Remote work is the new normal nowadays. People can work from anywhere, which has been a positive change for many, increasing productivity and flexibility in the workplace. But along with this flexibility, other new issues can arise.
Company culture can be difficult to establish with a remote workforce, and if an organization has a mixture of in-person and remote employees, those who work completely remotely can feel excluded.
Think about it - the team goes out for happy hour drinks, leading to a late night full of laughs and inside jokes. For remote employees not involved, they’ve missed out on an opportunity to bond with co-workers and get to know them outside of work.
How can this be combatted?
While remote workers won’t be joining on team social outings anytime soon, there are other virtual events companies can start. A team virtual lunch or happy hour may seem awkward at first but could go a long way in terms of getting remote employees involved socially.
Other ideas include a cooking lesson or other classes that people can get involved in. Some sort of lesson minimizes the need to create small talk and gives employees something to bond over!
It also makes it easier to participate for employees who are more introverted and dislike events where they have to constantly talk – here, they can mostly observe and learn a new skill. You could even consider having employees rotate teaching classes–you never know the talents of different members of your team!
Communication Faux Pas
The other downside to remote work is that online communication leaves less room for nuance. It can be easy to misinterpret a person’s tone through an email or Slack message, and if you’ve never met the person, you can begin to assume the worst.
Remote employees may already feel isolated due to aforementioned social events and the everyday workplace conversation they miss, so clear communication is key to their feeling heard.
Here are our top five tips for communication within your business:
#1 Be proactive instead of reactive
We’ve all been there at some point, the “oh no” moment right before a meeting that you’ve forgotten to prepare for, and the quick scramble to get your notes together.
Minimizing these moments is key for a smooth remote working environment, especially as a leader. Taking time at the end of your workday to check out the next day’s schedule and be sure you’re prepped (especially for meetings with remote employees) goes a long way.
#2 Schedule regular check-ins
For example: Set a meeting for Monday mornings to outline goals for the week, and then Friday mornings to see how your team has got on with them. That way you can see how everyone is doing, and who needs help, and it doesn’t feel like you’re micromanaging employees.
#3 Ask workers their preferred communication methods/style
Some people prefer video calls, some voice calls, and some prefer a simple Slack message. Meeting someone where they’re most comfortable goes a long way in terms of productivity and efficiency.
#4 Don’t skip right to business: ask how they are
At the end of the day, we’re all human, and it’s important to check in with team members on a social level as well.
Ask about their family, or if they have any weekend plans coming up. It’s a small step but creates a good personal base for getting to know each other before diving straight into business. It can be easy to feel lost in the sea of workers, so having a check-in from a supervisor (especially with no ulterior motive!) can mean a lot for a remote employee.
Set expectations from the start
People can’t meet your expectations if they don’t know what they are. Make sure you’re clear on when they should be working (fixed hours or flexible, etc) and what they’re meant to accomplish. Clear deadlines go a long way in combating communication miscues.
Through intentional communication and events geared toward building inclusivity, companies can maintain their culture even in a remote working environment. Consider how you can improve communication among employees and better foster an inclusive environment for all!