Is it complicated to maintain a strong culture when working remotely? This was one of the questions that came up as we decided to go fully remote. I wondered if we needed to make changes. What is the difference anyway?
The first thing I found out was that the methods of building a strong culture remotely v’s in-office are very similar. The foundations are the same, you just need to make some adjustments to the way in which you do things.
Inspired by good practices from the amazing teams at Zoom and Trello, we’ve created a 5 step guide for laying the foundations of healthy work culture:
Most of us would like to make a change in the world, and since we spend the majority of our time at work, it would be great if we could do this during our working hours.
It is important to have a powerful purpose and to communicate it clearly, the idea is that your team will feel the passion and motivation required to fulfill it. At Fuckup Nights, our purpose is “to help people break free from the paradigms that limit their lives”. What’s yours?
After you’ve defined your purpose, it becomes easier to create values and set objectives:
It is important to select new employees based on your values. As EntreLeadership advises, it is much easier to train a person than to make them change their values and mentalities. Hire people that believe in what you are doing and compliment your ideas with their own.
When you hire employees over team members, you might hire the best in the market, but these people are not necessarily what your team and company needs. This method is often expensive for your organization and can result in a high turnover of staff.
It is vital to provide your onboarding process to every new employee wherever they are based (in the office, at home, in another country or time-zone). This requires you to create online processes (or adapt those you already have) from the interview to the welcome meeting, get to know the newcomer virtually. It’s important to make every employee, no matter where they are, feel part of the organisation.
Trello explains their hiring and onboarding processes are completely online. The interviews are online, and they welcome new members at a monthly meeting. Also they host meetings for team members to get to know each other and build team relationships.
To keep the spark alive in your team, it is important to compensate for the moments you would usually like to share in the same space. The idea is to create rituals and make time to share them with your team. One idea is to have retreats to meet in person, it’s really great if you can gather the whole team together at least once a year.
At Fuckup we have our annual retreat and it’s a great moment to share, create and straighten the team.
It’s vital to have a clear communication process and to assign certain channels depending on the priority level and urgency of each communication. This means choosing the right time and channel for your message (chat, video call or email) to avoid saturation and interrupting work flow.
There are lots of recommended activities that you can implement for your team as you spend some time together, share experiences and lift spirits.
Every Friday we have FUN Friday meetings. An hour in which we present a personal interest, hacks to improve our productivity, brainstorm new ideas, introduce new members, or just take a moment to talk and get to know each other better. While remote working we’ve implemented a 20 minutes catch up each Monday to say hi, share how we’re feeling and have a moment together over the distance.
We strongly recommend these quick lectures from Zoom and Bakken & Baeck with a lot of great ideas to foster a healthy coexistence. The ones we liked the most are:
It is important to try to compensate your team equally. At Trello they decided to compensate all team members based on their headquarters in NYC. We understand that budget and employee compensations are complicated, but seeking for equality is always a healthy practice for maintaining healthy teams.
Equal compensation is important to have a base for everyone and to give a sense of equality. In this way all team members have the same salaries and benefits regardless of where they are, giving them a sense of equality and belonging.
A lot of organizations were 100% remote, even before the current crisis. Always try to maintain flexibility and a willingness to change or improve your way of doing things, seek out help from experts, and share good practices! Remember to be true to your purpose and to not panic.
If you want to tell us about how you are maintaining your culture during this time we’re always happy to learn and share ideas.
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