Maintaining a positive company culture with engaged employees is challenging. Doing so with a remote workforce during COVID-19 even more so.
With so many businesses struggling to survive and thrive with the restrictions placed on them during the coronavirus pandemic, there is a real danger of employees becoming "unengaged."
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, developing and working with a remote, or virtual, workforce was an option for many businesses. Today, it's a necessity and - for some - the only option for remaining a viable organization.
However, there are issues and challenges that come with managing and fostering a remote workforce.
The Challenges of Having Employees Working From Home
In addition to the upsides of have a remote workforce, much has also been written about the the downsides of managing remote teams. The two most immediate issues that arise are the problems of communication and the impact on company culture that can occur.
There are proactive steps that can be taken to mitigate these issues.
Provide a "Community" Network
Using the widely available online tools can allow you to give your workers a shared and informal community portal for chatting, sharing, reaching out and simply staying "in touch" with co-workers. This is akin to the proverbial "water cooler effect" that most brick-and-mortar organizations experience.
According to an article at FlexJobs,
"There’s a renewed belief among some employers that creative fires stay lit when people are in close physical proximity and can brainstorm in person and bounce ideas off one another. Those employers are committed to the idea that innovation is now the number one business driver, and that the “water-cooler effect” drives innovation and keeps organizations competitive. Some big companies are limiting telecommuting for just that reason: to get team members back together in brick-and-mortar locations."
However, there are ways to approximate this with technology. The article suggests implementing the following:
Establish communication that encourages interaction.
Remote workers can feel more engaged with their colleagues and in completing shared tasks and reaching organizational goals.
Convey how staying motivated and meeting deadlines go hand-in-hand.
The goal is to keep inspiration at the forefront, along with ways to help workers avoid feeling disengaged and stay on task to meet goals and deadlines.
Check in early and often.
Virtual meetings are essential to helping your team feel connected. Minimize big group meetings and opt for more one-on-one meetings or small group virtual meet-ups.
Keep communication continual.
To help remote workers feel in-the-loop, set a great example by staying connected and available as much as possible.
Make it fun.
Keep virtual meetings task-focused, and at the same time engineer a fun factor into interactions that helps eliminate the “dread factor” that such meetings can sometimes engender.
Reward innovation no matter where your employees work.
Set up a formalized company program that shows appreciation and rewards workers for collaboration, engagement with the company’s mission, and interaction with fellow team members.
It is vital to make use of technology to maintain workforce community and participation as much as possible, and to maintain and encourage communication where and when needed.
Articulate Company Values and Culture
Distance, separation and isolation are very real and potentially disengaging factors that come with working remotely. Employers and managers can do quite a bit to minimize the impact of these dynamics with both intentional strategies and technology.
An article from Inc. magazine online offers these suggestions for build and support your company culture outside of the physical work space.
History is a key part of culture. What challenges did you overcome to get where you are today? These challenges can become legends of the company that are passed on from veteran team members to new ones, and create a sense of kinship that no logos can create. How can you do this? Tell your story.
A company vision can provide the direction toward which the whole team is headed.
Make sure your vision is genuine. Your vision is meaningless if it's not authentic.
Actively foster buy-in. Communicate your vision - and explain it.
While the vision defines where the company is going, values are the signposts that guide staff on how to get there. You should do that in two ways:
Communicate your values. Identify your company's core values and make sure they are true guideposts for you and your team. Then let everyone know about them.
Live your values. Ultimately, values work only when leaders live and exhibit them.
Maintaining Engagement and Culture Requires Intention and Strategy
What do you want in your company culture? Among other things, and environment that embodies the pursuit of creating a positive work experience for employees, no matter where they are. Two key aspects of this experience is the valuing and recognizing of your workers.
Why is this critical? According to a Forbes article,
"Put simply, an engaged culture marked by high levels of involvement, consistency, adaptability, and a transparent mission improves sales and customer satisfaction."
Developing and fostering an ideal workplace culture that embodies your company’s values begins with strong leadership. It is the leadership of your organization that must create and nurture a company culture that incorporates the company’s mission and vision.
Whether that "workplace" is physical or virtual, the dynamics remain the same and must be managed both intentionally and strategically. Communication, culture and engagement will not happen organically.
Your Remote Workforce Management Partner
HR staff have a growing and demanding role in recruiting, hiring, and continually training employees. In addition, they are responsible for other functions such as employee development, payroll management, employee records compliance, and managing employee benefits.
Outsourcing is increasingly becoming a cost-effective and strategic option. Accuchex can help you in managing your HR needs, payroll processes, and staying on top of compliance demands.
Get your Free Download: Payroll Outsourcing Guide to help you make an informed decision or call Accuchex Payroll Management Services at 877-422-2824.