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How to build a positive company culture when working remotely

June 28, 2017

By Nikoletta Triantafyllopoulou

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computers working remotely

Working remotely is a universal trend in progress. WordPress as a CMS platform gives the opportunity to people to explore different career  options and different ways of working. And one can not ignore the shift towards making the world your office.

Yet as inspiring, innovative and convenient this may sound, working remotely can often be a daunting procedure. Because, in order for it to work successfully, it has to be a well-organised and well-planned endeavour.

In this article, we mention some of the challenges individuals face when working remotely. However, the primary focus of this article is on suggesting solutions to establishing a company culture that brings together all members and teams.

Common challenges when working remotely

From the remote worker’s point of view, there are a few issues that often trouble the individuals:

Blurry home-office boundaries

Working on your laptop means that you can work from everywhere. This also means that you run the risk of having your surrounding environment interfering with your working schedule. Not to mention getting easily distracted and losing track of your time. When you work from home it is helpful to have a space that you will create to your liking and it will serve as an office space. This will help you condition your brain switching into a “working” mode, upon entering that space. It will also serve as a distraction buffer for the rest of the members of your family; as they will also know that that’s the place where you work.

Non-existent work-life balance

Not adhering to a strict daily working schedule will eventually take its toll on the life you have outside work. Organise your “working day” with tasks, goals, notes, and reminders to keep in line with the tasks pending or those that need to be completed. When all your tasks for the day are achieved, try disconnecting from all channels and apps and just take an “offline” breath. Truth be told, most of the times you will learn the hard way. But in order to survive, you need to be able to exercise excellent self-discipline and self-motivation skills. You will begin noticing how necessary and vital those skills are, only after you have found yourself amidst a vicious, work-only cycle, where no life exists outside your working hours.

Connection issues (literal and metaphorical)

Staying always connected is necessary during the hours of your work but staying always online will have an impact on your mentality, will clutter your brain and will affect your productivity. As a remote worker, it’s your duty to always be present online when you must and it’s your responsibility to take the necessary breaks that will keep your mind working swiftly.

Shared understanding

The problem of communication is admittedly the number 1 problem challenging all remotely working teams. No matter how passionate, productive and goal-oriented they are, it only takes a single misunderstanding to cause unpleasant and awkward feelings and situations. When communicating with written messages, miscommunication is always lurking.

Additionally, you run the risk of your company’s goals or projects to not be clearly understood. So for this, if you have to manage multiple teams, you have to put an effort in bringing everyone on the same page, clarifying the goals and tasks and giving everyone a clear picture of what needs to be done.

You will begin noticing how necessary and vital those skills are, only after you have found yourself amidst a vicious, work only cycle, where no life exists outside your working hours.

How to foster a healthy company culture

First, you need to consider what a healthy company means to you. Then you need to write it down. Having an initial list of values is a good way to start, and with time and experience these points expand and help you compose your company’s employee handbook. Besides including your company’s various policies, ethics, and vision, you should include guidelines that help employees in times of crisis.  Slowly build an environment of open communication and constructive criticism. If you already practice DevOps in your company, then you should have a process that facilitates that. As feedback is an important stage of the whole cycle. Beware though, as it’s not as simple as “sitting down and having a chat”. In order for true communication to occur and not have people falling back on safe answers, you need trust from both parties. Ideally, you need an even-tempered person that can facilitate the conversation and can quickly “defuse” situations before going out of hand. Having those meetings take place via conference where people can see each other, makes communication much more thoughtful and genuine than when being on an instant messaging channel. Scheduling physical face-to-face meetups with the whole team once or twice a year helps people know their teammates better, and that contributes to overall team integration.

Having patience and good faith while offering support to new hires that are not experienced with remote working is crucial as well. You don’t need to pass on good talent just because they haven’t worked remotely before. You just need to factor that extra effort on their part but also you should make sure that they fit the culture you are trying to foster. Refrain from micromanaging them, as this approach sooner or later will cause friction. Show trust in their accountability and self-discipline that they will do their work, and they will slowly figure out a routine that enhances their productivity.

Wrapping Up

Although working remotely is both popular and exciting it can become quite challenging. Individuals have to face and overcome their personal weaknesses and they also have to create and protect their “office space” from interferences affecting their productivity. Mapping out techniques, traits, skills that need to be developed, in order for them to become more productive. All these must be built in accordance and close communication with the rest of the members of a team. And it’s the strong sense of collaboration, trust and mutual accountability which fosters a positive company culture across all teams and members.

 

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