One of the biggest arguments against remote work and outsourcing employees stems from a fear of the unknown. As technological advances have made working from home ideal, for many employees the ability to work remotely is a non-negotiable in their job hunt. Navigating company culture while managing remote and outsourced employees may seem intimidating, but it is as simple as it is in the office. The steps are different, but the results are the same.
Remote and Outsourced Staff are People Too
This first section may seem obvious to some, but you would be surprised how easy it is to fall prey to treating remote staff as outsiders. You don't see them everyday, you don't always hear from them everyday, and some, especially the talented team are so efficient and self-sufficient it can be easy to forget they are people. They need the same attention and involvement as teams that were once "in the office." It can be easy to forget that. Let's dig into some other thoughts on Building and Maintaining company culture.
Trust Your Employees
The number one rule when building and maintaining company culture is to trust your employees. If you can’t trust them, don’t hire them. If you feel the need to micromanage your staff, assess the people that you’ve chosen to work for you. It’s that simple.
A positive work culture and work environment consists of strong leaders who manage by offering insight, assistance, and communication. This is extremely different from a workplace where the leaders are looking over their employees’ shoulders 24/7. You have hired them to do a job, so let them do their job. If expectations are not being met, meet with them to form an improvement plan.
Establish Culture and Expectations
Whether your employees are new to the company or new to working from home, establishing, or reestablishing your culture and expectations is crucial. What values does your company hold? What are things that you look for in a top performing team member? What is your company’s definition of success?
Whether you’re speaking to someone who has plans to retire from your business or someone who is here through an outsourcing company for a short contract, treat them the same when it comes to instilling company values, ethics, and culture. This will ensure cohesiveness across the board and give you the best results.
Encourage Work-Life Balance
It is easy while working from home to get caught up in finishing tasks rather than finishing the workday. When your team members are task driven, this may be a place where you have to step in as a leader and establish boundaries. Everyone on your team should have a dedicated workday that does not go over a specific amount of time.
If someone works late one day to finish up a task before a meeting the next morning, encourage them to leave early another day that week. Salary employees often get caught in the circle of long work weeks to try to meet productivity demands, but this is not a positive thing long term. In fact, it is one of the fastest ways to diminish your company culture, ruin productivity, and lessen job satisfaction overall.
As a leader, encourage your employees and team members to have a balance between work life and home life even when they’re working from home. If this is no work on the weekends, establish that. If it is not working before a certain time of the day or after a certain hour, establish that. Even giving the occasional Friday afternoon off can make a world of a difference.
Prioritize Mental Health
Every company’s culture should in some way revolve around ensuring that the mental health of their staff is in check. Mental health is a huge priority, and it is something that has just recently become a topic of conversation in the workplace.
A company culture that prioritizes mental health is one that encourages its employees to take care of themselves. Through providing access to mental health resources, encouraging work-life balance, providing discussion spaces, and even putting company funds towards mindfulness retreats and classes, employers can ensure that their staff is healthy and functioning to the best of their ability. This results in a happier workplace that is more productive, as well as team members that feel supported.
Working remotely can cause employees to feel isolated from team members, so it’s important to encourage consistent communication throughout your company. Planning virtual team building exercises, regular meetings, and opening up chat rooms for non-work related conversation is a great way to foster relationships and encourage communication.
No one on your team should feel as if they are alone when they are working. Both salary employees and outsourced contract employees should know where to go when they need help, when they have a question, or if they need additional resources. Encouraging communication in the workplace reinforces company culture and gives employees a sense of purpose and belonging, even if they never come to the office.
Reinforce Company Culture by Listening to your Employees
The top way to build and maintain your company culture is by listening to your employees to find out what they need to succeed. Whether this is an ergonomic keyboard, more meetings, a company sponsored monthly luncheon, or simply a space to voice their concerns, it is important to be present and offer everyone a space to communicate their thoughts.
Building and maintaining company culture is simple if you know the steps to follow and you’re willing to listen to your employees. Whether you’re working remotely or in an office, you can instill company values and ensure that work is a pleasant place to be for everyone!
Just remember, even though you may not see them, they are and want to be part of the culture. Make sure you take the time to reinforce the companies culture and mission for them and with them. It's a new business world and everyone is adjusting. Be kind to yourself as well!