How to Extend Company Culture to a Remote Workforce
Here are five effective ways to create unity, boost engagement, and extend company culture to remote workers.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images
The number of people who say they've quit a job due to lack of flexibility has nearly doubled from 17 percent in 2014 to 32 percent in 2017.
Thirty-four percent of Millennials have left a job because it did not have work flexibility. And 45 percent of Millennials intend to leave companies within two years that have inflexible work environments.
Remote working is a strong talent retention tool in an untethered world. But extending company culture and instilling unity in a remote workforce can be challenging.
5 Ways Remote Workers Can Positively Experience Company Culture
1. Meet Face-to-Face
KISSmetrics holds an annual summit for its remote workers, Buffer's remote employees get together for retreats every five months, and Automattic gets their entire company (400 remote employees) together every year for a "grand meet-up" in a beautiful location.
These companies have discovered a secret to cultivating culture among remote workers...face-to-face meet-ups. The face-to-face meetings create opportunities for employees to bond, build trust, relationship build, and have fun. All core to building enduring company culture.
Use the money you save on office space and prioritize face-to-face meet-ups because putting a face to the name at the end of an email or a personality behind the Slack/Skype profile goes a long way.
Face-to-face meet-ups are a great way to jump-start company culture among remote workers. But to maintain that culture the rest of year takes some intention planning.
2. Create a Digital Watercooler
Watercooler talk (random and non-work-related conversation) is nonexistent with a remote team. However, there are ways to cultivate the healthy aspects of watercooler talk (spreading of ideas, team camaraderie, and bonding, fun--non-gossipy--chatter, etc.) with a remote team.
Chat services like Slack, Stride, or Basecamp are ideal for creating "channels" where watercooler talk can happen. Create a fun channel--essential a chat room focused on a specific topic--such as #random, #laugh-out-loud, #Netflix-binge-watchers, or #watercooler to create a place where the team can let off steam while bonding and building rapport with one another.
3. Knowledge Share
Encouraging remote employees to share their knowledge is a great way to cultivate culture. Knowledge sharing sessions could be work-related or not...the more personal or abstract the knowledge the more fun.
Leaders should also consider hosting a reoccurring town hall meeting where the status of the company, pending and upcoming decisions, recent changes, financial updates, and so forth are discussed. Some organizations have had success cultivating company culture remotely by hosting monthly "no question is off limits" Q&As where remote workers can ask anything and get honest, transparent answers.
4. Send Recognition
Consider using gifs (short looping videos from giphy.com for example) when using a chat service like Slack to celebrate wins and convey greater emotion and excitement among your remote Millennial workers. If a picture is worth a 1,000 words, then a gif must be worth 2,000 words. It's powerful, productive, and great for cultivating culture remotely.
Tango Card is a Slack integration that allows employees to send e-gift cards (such as Amazon Gift Cards) to teammates directly in Slack. Per-reward maximums and other parameters can be set to ensure the tools isn't abused. Overall it's a sleek and innovative way to boost morale and cultivate a culture with your remote workers.
5. Share Company Swag
Because remote workers aren't entering a building where the lobby and hallways are decked out with company logos and motivational company taglines, it's easier for remote workers to feel disconnected from the company brand.
Sending company swag (t-shirts, phone cases, coffee cups, etc.) to your remote team can help to keep them connected to the company brand. Consider sending the swag to the remote worker's entire family since they are essentially sharing the same "office" at times.
As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you'd like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.