To Create a Stellar Remote Work Culture, Keep These Key Factors in Mind – Rolling Stone

Build a high end the culture of remote work does not happen overnight. It takes planning, trial and error, and innovative approaches. It’s also a process that requires many different ingredients to be successful, such as implementing the right communication tools, creating pathways for socialization, and coordinating time zones.

I’ve been running a remote business for nearly a decade, and over the years a few factors in particular have proven to be critical when it comes to creating a great remote work culture. Of course, these factors are by no means the only those that matter, but those are things I learned (sometimes the hard way).

Hiring in geographic pockets

I know this sounds counterintuitive to the notion of remote work, but be patient. Many remote companies take the approach of hiring people nationally or globally. While remote work makes this possible, I think it’s best to modify this approach slightly – by hiring groups of people in geographic pockets.

For example, you might hire three people in Houston, four in San Antonio, seven in Seattle, and eight in Denver. These employees would still be working from home, but they also have the option of meeting in person for work sessions at cafes, grabbing drinks during happy hours, or maybe even taking weekend trips. These in-person meetings can foster greater team cohesion than a Zoom hangout could ever achieve.

Another advantage? It reduces time zone headaches. Since groups of your employees will be working in the same or fairly close time zones, it will be easier to schedule meetings where everyone can be present during “standard” working hours.

Deployment of a “Culture Buddy” system

When people start a new job, they not only have to learn how to perform their tasks, but also understand how to navigate the culture of their new company. Understanding company culture is easier and faster for in-person workers, as they can do things like have lunch with new team members and observe how people interact.

Remote companies need to be more intentional to let people know about the cultural element. This is where a cultural buddy system is beneficial.

The Rolling Stone Culture Council is an invitation-only community for influencers, innovators and creatives. Am I eligible?

With this system, you pair each new employee with an existing employee (their grow buddy) who can show them the ropes. The Culture Buddy can introduce the new employee to other team members, answer questions related to the new employee’s culture, help the new employee navigate the company hierarchy, and more. The new employee finally feels less isolated and as if he has an ally in his corner.

At my company, we call our cultural buddy system “Jedi and Padawan” (because I’m a Star Wars geek). We have seen our system help employees both socially and professionally. On the one hand, it has increased our employees’ level of comfort with their work. It also allowed our employees to integrate into our processes more quickly. Overall, with this system, new hires become full members of the team much faster than they would if we left them to their own devices.

Help everyone get to know each other

For a team to thrive, especially a remote team, it’s essential that people get to know each other. These connections help everyone get along so projects can move forward and results can be achieved.

Remote teams don’t have the same opportunities as in-person teams to connect spontaneously, like bumping into each other in the hallway or grabbing lunch on the spur of the moment. Sure, they can spontaneously link to a great GIF response in a Slack channel or a fun background on Zoom, but I don’t recommend business owners depend on those possibilities. Instead, I recommend intentionally create opportunities for your team members to get to know each other.

One approach involves fun and games. For example, in my company, we go to Zoom, and everyone enters a code to play Kahoot’s gamified quizzes. Thanks to these quizzes that we set up through Kahoot’s platform, employees can share information about their lives, such as their pets and the music they currently listen to. Of course, the caveat to helping everyone get to know each other is that you have to recognize that people have different comfort levels with sharing details about their lives. If an employee does not want to discuss too deeply, for example, their pets or their artistic interests, do not insist.

Create a sense of community

Common ties help unite people. This is one of the reasons college alumni groups and sports fanbases exist.

It’s no different in the workplace. Creating a sense of community with your employees will help them feel more dedicated to the company and build a strong community. There are many ways to do this. My company, for example, has an internal newsletter called “Above the Fold” which is regularly sent to everyone (our team is also involved in creating the newsletter – they came up with the name and contributed content). The newsletter updates the team on things like compliments from our customers, new hires and company changes. Besides helping people feel connected, the newsletter also ensures that no one is left in the dark about what’s going on.

Ultimately, when your team members understand each other, get along, bond, and feel strongly connected, your business will have a major advantage.

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