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Tips to Improve Your Remote Company Culture

Jon Leslie and Patric Palm via Favro

🤝 Tips to Improve Your Remote Company Culture

The pandemic has changed the nature of work.

In the most recent Gallup poll, conducted in the fall of 2021, two-thirds of white-collar workers in the U.S. were working remotely to some degree.

And while remote work has scaled back as pandemic restrictions have lifted, by 2025, an estimated 70% of the workforce will be working remotely at least 5 days a month. (Forbes)

Remote work has benefits for both employees and employers, but it may have a detrimental effect on company culture.

As a leader, here’s why you should care:

🔷 Hiring: Over a third of U.S. employees will turn down an offer if the company culture isn’t right. (Robert Half)

🔷 Retention: Employees who don’t like their company’s culture are 24% more likely to quit. (Tiny Pulse)

🔷 Success: 88% of employees believe strong company culture is key to business success. (Deloitte)

That’s why we're sharing these 29 tips to boost your remote corporate culture.

The Favro Remote Work Playbook summarises best practices and tips on how to excel with remote work with distributed teams.For the vast majority of companies, distributed teams and an entirely remote workforce are uncharted territories.

Although not 100% remote prior to the current pandemic, here at Favro we’ve been structured since day one to collaborate with distributed teams and employees working from home. Based on our experiences from being partially remote and distributed to now being a fully remote organization, here are 29 tips and best practices to help your company make the transition.

Remote First Company Culture

1. Manage flow not people — Stop managing people and assigning tasks. Focus instead on determining desired outcomes, prioritizing the objectives and key results to achieve those outcomes, then managing the flow of value once a direction has been set.

2. “Like a Servant”— “Like a Boss” is dead. In a remote organization, supervision and micromanagement are almost impossible. Embrace this as a positive and move to a servant leader mindset. Company managers and leaders should provide direction and clear the way instead of delegating tasks, requesting reports, and requiring constant status updates. Servant leaders unlock the potential of self-managed teams and lead by example: how are they adding value to the organization and how can team members do the same.

3. Executives are people too — As a leader, you need to be more open and personal online. Be personal but not private. Level up on being personal and approachable. Choosing a Zoom background that reflects your personality can be a good place to start

4. Blur the social media lines — Leaders might also consider opening up a bit on social media. If you use Facebook for friends and LinkedIn for business, be a little more personal on LinkedIn.

5. No place to go — It’s no longer about just showing up. When employees are colocated in an office environment, simply showing up is an indicator that they’re working. With no office to go to, showing up means adding value. Individual contributors should think more like business owners and less like traditional employees.

6. No judgment zone — Especially during the transition to remote, everyone is going to have a different situation. Some might now have children at home. Some might not have a private area in their home for online video meetings. Be patient and respectful of everyone's unique situation as they adapt to a new way of working.Optimize for Remote Teams and Market Turmoil

7. “Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”— Volatility and uncertainty are the new normal. Remote organizations and distributed teams should move to more agile ways of working. Embrace change instead of fearing it by moving towards not only team but overall business agility.

8. Prioritize! Re-prioritize! and Prioritize some more! — Make sure everyone in the organization is working on the right things. Large business initiatives, all the way down to the product features and services that drive those initiatives need to be prioritized constantly by business value. How value is quantified is up to the organization.

9. One team to build it all — In order to respond quickly to change, wherever possible create cross-functional teams. Small teams made up of all the disciplines necessary to deliver value to the customer will speed the time from idea to delivery and will be able to pivot much faster than large siloed teams and departments. Definitely ditch the businesspeople vs. technical people mindset. Business people and technical people need to work together on a daily basis to deliver the right products and services to customers.

10. Granular is good — Break big goals down into smaller goals. They also make it easy to see the progress towards completing the whole

11. Never stop planning. Never stop delivering.— Instead of doing all of your planning and analysis upfront, break projects and deliverables into smaller chunks. Prioritize the most valuable initiatives and deliver those first. Create a regular cadence across the entire organization of small, cross-functional teams planning, creating, and delivering value in short two to four-week iterations. You’ll be receiving both revenue and customer feedback much faster.

12. You get what you measure — Stop measuring activity. If you measure activity, you’ll get plenty of activity but possibly no results. Stop measuring the number of tasks completed. Being always online and completing a lot of tasks does not mean that an individual or team is productive. Remote Meetings and Communication

13. Never enough synchs! — Using Zoom or another online video conferencing app, the daily standup is now more important than ever. This is not a status update meeting, where the boss asks direct reports to account for their time. The purpose of the standup is for team members to communicate with each other on progress towards goals, make sure any impediments towards those goals are identified, and form a plan for the day.

