Published: November 03, 2020 | Comments
This article first appeared in HDI.
Company culture is a critical part of business success, touching virtually every part of a business, and is considered one of the greatest elements in creating an enjoyable workplace. In fact, research from Deloitte found that 94% of executives and 84% of employees believe a distinct corporate culture is important to a business’ success.
A positive company culture can ultimately lead to increased employee motivation and dedication, resulting in better business results. While implementing company culture is far from a new concept, sometimes the defined culture doesn’t translate as well to remote workers, and this can produce lackluster results.
Businesses have more remote workers than ever before and that will likely remain because of the pandemic. This is especially true as businesses gain insights and cost savings, particularly in certain sectors like technology – the realization is that remote working could be the way of the future.
When the pandemic first emerged, businesses had to quickly shift employees to remote working. The shift for some wasn’t seamless, but over time as best practices and learnings were put in place, employers and employees alike made the “new normal” work. Of course, there are major drawbacks to remote working, like the lack of face-to-face communication, and companies have had to put strategies and tools in place to keep employees engaged. This is where a carefully executed, positive company culture can really shine.
Culture is often regarded as a top method to long-term business success. What makes it such an impactful practice and how does it translate into remote teams?
Let’s take a closer look.
The importance of company culture
Today’s business professionals are looking for a career with a stable company that has a clear mission and values, and embodies a community in which they may participate, influence, and flourish. Businesses can create their own destiny, especially with remote teams, by defining or reestablishing their company culture.
An authentic, positive company culture can drive remote teams to do great things. Some of the benefits can include:
Job satisfaction – When your remote teams feel valued, they are happier and more dedicated.
Better collaboration – Companies with strong culture find employees are more likely to come together and be more engaged in teamwork.
Performance – As employees feel more invested in, they become more motivated and tend to accomplish more. This translates into new ideas or processes, increased efficiencies, additional revenue, and more.
Decrease in stress levels – A positive culture can help reduce employee stress levels. In turn, you may see a boost in work performance.
Company culture is critical to the success of any remote working team. It's the intangible quality that imbues colleagues with the trust to do things that will contribute to the organizational goals. Without a sense of responsibility, it would be difficult for team members to find purpose in their work and to get things done. When working from home there is a relied-upon freedom for employees to try new things and to organize their own working days with an increased autonomy in the confidence that mistakes will not be detrimental to their professional future.
Establishing company culture
An organization’s leadership must fully believe and embrace the established company culture. If they’re not behind it, it will never permeate into the rest of the employee base. Leadership should be touting it verbally, but also showing corresponding actions in support of the culture.
It is also important that there is always an influential team member or department that is mindful of the sought-after culture and can effect change if certain activities do not reflect it. A company culture should help serve as a vetting process for all initiatives – if a new direction or idea doesn’t follow what the company has defined itself out, it should not be pursued.
To instill a company culture for remote teams, people managers must lead by example, ensuring that deadlines are realistic, that micromanagement is kept to a minimum, and that there is a genuine attempt to gauge the mental wellbeing of their direct reports.
Widely communicating on multiple channels the success stories and colleague initiatives for working from home and getting the job done can become habit over time and should be encouraged from all individuals. Regularly asking for feedback should be a two-way conversation, and having a mechanism in place to ensure that this line of communication is consistent and transparent is of paramount importance. Getting the basics right in terms of providing team members with the necessary resources to do their job can ensure that there is dedicated time to focus on the more societal elements of working as a group. Quite often in an office the most interesting conversations and ideas occur in the break-out areas and it is important to facilitate this when colleagues are working from different locations.
Fostering company culture
A working culture is a combination primarily between how well the hiring policy reflects the profiles desired to inhabit such a way of working and how well the management team reinforces these qualities when possible. Certain cultural aspects, like flat hierarchy and an open-door policy, only become engrained when initial effort is made to execute the desired culture across the organization.
The desired company culture cannot be something simply promoted to support recruitment efforts. It must be cemented into organizational practices and values, from the top to the frontline. Otherwise, the culture falls flat and can be perceived essentially as a marketing tactic for talent search activities or, worse, as an inept strategy to appease failing employee morale.
Certain cultural elements will form naturally, as they will be reflective of the broader societal trends in which the business resides. We must reinforce culture where possible, especially for new starters as they may have become used to an alternative way of working at their previous employer. And feedback is always key, because how the CEO perceives a strand of working culture may not be how it is felt by the regular team members. Being open to how a working culture evolves over time is also a healthy approach to take as your way of working must always compliment the demands and goals of the company. Your approach to work, like the industry you operate in, will not stand still, and your culture must reflect these changes for continued success.
Company culture as a recruitment tool
This is a bonus of having an effective company culture, and it’s worth noting as businesses evolve and grow. A strong, positive culture is one of the best recruitment strategies, as it gives your company a competitive advantage. People overwhelmingly want to work at a business with a clear purpose, vision, and strategy. These days, candidates are looking for a career – a place they can really contribute and provide value to – and in return, they want the company to support them. If this is what your company can offer, you will naturally appeal to top talent.
The benefits of company culture are clear. Remote teams are sometimes left out of the equation when businesses think about strategies for engagement and inclusion, but now more than ever remote teams are growing and are part of the business landscape for the foreseeable future. It is important to bring company culture to remote teams to motivate and drive greater performance. The keys are to be authentic and consistent from the top down and to foster relationships, creative thinking, and conversations that leave remote teams feeling supported. Make this a priority now so that in the next quarter and beyond, you may see some impressive business results.