The best practices to develop a healthy remote-first company culture

November 29th, 11:39 pm

Remote work is becoming a trend in today’s business world, and for good reason. The ability to hire the best talent from anywhere is the competitive edge. It’s a huge opportunity for companies to hire the best people from diverse backgrounds and locations, and to make a difference in their lives and communities. Nowadays, more and more people prefer to work from home, so it’s quite common for businesses to have a remote-first team. But what does it take to create a healthy remote-first company culture?

The importance of company culture

A shared culture of work that empowers employees to take on tough roles, manage themselves, and contribute is essential for a positive company culture. Not only is it a necessity, but it’s also the best way to reach and retain top talent. According to a report by NewHire, 73% of the recruiters surveyed said that company culture was the top driver in the decision-making process. You can’t build a happy, productive work culture with remote employees if they aren’t empowered if they don’t have access to what’s going on, or to each other. The question is: what defines company culture? How to build a remote-first company culture? Truth is, all succesful remote companies have a strong sense of community, trust and teamwork. Take Gitlab or Sketch for instance, a common set of values that everyone can identify with from the start has defined their company culture as well as their hiring process and talented pool.

Stay away from employee monitoring tools

A lot of business owners believe that employees waste time when they work remotely. The truth is that employees are more efficient when they work from home. Which is why the best company culture is focused on transparency and trust. You shouldn’t use employee monitoring tools, as they are invasive and show a lack of trust right from the start. Instead built upon an anonimous feedback tool if you feel like you can gather enough information from 1:1 conversations.

The importance of company communication

Because of the absence of a physical office, team members often need to rely on communication devices. Some companies offer team-wide meetings to clarify issues and decisions. It’s a good thing, but it can be a challenge for companies that have a lot of remote team members. The team manager needs to monitor the communication flow and to control it so that it doesn’t slow down. If team members don’t get the proper updates or reminders, it can affect the entire project, and create a huge burden on team members. Incorporate the power of empathy to develope a healthy team. People need to disconnect from each other and set clear work boundaries between thei most direct peers at work.

Encourage everyone to communicate and share feedback

A great remote-first company culture focuses on communication. Even if the entire team is remote, it’s extremely important to connect with one another, ask for feedback and see what can be improved, and some companies start offering this via audio-only too, like Yak. Allowing everyone to speak their mind and listening to what they have to say is very productive. It also encourages every employee to deliver their best, which leads to more productivity and higher profits.

The importance of regular meetings

As mentioned before, having daily, weekly, or monthly reviews helps teams to make progress. This helps them identify and solve problems in the shortest time possible. It’s especially important to encourage meetings that produce tangible results and demonstrate your appreciation for their efforts. So how do you manage those weekly meetings? A great idea is to keep them on a calendaring service, such as Woven sync with your team, so you can check-in when you are free and have all your information at your fingertips. If you’re not the kind of person who likes to make long video calls, then consider setting up short async video snippet using a third-party app like Comeet.

Offer the best remote infrastructure

Make sure that your team has all they need in order to work efficiently. Using tools like TeamFlow for example boost team management and it also makes tracking tasks a lot easier. You can also rely on cloud solutions for storing and sharing documents. Google Drive or Dropbox will do just fine here. For your payrolls, solutions like Panther make it way simple to manage your employees from 'almost' anywhere in the globe. The idea is to constantly bring in the best remote work solutions and implement them wisely. Your team will be happy and a lot more productive.

The importance of accountability

One key factor in building a healthy, remote-first company culture is accountability. As human beings, we all blame others when something goes wrong. When you’re working on a team remotely, it’s very easy to blame other people for mistakes that happen. People tend to blame technology for all their problems instead of themselves and because you can’t be in the office and think about what to do when you have to deal with these kinds of issues, the effect is like a snowball.

Approach this from a different angle. Set up process flow that records each decision and decision-owner. Well-known process such as Agile and Scrum help create a very dynamic loop were people are accountable for their tasks and timespams. Tools like Notion can help you set up an entire Documentaion and Kanva view with low-friction.

Automation is key

Finding ways to automate tasks for your remote team can be very important. You do want to make sure that you focus on ways that increase workflow efficiency. Automating even the simplest tasks will open up more time for your team to work on those things that really matter. Tools like Zapier will make your work feel so easy.

The importance of leadership

You have to lead through action. I’m a big believer in giving teams autonomy. You want to empower them to do what’s best for the team. That’s the leadership aspect. And what’s really important in that leadership is the ability to provide guidance to help teams get ready to give feedback on how things could be better. The high amount of trust needs, come from developing physcological safety net with your team. Be very open, with no secrets. If someone thinks something is off, just say it. As companies grow and hire more people, each organizational division needs to communicate better and be more and more focused within their direct peers.

The importance of work/life balance

A common perception is that working from home is just a more convenient way to work, but in fact, it’s a potential workplace disaster. We are creatures of habit and work best in our usual environment, so the thought of spending the whole day in a different one can be very uncomfortable. We also get used to our regular tasks and work quickly. When you work from home, it takes a while to adjust to being away from the routines and the regular things. Create healthy dynamics for your employees to enjoy flexibility and breaks between hours. It’s not always possible to have lunch, walk with your team or to meet for dinner and chat. But you can still create new intersting dynamics like the one we suggested in this Forbes article.

Perform team building activities

The truth is that it can be difficult to connect with each other when most of the team works remotely. That’s why the best approach here is to have all kinds of team building activities from facilitated to icebreaks. Something as simple as discussing movies, sharing ideas and even playing some games while social distancing can help a lot. You want to help your team relax and unwind, so any remote team building activities will help a lot.

Conclusion

Using these tips and tricks will make it easier than ever to develop a healthy remote work mentality. You always want to make sure that you commit to the idea of having a remote team and assist them the best way that you can. Everything from delivering the right remote work infrastructure to having great ideas for virtual events will help a lot. Flexible work is the future, so having a remote-first company culture can set your business apart!

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