The Role of Culture in a Remote Work Setting

Having an almost entirely remote workforce is a relatively new concept for many business owners. People worked remotely before the pandemic, but COVID-19 lockdowns certainly introduced many more to the idea. Working from home is an excellent option for people with difficult commutes or health issues. However, startups may be finding it hard to establish workplace culture with hybrid and remote employees.

Entrepreneurs need to develop a sense of community at work. It’s even more critical when everyone’s working from home. What are some ways startups can create company culture? Here are some reasons you need to do it and ways to get started.

Why is company culture important?

People working for a business want to feel like they’re doing something important. One of the reasons you created your startup might have been for this exact reason. This is where company culture comes into play.

Establishing ideals you would like to follow attracts people who share those thoughts. Once they’re there, you have to encourage them to continue following through. Think about it — wouldn’t you want to work for a company that values its employees and does what it set out to do? Without culture, the people who work for you will feel like they’re just machine parts.

Company culture lets employees know what they can expect from you. It includes how you go about business and ways you encourage workers. This can mean things like:

  • Business mission statement
  • Communication
  • Values and ethics
  • Bonuses and rewards
  • Training and development

How you choose to treat those who work for you will make a big difference. Imagine working for a company with no goals and no interest in its employees. Maybe you’ve already been there and know how it felt. Good company culture will promote well-being and productivity. Research shows employee happiness can help businesses earn nearly 2% more and outperform their competitors.

5 Ways to Revamp Your Company’s Culture

How culture has shifted with remote working options

Having fulfilled workers is very advantageous, but many companies are unsure how to do so. One survey showed that 46% of leaders are looking to improve employee satisfaction among those they manage. This is why developing a culture while working from home is crucial. It can help workers feel happier, more productive and satisfied.

In an interview with Wired, Chris Collins of Cornell University discussed how remote workers can feel disconnected from their workplace. He stated that work could feel “transactional” without any engagement for employees. Specifically, Collins related this to a high turnover rate in remote companies. One thing that may be the most interesting for new business owners is that culture might encourage loyalty from workers. If a job feels less like a task, people will feel encouraged to return.

Obviously, you don’t have any coworkers at home to support you or be social with when working remotely. Human connection is something everyone needs to be happy. One-third of remote employees say they miss other people in the office, and more than 20% say they feel removed from the companies they work for. However, nearly 60% still want the option to work from home. To keep them happy, you need to find ways to communicate effectively and stay connected.

Company culture is vital for startups to stand out. It dictates how customers see you and how many employees choose to stay. Positive workers encourage more business and productivity. Raising your employee satisfaction in a remote setting will help you achieve all possible benefits.

Must-read: How to Staff a Strong Culture on a Shoestring Budget

Building culture while hybrid and remote

Creating a company culture with remote workers can indeed be challenging. Luckily, startups have many options available that can assist you in accomplishing your goals.

1.    Use clear and quick communication.

This is important anywhere you work, but especially in a work-from-home environment. You won’t be able to answer the questions of whoever walks into your office. Both hybrid and fully remote employees must know exactly what’s going on. Better communication means you all can do your jobs effectively.

Encourage those who work with you to reach out if they’re unsure about anything. Additionally, if you’re not training them over a call, write out what they need to do as transparently as possible.

2.    Encourage casual discussions.

Having fun chats during meetings will be good for you and your workers. You’ll all feel more connected and supported. Ask them about any significant life updates. Did someone just move into a new living space? What’s been the latest show or movie they watch all the time? What funny things have their pets or babies been doing? Making time for more informal talks can help employees at a distance feel a lot closer. Beyond working, you’re genuinely getting to know each other.

3.    Establish expectations.

Spelling out expectations is essential for startups. How often do you expect reports? Who do you require to come to different meetings? What kind of productivity and growth are you looking for? Expectations can be helpful for you and your employees. You’ll know exactly what you want and they’ll be able to deliver it. Setting goals also helps give workers a purpose — something driving them to perform. Be clear about what you require from them.

4.    Gather employee resources.

Remote workers have very different needs. Working from home has its benefits, but it can also feel isolating. You may find that some employees are struggling with their mental health or work-life balance. Ask them to be transparent with you and figure out ways to help them. This might include:

  • More one-on-one or group calls
  • Articles about how to separate work and home
  • Employee resource groups
  • Mental health days

People want to feel like they matter to their workplace and to you. Showing that you’re willing to help them when they need it can do this.

5.    Understand mistakes will happen.

When you’re starting a remote company, everyone there is learning together. There will be times when things don’t go perfectly or someone messes up. Know that this is natural and reassure employees this isn’t the end of the world. You may find software needing replacement or workers requiring more explicit guidelines. It’s a learning process that will take time to develop.

6.    Ask for feedback.

Something about your workflow that you didn’t consider might be decreasing productivity. Not getting everything right when you first start is entirely understandable. That’s where asking for employee feedback can provide a lot of insight. They’ll know you care about their jobs and are making an effort to improve them. Being adaptable will be a fantastic skill for everyone involved in your business.

7.    Celebrate milestones.

Remember, encouragement can be one of the biggest motivators. If someone on your team has done an exceptional job, shout them out and applaud what they’ve accomplished. As you start achieving your goals, make sure your workers know their diligence helped get you all there. This is one of the most important tips. Employees who work from home may not see the impact they’re making. You can help them understand their contributions by celebrating their contributions.

Build culture in your remote startup

Startups have a considerable advantage over companies relatively new to remote work. You get to skip the transition stage and have everyone you hire ready to work from home. However, you should remember how essential it is to create and develop your company’s culture. It will help you retain employees, raise profits, and instill an overall sense of community and satisfaction.

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