It’s safe to say that no one expected 2020 to go the way it did, yet here we are. However, one positive change is that companies have had to think about how to build and sustain an inclusive remote culture.
Diversity and inclusivity make your company more productive. More and more jobs are remote for the short and medium term. Therefore, it’s important that we consider inclusivity specifically related to remote work.
Remote work used to be the domain of only the most agile and cutting edge companies. Now, seemingly every business has had to adapt to operate at any normal capacity this year.
As is becoming increasingly clear, working outside the office has unique challenges. One of the biggest ones is maintaining a supportive and inclusive remote culture. But how can you maintain professionalism, productivity, and inclusive relationships while working from home?
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Define the Culture You Want
One of the problems companies face when building culture is that they never clearly define what makes a good work environment or an inclusive remote culture. It’s as if they expect everyone to just “know,” but in fact, everyone has different ideas.
You want a fun-loving workplace, so Sally from accounting shares a meme — but Rashad in marketing wants to keep the work chat more professional.
Or maybe you want people to be personable and share about their lives, but someone in production feels uncomfortable with sharing that much information with coworkers they’re not familiar with.
Ultimately, the real goal is to foster an environment where everyone feels safe, comfortable, and valued. That means that a sense of humor and personal details might have to take a backseat to professionalism and compassion. Or maybe that’s the case just until everyone warms up to one another and understands the boundaries of working from home.
First, make sure that everyone in the organization is aware of your communication and engagement goals. That way, if someone’s joke in the chat is taken down, they’ll have an understanding of why. It might just help shift their perspective overall!
Keeping Everyone Connected
Staying connected in a remote work culture isn’t easy. It’s not as simple as setting up video cocktail nights, after all — it has to be intentional and part of the everyday work environment.
Specifically, every company should have a communication plan, whether they have remote workers or not. Successful communication plans allow you to assess your needs, as well as those of your employees, internally and externally, and take steps to keep everyone in the loop. This might mean weekly meetings, regular one-on-ones, or a communication channel dedicated to the type of “watercooler talk” that would happen in person, and which many people crave and need in order to feel connected to their coworkers. Even with little things like this, remote teams can foster a strong sense of belonging and collaboration.
Some other tactics for keeping communication open and engaging include:
Taking Advantage of Routines
Everyone uses routines in their daily life, and many of us create them without even realizing it. The same goes for people working remotely, especially those who are thrust into the work-from-home life without any warning or planning. With that said, there are two ways you can use routines to help your team and invite engagement at the same time: First, ask people to share what they consider routines in their personal lives that they feel helps them to be more productive at work. People tend to love talking about morning routines, especially, because they are so important to set the tone for one’s day.
It’s also always interesting to see what inspires and motivates others, and as your team shares, everyone might discover some new ideas. You might even decide to create a voluntary morning routine challenge to help people practice new habits.
Secondly, use routines in your daily business, too. When you’re working remotely, it’s helpful to know what to expect each day. By having meetings and check-ins at scheduled times, you can help your staff get into the flow of the week. It also makes it much easier to schedule focused work times if meetings are set in advance.
Teambuilding exercises can either be corny and terrible or fun and effective. As a leader, you’re the one who decides. Done well, remote team building can improve morale, reduce stress, and improve cooperation.
Consider using five minutes on a video call to allow everyone to decide what two things they would have to have with them on a deserted island. Or, you can do a business-related book club discussion or share items you each have on your bucket list.
The key is to let team members know about these questions in advance, so no one feels put on the spot. Also, focus on allowing team members to speak up and be heard without fear of judgment. Being able to share openly in these informal situations can help encourage more participation in the work environment.
Giving Everyone Equal Access to the Collective Intelligence of Peers
One of the best ways to foster an inclusive remote culture at work is to ensure everyone has equal access.
One way to do this is Givitas, a knowledge sharing platform that allows everyone to exchange help, resources, ideas, knowledge, and connections in a way that boosts workplace generosity and gratitude. Using Givitas gives everyone the same access.
Keeping Remote Work Culture Strong
Eventually, offices will open up, and many companies will return to business as usual. However, how well you kept your culture healthy during the remote phase will have a significant impact on how your team comes back together.
You may also decide that remote work has a permanent role in your business. It has many advantages, after all, from being able to offer flexible work arrangements to attracting talent from anywhere in the world. If that’s the case, the skills you develop now will pay off significantly down the road.
Either way, keeping your company culture healthy during remote work periods is vital. With these tips, you’ll be positioned for success in 2020 and beyond.
About the Author
Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger. Since finishing college he is trying his hand at being a freelance writer. He enjoys writing on a variety of topics but business and leadership topics are his favorite. When he isn’t writing you can find him traveling, hiking, or gaming