show up on time, finish what they promise, and achieve the results you expect. Your remote employees are not your children; if you don't believe in their abilities and their ability to get the job done, why did you hire them? If a lack of trust is keeping you from having a remotely-run business now, it's better to work through it before going remote or find that person new employment. You'll be glad you did.

Communication comes next, but not just any communication — meaningful communication. Too many organizations fail at this by thinking all they need is a platform like Slack, Skype, or Zoom. Those are great tools for getting people connected in real time but be sure to have clear expectations of when those channels should and shouldn't be used. Some companies have even gone so far as to make “do not disturb” hours where no one expects immediate responses during certain times of day because they realize that productivity requires focusing without interruptions sometimes.

Encourage communication.

One of the first mistakes that companies make when introducing a remote working policy is to assume that, since workers are no longer in an office environment with each other, they don't need to engage with colleagues as much. That's not true.

In fact, it's more important than ever for your staff to communicate regularly—not only will this encourage them to build stronger relationships, it will also make your company appear friendlier and more approachable from the outside. Video calls are a great way of doing this, so encourage your team members to log on via Skype, Facetime or some other platform for regular meetings. You can also use these tools for regular check-ins—when employees have that face-to-face contact with their managers, it reassures them that their work matters and makes them feel valued by the organization as a whole.

Even if you're not ready to take the plunge into video calling just yet (maybe you're a little camera shy), there are still ways of encouraging communication among remote workers. Set up shared online spaces where people can leave questions—and answers—for one another throughout the day; schedule breaks where everyone logs off Slack or Google Docs at the same time; and provide everyone with an emergency contact number should they run into difficulties during their working day.

Give people what they need to do their jobs well.

As you consider your remote workforce, ask yourself this question: “What do employees need in order to do their jobs well?” The answer is the most important thing to establish with your distributed team.

When designing the work environment for remote workers, make sure that people have access to everything they need. That means giving them things like:

  • The technology and tools they need to be successful. For example, there's no point in giving someone an amazing task management app if that person doesn't have decent Internet service or a working computer. It's also important to determine what non-tool items people might need (like a quiet place to work) and make sure those things are available to everyone.
  • The information they need in order to be successful at their job. This includes things like company reports, department goals, and any other information that can help people perform well at work. If possible, it's best practice to provide not just the information but also context around why it's useful and how it fits into larger business goals or initiatives. A context-free report on quarterly sales numbers is less helpful than one that explains which regions are performing well and which aren't—and why there might be a variance between different offices or teams.

Remote work can be a great success, and it is easy to set people up for that success.

Remote teams aren’t just a vision of the future, they’re here now. And with many units like Operations and Product Development working from home — or from anywhere in the world, really — remote work culture is key to your company’s success.

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