Countries and companies have one thing in common: their failure or success often boils down to their culture. Often, the most progressive and profitable companies and countries aren’t always the ones with the most resources or the most aggressive leaders, but you’d be hard-pressed to think of one without a strong, thriving culture.
And it seems like that reality is here to stay. The landscape of work as we know it is shifting, and managing a virtual team or business is no longer as uncommon as it once was. Yet cultivating the right sort of culture is more important than ever, given that telecommuting can only succeed if those involved exhibit strong work ethics despite the physical absence of authority.
So, how can you help cultivate a culture that allows your distributed workforce to thrive? Here are some of the simplest yet most effective strategies:
A positive work-life balance is pretty much the key benefit of working remotely, and it should remain that way. Working with your employees to create their own tailor-made schedules, among other things, often results in higher worker satisfaction and overall productivity as well. There is a myriad of ways to promote good work-life balance in your company, all you need to do is to figure out which ones would work best for you and your team.
Face-to-face interaction is generally a rarity in many virtual work set-ups, so constant and purposeful communication is crucial.
Checking in on the status of projects (i.e., obstacles encountered, progress made, etc.) should be a given, but occasional discussions about timely goals and any changes to the company’s trajectory should also be carried out regularly to ensure that everyone is on the same page.
Never forget that your workers come from different locations, and thus, different time zones, especially when you’re drawing up meeting schedules.
If it’s impossible for all team members to be present at a meeting due to conflicting time zones, you may want to consider holding a separate meeting for those who cannot make it to the first one. If that is not an option, try not to make a habit out of putting the members on the opposite end of the globe at a disadvantage.
This can be achieved by setting up functional communication channels like group chats and by establishing clear working hours (i.e., when everyone is expected to be online).
Creating ways for team members to communicate with one another outside of group meetings is also key to providing your distributed workforce with sufficient virtual support.
Once they’ve proven themselves deserving of such, of course.
Is one of your workers especially proficient in gathering and interpreting data analytics? Got someone who seems to have a flair for crafting statements that hit just the right note? Allowing such talents a certain authority (and responsibility) over projects or tasks that play right into their strengths would increase both their skills and their job satisfaction.
If your virtual workforce has gotten too large for you to be able to do this, at least get to know your core team individually.
A few regularly scheduled video calls, as well as in-person events, will help you accomplish this and thus give you a clue as to what drives the key people in your company, allowing you to adjust your team-building strategies accordingly.
In line with the previous item, once you’ve gotten a handle on your core group’s diverse needs and preferences, you’re in a better position to come up with policies that will allow each member to prosper.
For instance, once you figure out which of your employees prefer more in-person meetings or voice calls and which ones are more comfortable with purely digital communication, it will be easier to communicate effectively with each of them whenever the need arises.
Just because remote employees don’t work in an office doesn’t mean they won’t appreciate a virtual pat on the back.
Even the most reticent telecommuter would appreciate being commended for a job well done. You don’t even need to make a sparkly gif each time, a mere “You did great on last week’s project, we’re all very impressed” on your team’s group chat is enough to make anyone feel appreciated (and will thus encourage them to keep giving their all).
Never underestimate the power of the occasional person-to-person meet-up.
Since a virtual team already enables you to save up on administrative costs like office space rent and utilities, why not use a portion of the savings to sponsor a weekend away with the team? It would give everyone a chance to get to know each other and get some much-needed rest and relaxation in the process.
Can’t afford a team outing just yet? Virtual holiday parties are a great alternative.
Only your workers can give you accurate insights on what your virtual team needs for a thriving work culture, so be sure to get their two cents’ about things from time to time too.
It’s called “culture” because it takes time to develop and doesn’t appear overnight. If you want to build a company where good, honest work and a collaborative spirit are the norm, you need to be pretty consistent in implementing practices that uphold such.
Should you succeed, however, watching your team of talented, diverse people learn to work as one and to uplift each other is sure to boost not just your bottom line, but your own feelings of fulfillment as well.