Work provides a sense of purpose and meaning, helping employees feel that their contributions are making a difference in the world. But in remote or hybrid environments, employees can feel disconnected from their peers and the shared goals of their organization.
This is according to a survey by Bankrate 55% of employees prefer flexibility or remote options over their salary. That explains how important flexibility is for your employees, whether they work in a remote or hybrid environment. And as the COVID-19 pandemic ushers in a new era of remote working, building and maintaining a supportive company culture has become a priority for many leaders.
As companies adopt new strategies, it has become clear that remote working is here to stay. The advantage of remote working is the two extra weekly hours (thanks to the elimination of commuting) for employees to invest in self-care, professional skills and/or personal pursuits, leading to greater satisfaction and fulfillment in work and life.
According to the United States Census Bureau, the number of remote workers has increased dramatically. From 2019 to 2021, the number will have tripled to 27.6 million people in the US. Despite concerns that remote work is undermining company culture, forward-thinking companies have used technology and creativity to foster strong cultures that benefit both employees and the company.
Here are four ideas for leaders looking to change their corporate culture to a more supportive one, whether it’s fully remote or hybrid.
1. Allow access to resources
Remote working can present challenges for employees who may not have the same resources, such as a suitable workspace, high technology or even a reliable internet connection, as their office counterparts. So they often feel left out or judged if they can’t be seen and heard as well as office workers.
Helping your employees create a work-from-home environment they love and feel confident in is the answer. Countless studies have shown that having a positive work environment improves cooperation and fairness. This also applies to hybrid workplaces.
The first way to build a supportive company culture in a remote environment is to provide employees with the resources they need to create a pleasant workspace. This includes providing them with the necessary tools, a comfortable desk and a budget for “extras” that will make them happy to be part of your remote company. By providing these resources, employers can help remote workers feel more connected to their team and maintain productivity.
2. Establish a sense of belonging
Your employees can easily feel isolated without an official environment. Take socialization initiatives that help employees connect. Encouraging employees to communicate on non-work related topics can foster a sense of community and make your team feel more connected. This helps them cope with their secluded culture, giving them almost the same atmosphere as in the office.
A thriving corporate culture does not just happen. It takes deliberate effort and planning. One way to do this is by providing opportunities for employees to connect with each other and share common interests, as Zapier and GitLab did. Zapier uses Slack channels to create a social space for employees to express their hobbies, while GitLab hosts 15-minute virtual events to help remote workers build relationships and get to know each other better.
Another company, Buffer, uses Slack’s Donut integration to host one-on-one employee sessions. And they encourage face-to-face meetings to strengthen employee bonds. GitLab also encourages face-to-face meetings and offers travel expenses to make this more attractive to their employees. This connection helps bridge the gap between remote and in-person workers.
3. Offer various remote benefits
Most entrepreneurs only limit themselves to care when it comes to employee benefits. But by providing remote benefits beyond healthcare, organizations can build a culture of support and inclusion no matter where employees are located.
Yusuf Sherwani, MD, co-founder and CEO of Quit Genius, the world’s leading virtual substance use management clinic, says, “As an organization, we are also breaking barriers to remote work and building culture by providing benefits that are equally accessible to our employees in the US, UK and around the world, but it all starts with open lines of communication between our people, the HR team, managers and leadership wherever they are.”
Provide employees with access to various wellness benefits, such as mental health, addiction treatmentand parenting groups can have a significant impact on employee satisfaction and retention. By giving equal priority to the mental and physical health of employees (especially during economic uncertainty), companies can save money.
To address this, I recommend offering mental health days that allow employees to take time off flexibly and manage their wellness needs. It is an effective way to reduce employee stress, prevent burnout and improve their well-being whether they are working remotely or in the office.
Offering benefits that align with employee preferences (such as flexibility, personal growth, financial well-being, and a sense of purpose) improves the employee value proposition. For example, Quit Genius offers a range of benefits such as unlimited PTO, a learning and development compensation program, financial health tools, a 401k plan, and an ownership plan to meet employee needs.
Providing benefits that support work-life balance, financial security, personal growth, culture and community is critical to employee satisfaction and success in all work situations. Employees who feel connected to the company’s mission and culture tend to be more engaged, collaborative and loyal, resulting in longer tenure, higher survey participation and a positive Employee Net Promoter Score.
4. Bring key stakeholders on board to drive corporate culture
Creating a new company culture can be challenging. But it is possible if you plan your steps in time. Leaders need to reinforce existing company culture or take advantage of the shift to remote work to create a new culture. This is more than just an HR responsibility. By getting the key stakeholders on board, you greatly help to maintain and promote the corporate culture.
a Harvard Business Review article emphasizes the importance of a leader’s decision during inflection points. They can choose to:
- Do nothing.
- Work on new ways to reinforce the existing culture.
- Take advantage of the shift to remote work to deeply reset the culture.
Creating a warm and fair work environment in remote environments requires a deliberate effort from leaders. As a leader, I help remote workers feel valued, interact more with them, provide feedback, and be transparent about advancement opportunities. By prioritizing the unique needs of remote workers, employers can create a supportive and inclusive culture that drives success.
A positive company culture is key to employee retention and productivity, but it takes a more conscious effort to maintain in remote environments. Home workers prefer a supportive and inclusive work culture to thrive. As a remote employer, it’s important to understand and create a culture that fits the needs of your employees. Creating opportunities for collaboration and fostering a sense of purpose can have a significant impact on your employees’ job satisfaction and productivity.