5 ways employers can maintain workplace culture remotely

Remote working needs a greater degree of trust in employees. (Rawpixel pic)

The current world of work in Malaysia is operating more remotely than it ever has before.

While this is crucial to maintaining the health and safety of employees, adjusting to this way of working may result in employers facing certain challenges which need to be managed.

Remote working can sometimes create obstacles to communication, collaboration, relationship building and accessibility which can result in an impact on workplace culture.

Tom Osborne, Managing Director at Hays Malaysia, shares five ways employers can maintain their workplace culture and successfully manage remotely:

1. Establish communication methods

When managing your team remotely, effective communication is crucial.

Establish frequent communication with your team via the right platforms. Take advantage of the variety of channels available to help your team stay in touch and collaborate, but bear in mind that using too many different channels can be overwhelming.

The next best thing to talking face-to-face is to communicate over video. As you would with a physical meeting, set an agenda prior to the call and make it visible to everyone. This helps your video call to run smoothly and efficiently.

These calls are now equivalent to team meetings, so you need to stress the importance of every team member attending.

This ensures that every remote worker is kept in the loop and contributes to your team’s progress.

2. Build rapport

Working remotely means you won’t have those impromptu office interactions that go a long way to building rapport and fostering working relationships between employees.

Whether it’s working collaboratively on a project or catching up over the weekend, these moments are essential for team bonding.

Therefore in addition to making sure your communication is transparent, it’s also worth factoring in time on conference calls for your team to make small talk and build or maintain their relationships.

If you don’t video call regularly, you can still facilitate this by using instant messaging apps like Yammer or Slack.

Taking these measures is particularly important for newer members of staff to get to know their colleagues.

Team video calls with a set agenda are crucial to get projects done on time. (Rawpixel pic)

3. Share knowledge

When it comes to sharing knowledge and collaborating, many of your team possess specialist knowledge about their area or subject.

This is easier to share in an office environment compared to when your team is working remotely.

Encourage your employees to create guides, host webinars or record podcasts on their specialist subjects.

This provide opportunities to share their knowledge and appreciate what others in the team are working on. Ensure that this is followed up with praise and due recognition.

4. Proactively engage

While you’re probably used to reading your team’s emotions and reactions when you’re with them in person, remotely this is more difficult.

Where possible, use video calls so your team are able to see each other and engage more than they would simply over the phone.

If you still feel disconnected or are not using video, try placing more attention on their tone of voice and identifying changes in pitch to gauge how your employees are getting on.

It also helps to use inclusive language such as “we” and “our” to foster cohesion and unity.

5. Trust your team

While remote working may pose challenges at first, particularly for those who don’t have experience working or managing in this way, trusting your team pays off in positive gains.

Remote working is now a necessity in Malaysia during this Movement Control Order period.

It is likely to remain necessary as more industries move to digitally transform in an effort to curtail costs and boost productivity.

Flexibility is also empowering and can prove beneficial to employee retention down the line as it offers a better work-life balance.

Mastering remote ways of working and managing is thus crucial for employers, and trust is a large part of this.

If employees feel trusted and empowered to work in the interests of your organisation, you can get to a place where culture influences mind-set.

When you achieve this, location no longer matters and you’ll be able to manage your team while maintaining your company culture.

This article first appeared in Hays recruiting experts worldwide.