Despite the return-to-office plans, remote work is here to stay, and leaders are searching for remote work culture ideas to help build strong teams. As the founder of DistantJob, a company that finds global remote talent, and author of Surviving Remote Work, Sharon Koifman has over a decade of experience finding, hiring, and creating great remote cultures. Sharon shares that his success has been based on a clear definition of culture, building trust and caring about remote workers’ mental health.
The Truth: Remote Work is Here to Stay
Nearly all of the research out there is showing that remote work provides greater productivity and is preferred by many workers. According to SloanMIT research, remote work has created happier and more independent people. Other research shows that people are 77% more productive and 23% are willing to work more hours if they can work from home. Additionally, 23% of people would prefer a lower wage if they could work from home. Remote work is becoming a necessity, and leaders need to figure out how to strengthen their remote culture, and adjust their leadership style to support their remote workers.
How to Keep Remote Company Culture Alive
Clearly Define & Declare Remote Company Culture
Even after 14 months of working remotely, people are still having a hard time understanding what a remote culture even is. Leaders need to have a clearer definition of what a remote culture is in the first place if they are going to be successful at building it.
Remote Company culture is about creating connection. Culture in the remote world is your connections between you and the company, between colleagues, and between clients and employees. A clearer definition of remote culture gives leaders clarity on their priorities when it comes to taking action to improve the culture.
After the clear definition of company culture has been created and agreed upon, Leaders must then declare what the culture is. The leader knows what their vision is for the culture in the early stages of growth. Inside the startup phase, leaders will declare what the culture will look and feel like inside their remote company. However, as the company grows, so does the culture.
The culture is a living, breathing organism that eventually shifts it’s power from the leader to the employees. Eventually, other people, your culture champions, will begin to take charge of defining and declaring the culture. This will empower the company to create and support a healthy remote culture and also work towards healthy culture fits in the hiring process.
3 Remote Work Culture Ideas
Donuts on Slack
One idea that Sharon personally uses is an app on Slack called Donuts. With Donuts, he has 1-on-1’s with each person on his team. With the Donuts app, remote companies can connect serendipitously for virtual coffee, peer learning, DEI discussions, and more.
After defining remote culture, Sharon’s thought process shifted from wanting to create big remote events, to asking himself, how can I create connection? With that thought, Donuts has been incredibly successful inside his company.
Define & Build Trust
Most leaders think that they need to define and build trust with their team so that they can trust their team. But Sharon challenges leaders to think about trust the other way around. The question isn’t can you, the leader, trust your employees, the question is can your employees trust you?
Are they comfortable approaching you when they don’t understand something?
Are they comfortable calling you out?
Can they say anything on their mind without any consequences?
One of the most important elements of remote culture lies in the leader’s ability to build trust.
Care for Your Team Member’s Mental Health
Over the past 14 months, leaders have been more concerned about the mental health of their team, and Sharon believes this should not go away. He urges leaders to get more connected with their employees. He is not saying that Leaders need to go out and get degrees in therapy, but they do need to spend more time getting to know team members and assessing how they are really doing.
Leaders should spend more time seeing if their remote workers are burned out because caring about team members’ mental health reaps long term benefits.
For Remote Workers, It’s Just as Important to Book Your Professional and Personal Activities
One of the things that leaders can do is to encourage their remote workers to make personal activities just as important as professional activities. Remote workers face issues such as isolation, loneliness and mental health issues to a greater degree than their in office counterparts. Because of this it’s extremely important for them to prioritize their personal activities with the same amount of effort as they book their professional meetings.
About Sharon Koifman
Sharon Koifman is obsessed about remote leadership.
After years in the web hosting industry, he started DistantJob in 2009 as the first remote recruitment agency aimed at disrupting the way companies hire. Since then, Sharon has studied and researched not only how to operate remote businesses but how to create an amazing work culture, one where people love to come to work. He has dedicated his mind to finding ways – through systems and processes, services and tools – to bridge the gap between the faces in the monitor and the people in the real world.
This culminated with him becoming the author of Surviving Remote Work, an in-depth guide for both managers and employees on how to navigate the fast-growing world of remote work. Surviving Remote Work debuted in November 2020 as a #1 Amazon bestseller in its category. Sharon’s company has also launched a highly successful podcast interviewing leaders from to tech companies about the ins and outs of remote work (fast approaching 150 episodes), and will soon debut a new media company called Think Remote.
Now, we are an unprecedented time in history. A global pandemic has changed the way billions of us live and work. CEOs and workers who used to operate out of a central office suddenly find themselves working remotely, trying to be productive and content in an environment they’re not used to occupying.
Sharon is the perfect guide to lead thousands of companies through these trying times, as he and his company are changing the way we think about remote.
Listen to the full episode to hear more remote work culture ideas.