Remote work, virtual culture, telecommuting, work-from-home or in a virtual setting…the idea has become such a hot topic of discussion lately that we’ve managed to create about a million different, nuanced terms for it. But whatever you want to call it, one thing is certain – it is becoming an increasingly mainstream way to work.
In past blog posts and other BELAY publications, we’ve explained why remote work has gained such widespread acceptance. In short, it leads to happier, healthier, and more productive employees; while also saving employers considerable sums of money in real estate and other infrastructure-related costs.
What are the benefits of remote work culture?
The benefits of remote work are both numerous and compelling. But, it isn’t without its challenges. Across the many, many studies done on the subject, one challenge in particular has been consistent – remote employees feel more isolated, and less connected to their coworkers.
That’s a major issue, and one that could potentially undo some of the benefits that remote work brings. The good news, however, is that it can be overcome. And one of the key ways to do so is by cultivating a strong remote work culture.
What is remote work culture?
In the corporate setting, remote work culture refers to the shared values, behaviors, and beliefs that unify a geographically diverse team, and guide them towards common goals.
It’s an inspiring idea, but it isn’t easy to implement. The literal, physical space separating virtual team members can easily manifest as emotional and interpersonal distance as well. Because of this, leaders of remote workforces must be even more committed to establishing and cultivating a robust culture.
To do this, you must remain explicit, vocal, and intentional about your company’s identity and culture.
Be Your Culture’s Best Spokesperson!
The greatest spokespersons aren’t just cheerleaders. They are also educators. That means that you must clearly define your remote work culture before you can effectively promote it. To bridge the geographical gaps between your virtual team, you need to communicate your company’s culture in both clear and inspiring ways. Start by creating a “manifesto” – a document that defines your corporate identity, its values, and its guiding principles… in the most definite terms possible. At BELAY, we have a very strict “no gossip” rule, for example. We believe that gossip is toxic to teams in all its forms, without exception. So, we make that incredibly clear to everyone who joins our virtual organization. We are explicit about it as a rule, and also about why it is a rule. Most often, it is that “why” which best defines cultures, not the rules themselves.
Be Your Own Model Citizen!
A leader can bang the drum of mission statements day and night, but unless they actually march to the beat, no one else will. The best way to cultivate your virtual culture is to abide by and embody it every single day. Lead by example, and if the culture is an effective one, it will catch on in no time. Provide feedback, express gratitude, get to know your team on a personal level, make an effort to humanize yourself in the eyes of your employees. When you do these things, your team will undoubtedly follow suit. Remember, most people want to feel that they are part of something greater than themselves. And they definitely want to feel connected to their coworkers. They don’t need convincing of those things. They need an environment that nurtures and promotes them.
They need a remote work culture that allows personal connections to flourish… no matter the distance.
Later this month, we’ll look at the other key ingredient in creating a connected virtual team – technology. Check back in on June 15 to learn some of the best tools for bringing your virtual workforce together.