Company culture in a remote environment
Company culture in a remote environment can make all the difference to the success of flexible working, with many companies already having flexible working arrangements in place before the Covid-19 outbreak occurred. We were lucky to be one of those, making it easier to transition to full-time remote working as the government instructed businesses to close their doors.
For others though, remote working is a big adjustment and some companies may be feeling the strain of having their teams spread across multiple locations. At Digital Detox, we work hard to make sure our culture is one that supports the team in doing what they do best, wherever they choose to do it. Here’s what we’ve done to build a positive company culture in a remote environment.
Trust is key
Building a positive company culture in a remote environment begins with trust. This means giving employees the autonomy to manage their own work schedules in the way that suits them best.
As business leaders, it can be difficult to accept new ways of working or approaches that don’t fit the mould of the way things are usually done at your company. Trust means letting go of your fixed views on the way things should be done and allowing your team to work in the way that they choose to. Trust also breeds loyalty and honesty from employees, which are critical characteristics for a positive company culture in a remote environment.
It sounds counterintuitive when discussing change but consistency is vital for creating a strong company culture in a remote environment. With a big transition such as the move to remote working, it’s important to minimise other big changes to your ways of working.
For example, at Digital Detox, we’ve maintained continuity throughout the Covid-19 pandemic. This means no structural changes or new tools to get to grips with, and a continuation of many activities we used to regularly engage in pre-Covid. Our weekly Wednesday team meeting has carried on as usual, albeit via video call rather than the office. A different member of the team leads each catch up and people are encouraged to ‘shout out’ any members of the team who have helped them over the previous week. We’ve also carried on with regular team yoga sessions, which used to take place in the office and now happen via Zoom.
These simple but familiar activities have created a sense of calm and comfort within the team and further strengthened our company culture in a remote environment.
Use the right tools
As a digital design and development agency, we use some really great open source communication tools as part of our daily workflow. Building a company culture in a remote environment relies on good communication, visibility and progress. Using the right tools for your team can make their working life more enjoyable and ease frustration, meaning a happier, more productive workforce!
When we made the transition to remote working, the team already had laptops with secure software that could be accessed from pretty much anywhere. Staff members were used to working from home occasionally so there were no concerns with usability or security when working remotely full-time. This helped maintain momentum of existing projects and facilitated easy communication between team members.
Coincidentally, as a business we had recently introduced a policy whereby any member of the team could request remote working as standard. So the Covid-19 pandemic simply made that policy mandatory and in many respects has now turned it on its head, as we continue to work from home where possible.
Benefits of a remote environment
There are obvious benefits of remote working for employees like flexibility, better work/home life balance and no commute (hurrah!). Many business owners don’t realise that there are great benefits of remote working for the company too.
Offering remote working can have a huge impact on your company’s carbon footprint. Without your employees traveling to work each day, often via public transport or car, you’ll significantly reduce your environmental impact as a business. The same applies to your physical office location - using electricity, creating (sometimes unrecyclable) waste and paying inflated rent costs for a posh professional pad do not make for a very sustainable business. Some companies are considering doing away with their physical office or downsizing to a smaller premises as remote working becomes the norm. Whilst we will keep our studio in Brixton, this is a good time to review your own sustainability practices and think about whether remote working can help you become a more carbon conscious business. In fact, we reviewed its impact on DD right here.
The next big benefit of a remote environment is recruitment. Without the need to attract talent from within a commutable location to your office address, you can recruit from, well, anywhere! Many companies are opening up their recruitment pool to international workers or people from other areas of the country. This means access to a wider skill-set and no need for additional office space to accommodate any new recruits.
Finally, if your business is going through a digital transformation or you’re trying to streamline some of your operations and systems, remote working could help. At Digital Detox, we’ve moved to a ‘remote first’ environment. This means that remote working will remain the norm, even once more businesses begin re-opening their doors to employees. We believe this will future-proof our business and provide better opportunities for productivity, flexibility and sustainability moving forward.
Challenges of remote working
Creating a positive company culture in a remote environment is not without its challenges. Spending all day on Zoom chats can be exhausting, recruitment can be tricky without meeting candidates face to face and some people miss the buzz of an office. These are not insurmountable issues though. In our experience, the benefits of remote working outweigh the issues and we’re taking big steps to maintain the positives of an office environment whilst exploring the opportunities of remote working.
It’s an exciting time and we’ll continue to invest in building a solid company culture in a remote environment, now and well into the future.
If you’re keen to understand more about how we make it work, or what we do to help clients, get in touch! We’d love to share some examples of the work we’ve done and talk a bit about how our company culture supports our vision, ethos and approach for building simple, effective solutions for customers.