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Cracking the Culture Code for Remote Employees

Posted by Eric Friedman

culture remote employees eSkill

Among the many benefits enjoyed by the 21st century workforce are the concept and practice of flexible locality. While jobs like retail and labor often require their employees’ physical presence to get the job done, more and more workers are taking their careers off-site and enjoying the freedom that comes with that. But without direct daily contact, how do you maintain solid connections and make remote employees a part of your company culture? It can be a tricky balancing act, but quite a few companies are accomplishing that quite successfully.

Use online spaces to your advantage

Almost everyone engages with at least some form of social media – the available platforms and proprietary solutions are nearly limitless. By providing your employees a virtual place to interact with each other in the fun, “water cooler” casual conversation that many people look for in a work environment, you can provide a vital experience and a necessary outlet.

  • Don’t overthink it. Only impose as much supervision and as many rules as absolutely necessary.
  • Do offer incentives for getting involved. Many online employers provide bonuses for people who comment or contribute the most.
  • Refrain from engineering or micro-managing the online engagement. Unless issues like sexual harassment make it necessary, engage casually, and don’t monopolize the conversation or insist on setting an agenda.

Distance doesn’t have to mean separation

Since a company with a preponderance of remote workers will probably never have a softball or bowling league, younger generations have come up with some new ideas. Why not encourage online gaming? From sports to fantasy to military conquest, there are multiple platforms that allow for group activity and interaction among participants.

  • Get input from employees about what their potential interests.
  • Offer help, but allow them to set the agenda.
  • Set up a company league with multiple teams, or build a company team to compete on a larger scale.

Let go of old modalities

Not everything about the good old days was good. One thing that can be relegated to the trash heap without being missed is micromanagement of employees. They don’t like it, it’s a time-suck for you, and it often produces resentment and lowers productivity. So kiss micromanaging good-bye happily!

  • Set up accountability frameworks that put the employees in control. You may be surprised at how well independent workers can self-manage.
  • Work with employees to set schedules for those times that scheduled interaction is required. Getting them to own the calendar will reduce resistance to meetings and scheduled tasks.
  • Stay open to suggestions – the best systems are those that work for everybody.

Take time to communicate

Whether it’s via FaceTime or Skype or occasional face-to-face meetings, get to know your team. Communicate regularly about work expectations and other aspects of your working relationships.

  • One size does not always fit all. Give each employee what they need to succeed. Some will require more time than others.
  • Be sure to celebrate successes, and remind employees of their value to your organization on a regular basis.
  • Make your communication personal by getting to know your employees. Send birthday cards, ask about milestones in their personal lives, and find other ways to let them know you care.

Are you managing a remote team? Let us know, in the comments section, what’s your secret to building a company culture among your remote employees.

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About Eric Friedman

Author

Eric Friedman is the founder and CEO of eSkill Corporation, a leading provider of Web-based skills testing for pre-employment and training. With academic degrees in Psychology and Business, and experience with both mature and expansion-stage company growth, Eric has focused on how best to hire and motivate team members to be the best they can be for their companies.

3 COMMENTS Join the discussion
  • Erin M. December, 03, 2015

    No employee likes micromanagement. It can show lack of trust in the people you work with. Why would you hire remote employees if you do not trust them to perform in the first place? A schedule that works for you and the employee, combined with communication, is always the best thing.

  • Amber P. December, 05, 2015

    Creating a positive work “culture” for remote employees is becoming mission critical, not only to attract and retain top talent, but also to grow the company. And learning not only to manage it but to manage it effectively may just be the magic wand that separates the successful companies from the ones that get left in the dust.

  • Kendall D. December, 08, 2015

    More and more companies turn to remote employees, so a strategy to include them in the company’s culture is mandatory. In a world of online activity, anyone can adopt your suggestions and make these employees feel like a part of the company. 

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Guest December, 08, 2015