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Have you ever wondered what the difference between good companies and great companies is? In many cases, it’s their culture. Tony Hsieh, the retired CEO of the online shoe and clothing company Zappos, even believes that most of the other stuff takes care of itself when companies get the culture right.

But it’s one thing to recognize the importance of a great culture, and it’s something else entirely to know how to achieve it, especially when managing employees working from various remote locations. You might even think that at least some elements of a healthy company culture must be sacrificed when the team doesn’t work together in the office.

In reality, that’s not the case at all. You just need to overcome the challenges teams commonly face when they don’t share the same physical space, and the signs of a great remote work culture listed in this article are here to inspire and guide you.

Why Is Remote Work Culture So Important?

Buffer’s State of Remote Work 2020 report revealed that 98 percent of employees would like to work remotely—at least some of the time—for the rest of their career, and 87 percent of business owners intend to support them. Clearly, it’s time for companies to start paying attention to their remote work culture. But why is culture so important to a company in the first place? Here’s how Brian Chesky, the co-founder and CEO of the peer-to-peer lodging service Airbnb, answers the question:

“The stronger the culture, the less corporate process a company needs. When the culture is strong, you can trust everyone to do the right thing.”

Company culture can be compared to the structural components used on bridges. It consists of countless elements that must work in unison to achieve the best performance possible. A single faulty element won’t derail a company with a strong culture, but a weak culture is guaranteed to make even the strongest elements crumble, just like a poorly designed bridge won’t survive under heavy loads regardless of how strong its individual pillars are.

As many companies have already discovered, there are numerous challenges that must be overcome when making the transition from the office to the home office. A great remote work culture can make this much easier by strengthening the bonds between employees and ensuring that everyone’s on the same page. Let’s take a closer look at three signs of a great remote work culture to better understand how such culture can be created and supported.

Sign 1: Employees Are Equipped with Effective Communication Tools

“Good communication is just as stimulating as black coffee, and just as hard to sleep after.”  – Anne Morrow Lindbergh, author and aviator

The importance of communication at a workplace can’t be stressed enough, and remote work arrangements only increase it. When employees don’t gather in the same physical location every day, they need other ways to discuss work-related and personal topics alike.

Fortunately, there are many excellent communication tools to choose from these days. Communications platforms such as Microsoft Teams allow remote employees to instantly communicate over voice, chat, or video calling, both one-on-one and in groups. There are also various project management solutions that plug into these platforms, like Basecamp and Asana, that keep everyone on the same page and help eradicate the feeling of being micro-managed from a distance.

Sign 2: The Company’s Mission and Remote Work Policy Are Understood

“Collaboration is a key part of the success of any organization, executed through a clearly defined vision and mission and based on transparency and constant communication.”  – Dinesh Paliwal, business executive

Mission and Vision

It’s impossible for remote employees to effectively work together toward the same goal unless they understand their company’s mission and the boundaries they are expected to follow. While technology can certainly play an important role in the communication of a company’s mission and remote work policy, it’s ultimately up to the management to make sure that everyone on the team understands them. Though there’s hardly anyone who appreciates more meetings, holding a regular all-staff call helps employees feel “in the know” and allowing open Q&A time provides a forum for honesty which builds trust.

At HDCav, our monthly company calls do just that, and our quarterly company updates review what we’ve done, how we’re doing, and where we’re going. At regular intervals, management opens the lines for questions and comments, and even takes larger topics offline when needed. But no matter what, all employees are encouraged to take part and give feedback.

Remote Work Policy

In terms of employee and company security, a well-crafted remote work policy should address the cyber threats that remote employees are exposed to when working from their homes and other locations. For example, employees should understand which devices can be used to access their company’s systems and know how to increase their security by allowing admin-approved updates and using tools such as VPN.

Of course, first thing’s first. Before creating a policy, you must first understand your technical security structure and how it should ideally work. This can seem overwhelming when you start considering the various locations where employees are located, but we can help streamline this process. We’re specialists at online security and we can help you draft a comprehensive security policy along with installing top-of-the-line protection and monitoring procedures.

Sign 3: There Is a Healthy Balance Between Professionalism and Playfulness

“A professional is someone who can do his best work when he doesn’t feel like it.”  – Alistair Cooke, journalist and commentator

For remote employees, pants are optional. But just because high-quality work can be done in any clothes (unless you’re a diver or professional clown) doesn’t mean that there is no value in maintaining some level of professionalism. Even the most siloed worker still essentially relies on other employees to do their work properly. So, fostering a professional environment where everyone trusts that their colleagues have their back is key to your culture going viral inside your company.

That being said, professionalism should always be balanced with playfulness to compensate for the watercooler moments that employees miss out on when working remotely. Even something as simple as an informal discussion channel in a Teams chat can go a long way in helping employees build rapport with one another while still plowing through their to-do lists. At HDCav, we love our Virtual Watercooler channel and all the memes that we share on it.

Start Building a Great Remote Work Culture

A great remote work culture isn’t something that you can build overnight, so it’s best to start building it as soon as possible. Even if you’ve already started, keep in mind that your culture is its own growing and evolving animal, so always be deliberate in how you feed and guide it.

We can’t help you with all aspects of building a great remote work culture, but we can equip you with best-in-class technology to make your remote team thrive, including communication tools, advanced threat protection, and data backup solutions. Contact us for more information and let us help you take your remote work culture from good to great.