Although there are advantages to working exclusively in a commute only company, the number of individuals who prefer to work remotely is on the rise. According to Gallup, a United States research firm noted that those working remotely rose to forty-three percent in 2016, up from thirty-seven percent in 2015. As these numbers rise, the misconceptions around remote work, such as decreased worker productivity, communication issues, and negative company culture, are being challenged. Companies are choosing to embrace the flexibility, mobility, and diversity that remote work offers, and are building strong multi-location companies as a result of this dynamic workforce shift.
When Let’s Nurture was only at one location it was really easy to manage. When it went from one location to multi location, remote work it was really learning curve for us. While working on various Technology solutions especially on IoT front we had to engage with various remote work possibilities product design, chip manufacturing, firmware programming & what not.These things helped us to unlearn and learn about how outsourcing some of the processes can help us ot achieve results on time.
The Misconception of Negative Company Culture With Remote Companies
When it comes to company culture, there is this misconception that outsourcing companies have an extremely hard time fostering culture than co-located teams. Although it is true that in co-located teams you can build company culture faster, this doesn’t mean that distributed teams cannot build company culture at all which is what the misconception often implies. Rather, in multi-location companies, that in-office culture has to be intentionally nurtured through different pathways that go beyond the cliche group activities of in-work ping pong and foosball tournaments. Here is how we, at Lets Nurture, suggest you go about it.
- Foster Social Connection Through Digital Tools: one of the major things missing with remote teams is the ability to walk down the hall and converse with your co-worker or stand up from your desk and motion for a colleague to come over. With remote teams, you can negate this by using digital tools that are designed for social productivity such as Slack. These types of digital communication tools will allow you to set up dedicated channels for work and for social conversation, encouraging your remote members to converse and build bonds. For instance, you can include a water-cooler-type channel, where members can share information about their favorite song of the week, what type of food they are eating for lunch, or even about what type of errands they have that day. By creating the ambient social interactions that you would typically see in-office work environments, you foster that company culture. You can also apply this to voice or video communications, where team members can drop in and out as a way to encourage connection and camaraderie with one another.
- Use Video Conferencing With Company-Wide Practices: video conferencing is a powerful way to ensure that remote meetings go smoothly. However, company-wide practices should be put in place to ensure that company protocol is followed. For instance, members who may be working in the same remote location should all dial in separately, proper noise-cancelling headphones and proper lighting must be utilized, and everyone who is present on the call must be in front of a camera. Also introduce rules around conversation, like who talks when and how to interject.
- Set Clear Expectations: make sure to use and set specific expectations. Do not tell your remote workers that they must start work at 9:00 in the morning but instead that they need to be available during these hours of operation. Beyond this, remember that plain text loses a lot of nuance when communicated, so encourage the practice of double checking that you have been understood and always clarify instructions and processes.
- Assume Positive Intent In Times of Miscommunication: in the event that an in-text conversation gets miscommunicated, ensure that the information and discussion about the event are available to the entire team who can then choose to opt in or out of the discussion. This helps foster inclusion which is an extension of company culture. In addition to this, always assume positive intent with difficult conversations as this sets the team up for a quick resolution that is without blame and guilt.
- Hire a Diverse Pool of Talent That Already Fits Your Culture: no amount of communication tools or meetings are going to work with a team member that does not fit within the company culture. Make sure that when you hire your talent pool from a diverse set of individuals, as diversity brings about innovation. When you hire individuals who are of different ages, ethnicities and have different life experiences, you add new perspectives which enrich your company culture.
- Be Intentional With Meetings: no one enjoys long and boring meetings regardless of whether you hold an in-office position or a remote position. Set the intentions of the meetings beforehand, and tell your team members whether the meeting will be well-structured and organized with a specific agenda and purpose, or whether it will be an informal meeting based in creative exploration. In doing this, your team members will know exactly what to expect and will be more inclined to participate.
- Create and Establish Well Defined Roles: an excellent way to ensure that your remote staff feels like an in-office team is to provide them with defined roles that have established procedures and workflows that intersect with one another. When each member has a role and all team members rely on one another to complete tasks, you foster a sense of community among the entire team.
Although the idea of hiring an outsourced workforce is still a relatively new employment model, for companies who want to be present across multiple locations, the cost-benefit of remote and offshore staffing cannot be ignored. Not only do outsourcing employees reduce the need for expensive in-house items like equipment and office supplies, but there is less overhead with no need for office space rentals, transportation, and utility bills. All in all, hiring a remote workforce is extremely beneficial for multi-location companies, the challenge just lies in ensuring that company culture gets nurtured. However, in so long as your company proactively keeps company culture in your sights through positive initiatives and procedures, there’s no reason for it to be sacrificed.