7 ways to engage remote employees in company culture
By blake beus in Culture
A strong, vibrant company culture is one of the pillars of success for any business. It helps build morale, encourages teamwork, and builds a strong professional community. With the flexibility of today’s communication technology, it’s become more common for companies to hire employees who work remotely. It’s deceptively easy to neglect remote employees when it comes to building company culture since they are typically not involved with the day-to-day routines, but it’s a mistake that should absolutely be avoided. Here are seven ways that companies can keep remote employees involved and engaged with company culture.
Here are seven things that can bring remote employees more fully into the culture.
According to Blake Beus in an article for Training Journal, “By design, employee onboarding is a tool that helps to quickly engage a new hire and help them find their place in the culture of an organization.” This tool is an effective way to introduce all new hires into the culture, he continues.
This is not limited to employees who work onsite. Remote employees also benefit from an early immersion into the company culture. This helps set expectations for communication both to and from remote employees.
Utilize Face Time
There many different apps for communication that can be implemented to ensure remote workers have as much face time as they require. These same technologies are invaluable tools for updating and reinforcing company culture.
According to an article on Business News Daily, “When the whole team is working, a voice or video conference call can go a long way to encourage group collaboration.” And when remote and onsite employees collaborate culture can flourish.
Implement Team Building Sessions
Team building sessions do not need to force remote employees to meet anywhere, because that may be logistically improbable in some cases. In an article on his blog, Dr. Rick Goodman suggests to “consider hosting a webinar ‘lunch and learn’ event for your team members, allowing them to come together…and apply their minds to a topic of shared interest.”
These types of sessions encourage engagement and can promote a healthy culture between onsite and remote employees.
Give Conference Call Priority
Jacob Morgan in his podcast, The Future in 5, suggests that during conference calls remote employees be given the priority to speak. This he proposes can be accomplished by not only giving them the first opportunity to speak on a subject, but allowing only them to interject when someone else is speaking.
The purpose of this practice is to encourage remote employee participation, and, as they cannot read body language because of their virtual interaction, it allows them to communicate freely. Thus, promoting their full engagement.
Encourage Water Cooler Talk
Many of the methods we have discussed encourage communication via apps and activities. Encouraging communication is one of the paramount practices that can be done to help keep remote employees engaged. With an emphasis on more communication there can be a tendency for employees to engage in Water Cooler talk.
In the past Water Cooler talk has been frowned on. However, it has been found that limited Water Cooler talk can lead to higher levels of engagement as it keeps employees from going into autopilot mode.
In the case of remote employees, having a Slack channel or text thread where they can engage in Water Cooler talk may be just the thing to keep remote employees grounded in the company culture.
Integrate Virtual Presence Physically
In an article on 6Q Blog, Miles Burke encourages companies to “be aware that social interaction is limited in a…remote team,” and that it is important to “focus on spending more time with the new employee on creating familiarity and team bonding.”
There are several ways to achieve this. They range from encouraging face time, to having a wall lined with the faces and names remote employees. In this way, remote employees are not falling to the risk of being out of sight out of mind.
Embrace Remote Culture
Some employees are more productive in the office, and some are more productive remotely. It is a fact. All employees are unique. Regarding how this relates to culture, HelpScout co-founder Nick Francis states, “When an office culture makes exceptions for remote people, rather than embracing remote culture wholeheartedly, it doesn’t work.”
It takes a little bit of effort to fully embrace remote employees into your company’s culture, but doing so is a great way to help all of your employees see that you value the work that they do.