When asked about work culture, most companies are quick to point out their open kitchen filled with snacks or their Friday night happy hours. Over the past year, these office perks have waned in value when compared to the added time and flexibility of a remote workplace. With nearly two thirds of employees hoping to remain remote post-pandemic and a number of companies choosing to move fully remote, culture will no longer be dependent on a physical environment. Let’s get into why culture might matter even more while remote, and how to create a fantastic one.
Aiming for a “great work culture” can feel like a vague target, achieved through some mysterious ratio of employee benefits and fun teammates. But just because culture is hard to pin down doesn’t make it any less important. In fact, 94% of executives and 88% of employees attribute their company’s success to the work culture. A culture that deliberately promotes collaboration and open communication can help avoid conflict, accelerate productivity and attract new talent. On the other hand, neglecting the importance of work culture can quickly set a precedent for lower work quality, employee resentment, and high turnover rates.
In the landscape of remote work, there’s often little distinguishing one company from the next besides compensation and benefits. Creating a great work culture regardless of your employees’ locations might be key to setting your company apart, allowing you to hold on to your best team members and draw in new hires.
So what makes a remote work culture truly great? Without the flair of in-person events or aesthetic physical spaces, a successful remote work culture can be built using four main elements: values, communication, connection and growth.
Too often, company values read more like a thesaurus entry than a useful framework. In order for a culture to truly reflect a company’s goals, these values must be clearly defined and implemented. If a company claims to value collaboration while project managers assign deliverables on a strictly individual basis, this is more likely to create a culture of confusion than anything else. Cultures built upon well-exemplified values are more likely to create aligned, successful teams.
Open communication is key to any successful work environment. However, without the ease of in-person interactions, remote teams often suffer from increased miscommunications, or a lack of conversation altogether. Two-way communication channels, allowing for employees and managers to openly share feedback and ideas on a regular basis, will allow for regular communication and lower employee turnover.
While expecting employees to eat, sleep and breathe their work can quickly become toxic, it is important to create a positive connection between employees and the workplace. In a remote work environment, this can be tricky. Without a comfortable office space or in-person relationships, connection comes down to the relationship between each employee and their work. Successful remote work cultures match employees with meaningful, engaging work with a clear sense of purpose.
Finally, as a company changes, its work culture should continue to grow right alongside. By consistently adapting to feedback from veteran employees and new hires alike, a successful work culture can continue to provide the necessary environment for the time.
In order to implement each of these four elements successfully, look to your learning and development strategy as the starting point. For remote employees, L&D provides the perfect opportunity to go beyond basic training and set a standard for the work culture.
Start by designing your strategy around your company values. If efficiency and productivity are core values, keep new content concise and delivered through an easily accessible method. If creativity and growth are of high importance, reflect that through widely varied learning platforms and activities.
Once you have L&D content and platforms that reflect your company’s core values, check for two way communication opportunities. If your current L&D design looks closer to a lecture regimen than a conversation, try reworking to include several checkpoints and opportunities for employees to actively engage and respond to content. Be sure to create communication channels accessible to every employee, regardless of their time zone or location. This is your opportunity to set transparent communication as a workplace expectation.
Cultivating connection for each individual through your L&D strategy may seem impossible, but incorporating personalized learning opportunities can be a great start. Provide new hires with in-depth training on the purpose and mission of their team, while allowing experienced employees to dive into new areas of interest with specialized development courses. Try incorporating additional opportunities for cross team collaboration throughout your L&D strategy as well; without an external push, remote employees may be inclined to keep to themselves.
As your workforce grows and changes, allow your L&D strategy to morph as needed. Don’t be afraid to change platforms to better reflect your values, cut unnecessary content, or pilot new programs based on employee feedback. A remote workplace grants you plenty of flexibility to try new technology and find the strategy that creates the best culture possible for your company.
Without the familiarity of an in-person environment, joining a new company can seem daunting and alienating. By leveraging your L&D strategy to create a value-based work culture, your company can build teams of supported, energized employees regardless of their location.
Not sure how to meet your L&D goals with a remote team? Try using SMS-based learning to connect with employees around the world on a schedule that works best for them. Arist courses allow for open two way communication, creative new content formats and can scale quickly to fit the needs of your growing remote team. Learn more and build your first course today.