You’ve invested in building an amazing workplace and a strong corporate culture, and these will always endure, even as you adapt and start the exciting journey of having employees work from home. At Goodway Group, we’re proof of that, and we can confidently say remote work works: Since 2008, our employees have been working remotely, and we’ve thrived. Now you can too. If you’re wondering how to maintain your culture, support your talent, invest in the right tools and help your employees collaborate and strike a healthy work/life balance, here are our best tips and tricks to encourage and inspire you for remote workforce success:
Embrace Your Corporate Culture
The first thing you should do is believe working remotely is a valid way to work and embrace it. Don’t treat employees working remotely any differently than you would if they were in a centralized setting. Develop and practice cultural norms. For example, here at Goodway, we share a weekly internal blog with all employees to focus on our shared values. Also, be sure to reach out and talk with your employees often. Taking time to send a virtual hello will go a long way to making everyone feel cared for, noticed and appreciated.
Of course, working remotely is not a perfect science – there’s no right or wrong way to go about it. So, expect a few bumps and ups and downs as you find your way and evolve.
Nurture and Support Your Employees
Support your team by helping them shift their mindsets to embrace virtual work practices. Establish firm rules of conduct, such as office hours and work space expectations, and be available. Do what you say you’re going to do to build trust with your team and be as open and transparent as possible. Share your work calendar (and include personal tasks on it as well) so your team knows when they can reach you if the need arises.
Use technology to communicate well and regularly: When you do, adjust how you communicate, coach and support your employees. Lead them based on their distinct personalities and needs. For instance, set up weekly check-ins or have stand-up meetings so you can better get to know them, track their progress and provide opportunities for professional growth.
Above all, remember to be flexible; focus on employees’ achievements, not on the hours worked. And always be looking for new ways to gauge success and celebrate wins.
Find Effective Virtual Tools
Finding the right online tools that mirror a live office experience is crucial to how your remote workforce operates day to day. Choose a good social chat system (we like Microsoft Teams) so employees have a way to instantly connect, communicate and share. And look for tools that offer features, such as whiteboarding, virtual sticky notes and polls.
Keep all your online work tools in one place so they’re easy to find by using a single sign-on (SSO) software (we use Okta). And document everything. Record meetings, strategy sessions, industry discussions, best practices and more and build out an internal searchable wiki (such as Confluence) to house this knowledge so employees can access any info they need at any time. Get an effective file-sharing system too, preferably a shared drive (check out Egnyte) so you have a place to store, organize and work on project files in real time. Another tip? Tag employees with the @ symbol on documents, emails and chats to help them keep track of projects and to-dos.
Embracing virtual tools like these can only make your organization stronger and more organized over time, no matter if you continue working remotely or return to your routine work environment.
Keep Connecting and Collaborating
Love the camera: For conference calls, consider investing in robust video conferencing software (Zoom is good!). Requiring face-to-face interaction not only helps your calls feel more like regular in-office meetings but also minimizes multitasking.
Make team bonding a priority so your employees can continue connecting and collaborating well. Keep up a little small talk before you get down to business. This goes a long way to building relationships, making authentic connections, strengthening teams and increasing productivity when working remotely. And don’t forget the fun – try a quick ice breaker at the start of a video call or reserve an hour each month for your team to hop on a video call to do a fun activity, play a game or have a nice chat during happy hour.
Beyond immediate team bonding, give employees virtual opportunities to get to know others throughout your organization. Keep them connected by hosting virtual events and building virtual communities and pods. For instance, offer a range of virtual groups employees can join, such as health, wellness and life hack groups, book clubs and more.
Be sure to get employees together regularly in person too. At Goodway, we bring together local groups occasionally for lunch and coworking. And twice a year, our whole company gathers in one place for a full week of meetings, activities and fun. In fact, each all-company trip always feels like a huge celebration, or like a big family reunion with our extended work family. So much so, it’s not uncommon for employees to take their own vacation time to fly in the weekend before and meet up with colleagues from around the country for shared fun.
Encourage Work/Life Balance
When working remotely, do your best to help employees achieve work/life balance. Encourage employees to set boundaries around their work and trust they will get the job done without a lot of heavy monitoring. Offering a little flexibility and autonomy are keys to keeping morale high.
Also, remind employees they can step away from their desks regularly – to stretch, go to lunch, take a break or knock out a quick errand or task they normally wouldn’t be able to tackle in a regular office environment. That way, they stay happy, healthy and productive. And when distractions – kids, pets or visitors – happen (which they will!), remember we’re only human and give yourself and your employees grace.
When you manage your virtual workforce in these 5 ways – through culture, talent, tools, collaboration and integration – you’ll get amazing feedback that can help you test new things, and you’ll learn what works for your organization and what will make it even better. Interested in learning more about working remotely and remote work best practices? Visit goodwaygroup.com/remotework.
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