Building an extraordinary culture, for any organization, is not an easy undertaking. It requires intention, planning, clarity of expectations, and continual teaching and reinforcement. If you have remote employees, the process might feel even more daunting. The reality is that many organizations rely on remote employees to fill important roles on their team. By following many of the same steps we teach in our Fundamentals System, you can have great success in helping your remote employees become integrated into your organization while becoming significant contributors to your team. Here are seven key ingredients required to do just that:
- Select the right people. Not everyone can operate effectively on a remote basis. It requires discipline and the ability to work independently. Make sure a prospective employee is a fit with company culture and the ability to work on a hybrid (remote and onsite) team. Career history and accomplishments are indicators of ones’ ability to be effective on a remote basis. Behaviorally based interview questions and recruiting tools such as PeopleBest and Predictive Index can also help.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Prevent the feeling of isolation by keeping remote team members in the loop. Create regular opportunities to engage remote team members. Some companies encourage a “virtual water cooler” where they encourage regular, informal communication between team members (remote to remote, remote to home office). Keep them apprised and part of the decision making process whenever appropriate. Don’t only reach out to follow up on business matters, reach out just to check in and show that you care. Use technology to keep in touch. Apps such as our own CultureWise are great tools to increase touch points with our remote team members, while delivering important culture related content (with little or no effort on your part).
- Know the individual. Some remotes will require more interaction while others might thrive on the independence. By understanding what makes them tick, we can tailor our approach to leverage their personal style.
- Provide acknowledgement. Some may prefer it be private while others seek more public acknowledgement. Yet, we all need it. Make certain you have a process in place to regularly provide meaningful acknowledgement to your remotes.
- Bring in to your corporate office when you can. Most remote employees appreciate the opportunity to visit the home office. The opportunity to meet “face to face” goes a long way in developing relationships. It’s also an important way of reinforcing where and how the team member fits into the larger team.
- Be accessible. Your supervisors and managers play a critical role when it comes to your remote team members. They’re in the best position to provide clear expectations while becoming an important link between the remote and the rest of the team. A Gallup article on managing remote employees talks about building “lines of sight” for remote employees. Make sure they know who to go to when they need help.
- Hold people accountable. As with all team members, remotes should be held accountable for delivering based on the expectations that you’ve set. Regular communication and “check-ins” are important. This shouldn’t just be a once or two times a year event.
Making your remote employees important contributors to your team (while keeping them happy in the process), does not have to be a painstaking process. As is the case with building the foundation of your overall organizational culture, it requires some straightforward steps that are consistently followed. The seven steps listed above will have your well on the way in keeping your remote team members connected.
If you’d like to learn more about integrating your remote employees into your culture, or if you’d like to learn more about intentionally driving your culture overall, simply click the button below.