content_multi_blog_MainRegion

Hays UK jobs and employment blog

Blogs

5 tips for maintaining your workplace culture remotely 

By Thea Watson, Marketing Director of Hays UK & I and UK Board member

What is workplace culture?

 “You don’t need everyone physically together to create a strong culture. The best cultures derive from actions people actually take.”

Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson, founders of Basecamp and authors of New York Times bestseller ‘ReWork’.

“Culture” is hard to define, as it means something slightly different for every company. However, it is widely accepted that culture in a team isn’t about individual performances, personalities or attitudes, it is about how a team works together as a cohesive unit. Cultivating a positive company culture is challenging, even without the added complication of having remote workers. But with the current climate accelerating the use of remote working, it is now important that companies ensure a positive culture thrives outside of the office environment.

Maintaining a sense of unity

Managing from afar and working with virtual teams requires a tailored approach, focusing on delivering an understanding of the aligned objectives between the employer and employee and how they can be achieved, as well as how connected teams feel.

Remote working can sometimes create obstacles to communication, collaboration, relationship building and accessibility within your team, however, with the right strategy and communication techniques you can still maintain a unified and remote workforce.

It might help, when working out how to maintain your workplace culture remotely, to consider discussing the following:

  • The communication channels you plan to use (i.e. Skype, Slack, Microsoft Teams)
  • The collaborative tools you think work best (i.e. Google Docs)
  • How you and your team communicate your working hours and availability to each other
  • Ways of communicating and deciding who should be in the loop on which discussions (for example ensuring key team members i.e. designers, copy writers, web developers etc aren’t left out of processes)

So what are the key elements to nail if you want to maintain your workplace culture remotely?

1. Clear and transparent communication

When managing remote workers, effective and open communication is crucial. It is important that you establish frequent communication via the right digital tools, taking advantage of all channels at your disposal to arm employees with the resources needed to continue to perform effectively and encourage new mediums for collaboration.

When the team cannot be together in person, therefore, the next best thing is to connect via video. It could simply entail a weekly call, where the first five minutes is allotted to management to update team members about how the company is doing, any changes and then allow time for questions. You can then use the rest of the conference call as an opportunity to align priorities, keep everyone informed and share news. By scheduling regular conferences you can effectively lead a real-time conversation with a clear, unified objective. Send an agenda prior to the call and encourage everyone to add to it.

As these calls are now your equivalent to team meetings you need to stress the importance of attending, making sure that everyone receives the update and in turn everyone can be heard. This will ensure that every remote worker is being kept in the loop and part of their team.

2. Building a rapport

Remote working removes the opportunity for those impromptu interactions that can often build a personal rapport and foster working relationships between employees. This could be sharing ideas about work or simply catching up about their weekend, generally just spending quality time together, which is essential for team bonding. This is particularly important if you have new team members who may not have yet had the opportunity to fully integrate into your organisation yet. 

Therefore, as well as maintaining transparency, it is important to build in ‘team time’ on conference calls to provide the opportunity to encourage small talk and build relationships. This time could be used to recognise accomplishments and have ‘unofficial’ chatter, creating a consistent positive part of each week. On the occasion when conference calls aren’t possible or necessary, technology now provides alternatives to sustain regular communication between employees, and you could look at setting up a group chat – for example using Yammer or Slack.

3. Knowledge sharing

Many of your team members possess specialist knowledge that it’s easy to share in the office, but more difficult to do remotely. Perhaps get one of your employees to create a PDF, webinar or podcast on their specialist subject? This could be a unique opportunity to encourage your team to appreciate one another’s value and really understand the strength of their contribution. Ensure that this is followed up with recognition and public praise of team members.

4. Engaging with colleagues

It may be easy in person to read people’s body language and play off their reactions, but on the phone this is more difficult. Where possible, arrange video calls so at least team members are able to see each other, making it easier to collaborate and resolve issues.

Whilst reading each other’s body language can still be tricky on camera, this can be mitigated by paying closer attention to tone of voice and identifying changes in pace or pitch. Unifying teams at this point is crucial, and it’s important to make employees understand that despite the distance they are still part of a unified team working towards the same company goals. Encourage inclusive language such as ‘we’ and ‘our’ when referencing counterparts, a subtle technique that fosters cohesion and unity and also help new team members feel welcomed and included.

5. Recognising an opportunity

Whilst remote work can add an additional layer of complexity, when done well it has been argued that having flexibility around remote working is a strengthening force. Where people are trusted and empowered to work in the interests of the organisation, then it’s possible to get to a place where culture influences mindset. When this happens, where people are located shouldn’t matter, and it’s this that can still create a sense of collaboration in-tune with the organisational culture.

If you have any further questions or concerns about hiring in the current climate, please contact your hays consultant.

About this author

Thea is responsible for the UK & I marketing team as well as driving the strategic direction of the marketing function, looking closely at opportunities for growth, positioning in the marketplace and sales support. She was appointed to the Hays UK & I Board in July 2017, following joining the UK business in the summer of 2016.

Prior to her current role she was the Vice President of Marketing for the Hays Americas business, joining the business in 2012. Under her management she built the marketing function from general support to a strategic driver of sales, establishing a central marketing unit supporting Canada, US and four Latin American countries.

content_multi_Hays_Thrive_Wellbeing_lockdown_RHmodule

Wellbeing training

This lockdown, give your staff the support they need, sign up for free staff training from Hays Thrive.
Sign up now

content_multi_MyLearning_RHModule

My Learning

My Learning is your portal for free training courses to support you throughout your career and get you market-ready for your next job search.

Content_multi_DIReport_RHModule

Hays Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Report 2020

In our latest Equality, Inclusion and Diversity Report, we explore whether flexible working can help create more diverse workforces and more inclusive workplaces.

Content_multi_search_for_jobs_RHModule

Job search

Search for a job

Looking for a new role? Search here for your ideal job or get in touch with one of our expert consultants.

Content_multi_register_a_job_RHModule

Register a job

Register a vacancy

Have a vacancy? Fill in your details here.

Content_multi_office_locator_RHmodule

Contact us

Find your nearest Hays office

Hays has offices across the whole of the UK. Contact us to discuss your employment needs.