How do you maintain company culture when working remotely?

How do you maintain company culture when working remotely?

Company culture defines the ideals, values, attitudes and goals of an organisation; it’s the invisible glue that holds your team together and defines how it operates. It’s a vital part of your business’s identity and ensures every employee is represented.

Creating a positive culture can take time and persistence. It’s more than just posters on the wall or a statement on a name badge, it’s part of the lifeblood of an organisation. It’s identifying what you stand for, how you achieve it then articulating these values both to employees and customers.

Businesses with a great company culture benefit from enhanced employee engagement, a lower staff turnover and increased productivity.

But it’s not something you can just introduce then leave – it needs to be maintained and to evolve or improve where necessary.

So what happens when suddenly your team is torn away from the workplace to function remotely?

Tearing up the rule book

When the first lockdown was introduced a year ago, groups who spent almost 40 hours a week together suddenly found themselves working alone.

While staff had to come to terms with remote working, bosses and business owners were left wondering how to implement, replicate and maintain their culture without regular face to face catch-ups, team get-togethers and office banter.

Video technology has become vital in the past 12 months, not only as a way to meet clients but to keep teams together. A Zoom call may not replace a bit of water cooler gossip but it is a means of communicating face to face, albeit through the screen of a laptop or smart phone.

Never underestimate the power of talking – but cameras need to be on. Even if it’s only a 10-minute chat on a morning, it’s important leaders make the time to organise this for both communication and cohesion.

Companies using the coronavirus job retention scheme need to think carefully about how to include furloughed employees as the rules of the scheme prevent them from taking part in team meetings.

Introducing a regular quiz can ensure the social side of the business is maintained but morale-boosting gimmicks will only go so far. It’s more important to trust your team, to empower them to get through the work they need to and to have a healthy work/life balance.

Live and breathe the culture

One way to reinforce company culture is to conduct regular performance appraisals. How do employees rate themselves against the company values? Do they live and breathe what you stand for?

Some companies list their values on their website, making it clear to all what the business stands for. But it a successful culture runs deeper than this. When you’re having your regular chat or team huddle, try to thread your values into the language you use; include them on email footers and in appraisal documents.

It’s vital that everyone understands your culture and lives the values, from the CEO to the apprentice. When teams are working remotely, it becomes more important than ever for the senior team to be seen to embody the company values.

Make it meaningful

For a company culture to work effectively, regardless of whether teams are working remotely, values must not only remain meaningful but need to match your team’s own motivators.

A session with an HR specialist on team coaching, covering areas such as motivation, will reveal a lot about your employees and what makes them tick. For example, if the company values are rooted in integrity and honesty but your team’s personality is all about achieving targets, your culture probably won’t resonate very deeply. When values match team motivators, employees in all areas become fully engaged.

If you’re unsure about defining or maintaining your company culture, or you need help from an external HR expert, please get in touch.