14. Instant Replays— While on the topic of Zoom… We’ve all been there — you’ve just wrapped up an in-person meeting and you totally forget a few action items. With Zoom’s recording feature, you can easily record and playback meetings.

15. Communicate where the work lives — It’s great to use a tool like Slack for general conversation. But, when it comes to getting actual work done, it makes more sense to communicate where the work lives.

16. Swarm the Problem — Provide tools for team members to collaborate ad-hoc, in real-time whenever possible. Team members should not feel that they have to work on things in isolation. It’s been proven that swarming complex problems — which amounts to team members with different specialties collaborating together to figure out solutions — is much more successful than working alone.

17. Virtual Show and Tell — Nothing is more important to the success of a remote organization than cadence. A regular cadence of sync points creates alignment across teams of teams no matter how large the organization. A good example is to organize a weekly show and tell, where teams show off what they accomplished during the week. Give them the credit they’re due with an unmuted round of online applause.

18. Cameras On = Pants On — Some say that online meetings are more intimate than face-to-face meetings because you can see everyone's face so clearly. Of course, in order for this to work, everyone must have video cameras turned on. Don’t forget to put your pants on too, especially during remote stand-ups.

19. “Breaker, Breaker 1-9”— Especially in large meetings, make sure all participants not currently speaking have their microphones muted. Think old-school walkie-talkies and CB radios to drastically cut down on background noise and distractions.

20. Share coffee and a “Donut” — This one’s a must for remote companies using Slack. Use the Slack Donut app for random one-on-one chats or video calls and get to know more people in your organization.

21. Asynchronous Communication — Teams distributed across multiple geographic locations and time zones are typically not able to communicate in real time for ad-hoc questions and conversations. That being the case, your organization needs to understand and facilitate effective asynchronous communications. Apps like Slack or Teams are built for this and a great email replacement.

22. Virtual Executive Briefing Center (EBC) — It’s not just about remote teams, presenting to and building relationships with prospects who are also now remote is another key success driver of any business. A virtual Executive Briefing Center is a great way to facilitate these types of interactions.

23. Use the Boat retrospective. It’s the best!— Now that you’re remote don’t cheat on retrospectives. Team retrospectives are a chance to reflect on the process and the team itself. It’s a commitment to Kaizen, which means change for the better. If a team isn’t holding regular remote retrospectives that’s an indication that they’ve chosen to not improve. There are many different ways to run a retrospective and using various methods is encouraged to keep things fresh.

24. Everyone 💜s a challenge — How about offering rewards for the employee who comes up with the best weekly online challenge. Things that encourage interaction such as having every team member recommend their favorite online course or work-related book, taking a photo of their remote workspace, and sharing with the team. etc.

25. Don’t forget the Europeans — There are quite a few tools that help you schedule distributed teams working in multiple time zones, but none of them offer a better visualization or as many features as Every Time Zone. Stay Healthy and Social Apart

26. It’s Fika Time— Along with collaborating online for work, it’s important to stay social with colleagues. You’re no longer in an office having impromptu conversations and meeting for coffee breaks. Take a tip from the Swedes and stay connected with a weekly or even daily virtual Fika. It’s a time to talk about all the things you would if you were having coffee and treats face-to-face.

27. Don’t forget to breathe — Encourage people to get outside, take breaks, and stay healthy. At Favro, we’ve set up a weekly Fresh Air Challenge. Everyone posts weekly photos of beautiful things they see during walks around town or in nature. We’ve also created weekly Favro boards to voluntarily enter daily steps, with very achievable goals. It’s fostered a great sense of camaraderie and friendly competition.

28. It’s 5 o’clock somewhere — A danger of remote work is always being online and always working. There isn’t the same separation of office life from home life. Along with setting well-defined core hours, managers and executives must lead by example and ensure they’re offline and not available themselves outside of work hours. A good best practice is to create an always available, continuously updated remote company calendar.

29. Play Apart Together — It’s not likely that most distributed and remote teams will have the chance to meet up at restaurants and bars for after-work socials. A fun alternative is online gaming. We’ve written a handy guide to help you start up your own Online Gaming After-Works.

Photo by Sigmund on Unsplash

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