True company culture—the kind that’s studied, scrutinized and shaped into clearly-communicated core values—is what separates a business that stays afloat from one that rides the waves of success.
Culture is what divides the Kip Tindells and Shake Shacks of the world from the John Chambers and Wal-Marts. It has the power to attract brilliant employees and keep them engaged and inspired—or send an already-revolving door into an endless tailspin.
It can make or break a business.
While defining core values is important to the success of any business, it becomes critical when your employees work remotely.
It’s one thing to strengthen a foundation when there are water coolers down the hall and watering holes around the corner. But split your employees over several states or countries, and maintaining a sense of shared values can be a real challenge.
Enter collaboration and camaraderie—two cultural pillars to the success of any agile organization.
If you’re looking for creative ways to help remote employees feel invested and engaged, use these tried-and-tested tactics:
Find Time to Kick Back
With so many studies showing how engaged and productive the average remote worker tends to be, it’s important to provide opportunities for remote coworkers to interact in meaningful ways. Sometimes that means a weekly scrum. Other times call for a casual happy hour.
At Formstack, where Jell was founded, there are chat rooms dedicated to topics other than business: music, fantasy football, TV shows and even a catch-all “water cooler.” And we’ve found that encouraging employees to grab a beer before joining a casual digital get together is truly one of the easiest, most effective ways to foster camaraderie.
Plan Killer Meetups
It’s no secret that many employees have come to view “company retreat” as an oxymoron. Despite the bad rap they’ve earned, regular meetups can be a highly effective way for remote teams to regroup and renew a passion for collaboration.
You just have to get a little creative.
Once we committed to remote work, it didn’t take long to realize how massively important it is to unite work-from-home employees with their in-office coworkers. A few years later, we’ve hit a bit of a groove: Once a year—more for each of the departmentalized teams—we get all hands on deck for team-building activities and work sessions staff actually enjoy.
Depending on your team and the nature of your work, that might mean anything from comedy improv and cooking lessons to nature hikes and skeet shooting. (Seriously. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.)
We’ve discovered that periodically bringing the entire company together in one physical location can go a long way when it comes to building relationships and stepping back to talk about big-picture issues.
Give Remote Workers a Voice
Because remote employees tend to be happy, engaged and creative, their collaborations often lead to a significant side effect: growth.
Not the slow and steady kind, but rather the variety of double-digit staff and revenue increases that tend to come on at a fast and furious pace. When a small startup expands in this way, it can be easy for employees to get unintentionally lost in the shuffle—even more so when their interactions with your company are remote.
Our recommendation? Give your remote employees a voice. Introduce them on your blog, recruit them to help plan your meetup, encourage them to contribute creative ideas and involve them when it comes time to set department goals.
Make Remote Standups a Natural Part of Each Day
SMART daily standups are one of the best ways to improve communication among remote teams and keep project timelines on track—all without adding yet another meeting to the calendar. Simply ask your team to start each weekday by quickly answering three key questions…
- What did you accomplish yesterday?
- What are you planning to do today?
- What challenges stand in your way?
…so together you can set goals and measure success. This approach can be very effective for individual departments as well as leadership teams.
There’s no doubt that remote work is the wave of the future, as long as growing businesses find creative ways to bring company culture along for the ride.