5 Tips for Cultivating Company Culture with Remote Employees
Positive company culture is a must in the packaging industry. Recruiting, retention, and productivity all depend upon it. But when you have remote employees, instilling corporate culture becomes more difficult. That's why top brands ensure team members feel connected and engaged no matter where they work. Here’s how.
Packaging and production are global activities with the biggest names operating offices all around the world. Yet, the explosion of industry growth, alongside advancements in technology, means working away from the office is a common option as well.
However, this workplace flexibility comes with problems of its own.
In traditional office environments, getting to know fellow employees happens naturally. After all, with so much personal interaction, it’s easy to connect and build relationships.
But when employees are remote, that’s not always the case. That’s why engaging and projecting the right message to remote employees is so critical.
Company Culture Is About Making It Personal
After the glow of a new packaging position wears off, the isolation of working remotely often sinks in. To combat this negative feeling, look for creative ways to keep external employees plugged into your brand.
● Assign a partner - pairing up local and remote employees encourages open discussion and provides a much-needed support mechanism. If possible, create teams based on time zones (or working hours) to increase availability.
In-house employees can facilitate valuable introductions to others within the organization. They can also answer minor questions that might seem silly or uncomfortable to pose to management.
● Don’t just delegate - give remote employees the opportunity to lead and contribute to the organization’s success. Letting others prove their worth is a great way to create buy-in and increase engagement.
Don’t forget about career advancement as well. Management should conduct regular one-on-ones with remote employees to guide and mentor them through the ranks.
● Play games - even when employees are remote, you can still interact and have fun. There are dozens of team building games staff members can play online using simple video or teleconferencing tools. These interesting activities bring everyone together and help them get to know one another in a light hearted setting.
Which is a great option to build trust and cohesion amongst distant employees.
● Send some swag - when handing out promotional items, don’t forget about remote workers. Hats, shirts, and small gifts make those outside the office feel connected and a part of the team. Birthday cards, thank you notes, and well wishes all contribute to a sense of inclusion as well.
For even more impact, consider including immediate family members also. After all - for remote employees - these persons are often are their biggest cheerleaders.
When you treat remote workers like they’re part of the team, that’s what they become.
Promoting Your Values Strengthens Corporate Culture
There’s a misconception that company culture means fancy offices, catered lunches, and massage chairs. Not true. These items are merely perks - and you can’t build a sustainable culture on perks.
Culture is about company beliefs, values, and the “why” behind your work.
To create buy-in with remote employees, it’s key to reinforce company culture at every opportunity. That means clearly defining your culture, distributing it to everyone on the team, and (most importantly) living it every day.
A great way to do this is by promoting open communications and utilizing systems that encourage it. You’ll also want to ensure new employees are clear on expectations from day one. They need to know how to ask for help and who to turn to when they need it.
When operations are rooted in culture, creativity flourishes and remote workers take pride in ownership of their assignments.
Leverage Technology to Connect With Remote Employees
With modern apps and communication platforms, keeping in touch has never been easier. Using messaging apps like Slack and Microsoft Teams helps keep everyone in the conversation. Whether it’s in the cubicle next door or coffee shop halfway around the world.
Besides making file sharing and collaboration a breeze, these apps serve another important purpose. They transition the social aspect of the workplace to the web.
Much of what makes an office environment welcoming is the informal “water-cooler” conversations happening throughout the day. The informal banter about ongoing projects, family and friends, and personal hobbies. These types of interactions bring colleagues together and make them feel like they’re part of a team.
Another great idea here is to include video in your conferencing options. Programs like Skype, Zoom, and Google Hangouts make the process simple. The ability to see faces and hear voices is irreplaceable when it comes to team dynamics.
Most importantly, these programs allow everyone to observe the body language and emotional reactions of their peers. A critical part of project dialogue and understanding others true feelings.
Maximize In Person Time To Improve Culture
Video conferencing and chat apps improve engagement with remote employees, but nothing replaces in person meetings. There’s no better way to build trust, bond with colleagues, and have fun than with face-to-face interaction.
While every meeting doesn’t have to be in person, there are times you’ll want to bring remote employees on-site. For instance:
● Annual (or semi-annual) meetings/retreats - at least once a year, consider bringing the entire team together in an informal setting.Employees can utilize this time to connect, share a laugh, and truly get to know one another.
● Introducing new team members - a great way to make new packaging talent feel valued. On-site introductions make connecting faces to names easier and encourage openness regarding questions or concerns.
● Presenting awards or giving special recognition - honoring remote workers in front of their peers is always welcome. Simple acts like these build trust, increase loyalty, and let employees know their hard work is appreciated.
Between in person meetings, keep the conversation going by leveraging personalized emails and conducting one-on-one phone calls. Doing so makes an impression and can go a long way towards improving remote employee morale.
Communication Is Key
One of the best ways for packaging companies to create culture is by emphasizing communication. Especially when it comes to remote employees who lack daily interaction with their counterparts.
When in doubt, it’s better to over communicate than leave things to chance.
Conduct weekly all-hands meetings to ensure everyone is on the same page. Have remote employees phone in, or (if possible) utilize video conferencing for greater impact.
Agendas for these meetings should include goal setting, reviewing accomplishments from the prior week, and discussing challenges for the next. Encourage all employees to speak up and relay updates on current assignments.
Use this time to share breaking news with the team as well. Everything from rewards and recognition to personal victories or major life events that deserve celebration. These tidbits may be common knowledge around the office, but completely unknown to those outside of your walls.
Lastly, make it a point to regularly measure engagement with remote workers. Utilizing surveys, polls, or questionnaires provides a quick assessment of employee happiness and fulfillment and may identify new strategies to improve it.
In the end, it's easy for remote workers to slip through the cracks and feel left out. Not on purpose - but simply because out of sight equals out of mind.
To minimize this effect, packaging companies should be hyperconscious about communication and promoting company values. Brands need to ensure remote employees remain informed, engaged, and feel vested in their work.
Organizations should also utilize technology to personalize messaging and help bring social interaction to those outside the office. Finally, they must create trust by providing flexibility/freedom and avoiding micromanagement.
Great brands set clear expectations for their packaging executives - then watch as they rise to meet the challenge.
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