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Build a Strong Virtual Employee Culture

 

While you may be tired of hearing it, companies continue adapting to “the new normal” that COVID-19 has required us to create.  Employees are working from home.  And with that comes brand new challenges that many of us have not had to face before.  The biggest challenge that many businesses are trying to solve is company culture.   How do you build a strong virtual employee culture that works for everyone and keeps your teams engaged in the business?

When your employees were coming into the office every day, there was a familiar group dynamic.  You had risk-takers and more conservative teammates. You had the extroverts and the introverts.  The caretakers and the independent workers.

But the locational disparity of your team, often times creates a completely different dynamic.  And with that, you may see a completely new side of your employees you’ve never seen before.

As employees begin to feel more and more isolated, their sense of belonging can also start to dissipate. It’s up to you as a manager or leader in your company to help remove that barrier of isolation, inspire your team and continue to create that sense of belonging that surpasses the physical distance.

But where do you start? Well, here are 4 ways you can create a strong and productive virtual employee culture.

Communicate Clearly

You need to constantly be defining your expectations.  This may sound boring, but it’s instrumental in ensuring your teams are productive and you’re getting what you need.  And while it sounds simple, it will take some work on your end to be diligent.

Think about the specifics of a project.  When do you need it done?  What exactly are the deliverables you will expect?  What are the big milestones you need to hit and when should your team check in with you?

We’ve all played the game of telephone.  You don’t want those end results to happen at work.  So be clear.  Regularly define your needs and goals to your team.  And ensure your managers do the same.

Communicate Regularly

Establish regular check-ins with your team.  This could be a daily team check in that takes the place of your standing meeting.  And a one-on-one check in every day with your direct reports.  Even an end of day email from your team to you highlighting what progress they made today.

Whatever you do, ensure that twice a day you are checking in by video with every one of your team.  You need to make sure your team sees you and that you are keeping them up to speed and in the loop on what’s happening at the company.   No phone call, email or text can replace virtual “face-to-face” conversations with your remote team.

Coach & Collaborate

We can’t say it enough.  With a remote workforce, video is your most important tool.  Isolation is very real.  And can set in quickly when employees are working remotely.  Employees begin to buy into the FOMO (fear of missing out), which only builds resentment and uncertainty.

If you’re communicating regularly and having one-on-one meetings with your employees, please make sure they are for more than just checking up on them.  Just as you want them to communicate with you about what they are doing, you need to make sure important information about the company is passed down to them.

There are also going to be times when your employees need coaching.  Whatever you do, don’t give constructive feedback on a group call.  Schedule a one-on-one with that employee and provide coaching for them in private.

Empower Your Team

Right now is a critical time for your managers.  Make sure your managers understand your goals around creating a strong virtual employee culture.  And that they have the tools and know-how to succeed.  They are your front line to employees and are critical in making their experience a positive one.

It’s also never been more important to empower your staff to make bold recommendations and be proactive.  Since COVID-19 hit, business has been changing at break-neck pace and you need to stay ahead of the curve.

The final piece here is encouragement.  Your employees need to be encouraged to interact with cross-functional teams.  Remote employees have a natural inclination to only speak or interact with those in their immediate team.  But that sense of belonging we talked about earlier is fragile.  And it will only continue if employees are connected to the different teams they would normally interact with in the office.

Building a strong employee culture with your virtual team isn’t impossible.  It’s different than it was when we were all in the office.  And, admittedly, it may take more effort on your part to ensure.  But your employees will be happier, more proactive and more productive.

Let Innergi help you set your business – and your employees – up for success. Call us at 321-275-5580 or send us a message here. We’ll be happy to talk to you further about office virtualization and how it can work for you.

Get more telecommuting recommendations for your team. Check out these work from home tips.