By Alastair Mitchell of Huddle
Establishing culture within a company is absolutely critical to maintaining a cohesive team, effective collaboration and successful business outcomes. But today’s digital workplace is fast-paced, mobile and in constant transition — which can make the feeling of solidarity that used to come from sharing a single, steady routine difficult to replicate. Additionally, most companies today are spread out across multiple offices with employees working either remotely, full time or part time.
(Photo courtesy of Alastair Mitchell)
Having a remote workforce has distinct advantages. It means more flexibility for employees, access to a broader talent pool for companies, and fewer travel and operating expenses for everyone involved.
But it also causes some challenges. Defining a collaborative company culture when employees are scattered around the globe is no easy feat. The following are three ways to make your satellite offices and employees feel like part of the same solar system.
1. Less is more when it comes to technology.
Too many different applications and tools can end up segmenting your workforce and prevent true cohesiveness. In an environment where teams are using the different tools to achieve true collaboration is destined to fail. It’s not only easy to become disorganized and lose track of details, it’s impossible to achieve results.
One of the challenges of having a distributed workforce is keeping everyone on the same page. When teams begin working in silos details fall through the cracks and no one works at their best. Minimize that possibility by establishing fewer, more straightforward processes. Automation and integration are key to maintaining productivity within your team. Using tools to achieve this will not only reduce stress on you and your employees, it will save time and help build a more thoughtful, deliberate company culture. Moreover, it will result in better results achieved faster.
2. Make company values loud and clear.
The single most important component of any company culture is the value system on which it’s based. With a distributed workforce, it’s especially important to identify and articulate those values from the start because it won’t be as easy for remote employees to pick them up over time as they would when working in a physical office.
Make a values list, develop a company manifesto, write a mission statement. Do whatever it takes to clearly express what makes your company unique and explain what it values. That resource should form the basis for all major corporate decisions and set the tone for the workplace, whether that’s the company’s headquarters or someone’s home office. Employees who fully understand what’s important to their company feel more secure, act more confidently and usually perform better, no matter where they work.
3. Reduce dependency on email.
The way we use email today is not the way it was intended. Email serves its purpose as a simple communication tools, but it often leads to missed or crossed messages.
It was never meant to be a primary means of communication or collaboration. This muddied form of communication isn’t particularly efficient or conducive to building strong internal relationships. In fact, it achieves the opposite.
Although it can be difficult to coordinate across time zones, setting up opportunities for the extended team to interact in-person or via video on a regular basis will ensure that everyone continues to feel connected and aligned. By providing a forum to brainstorm, initiate new discussions and build human bonds, you increase cohesion and remove dependence on outmoded forms of communication, like email.
People have been using technology to bridge the gaps between physical divides since the early days of the internet, yet many enterprises are still figuring out how to make this work effectively. As consumers, we collaborate, share and communicate seamlessly on a daily basis. It shouldn’t be that difficult for an organization to borrow some of these same ideas and implement them at work.
Enabling your workforce to work remotely is liberating for your employees and advantageous for your business. Eventually, it will become the norm as workers gravitate toward jobs that give them flexibility and companies capitalize on the opportunity to grow faster and reduce spending. Until then, approach the concept of remote work intelligently, apply these four tips and you can enjoy all those benefits while still maintaining a vital, thriving company culture.
This article is written and provided by Alastair Mitchell. Alastair is the president, CMO and co-founder of Huddle. Since setting up the company in 2006, Alastair has grown Huddle to around 170 people in London, San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C., raised $86 million in funding and seen sales double year on year. In his roles of president and CMO, Alastair is focused on scaling Huddle’s global brand and market impact.
The views, opinions and positions expressed within this guest post are those of the authors alone and do not represent those of CBS Small Business Pulse or the CBS Corporation. The accuracy, completeness and validity of any statements made within this article are verified solely by the authors.