Workplace Culture in a Remote World
By Steph Breunig, HR Practice Leader
Fine Point Consulting has always prided itself on its awesome culture. We are a casual, fun, friendly group who have historically liked to imbibe, gather for a tailgate, do a little bowling, and even some volunteer spirits bottling on occasion. With more remote workers, even prior to the pandemic, we had been actively working to extend our fun in-person culture to our remote staff who are scattered nationally, literally from coast to coast. We’ve discovered some tools and programs to help with our culture that might be useful to others.
See Your People
Communication is key when working remotely. Fine Point uses Slack - extensively. We use it for internal and external client communications, but we also use it for banter. While we can’t gather by a water cooler for conversations anymore, we absolutely still joke around, share stories, and bond via Slack. Even if you aren’t visibly seeing each other, “see” people by getting personal. Personal connections are pivotal to avoid isolation.
We also make sure we actually see each other, even on remote calls. It is so tempting to have a camera off when working from home but being face-to-face provides an intimacy that is lacking with strictly audio. So take that shower and show yourself!
Treat Your People
While Fine Point Consulting has always provided traditional benefits to full-time staff, hiring more part-time people and having everyone spread out really made us realize that we needed to find ways to extend non-traditional benefits across the company. This is a work-in-progress as we work to find “treats” that are reasonable, apply to everyone, and will be enjoyed no matter where employees are located.
We most recently sent a Bright Box to each employee in January, since that is a crazy month in the accounting world. While we’ve used Amazon for gift cards for birthdays and holidays due to the flexible nature of the products, we’ve also discovered some platforms that deal with gifting credits to employees that can be used with a variety of vendors. Managing gift giving for employees can be a huge administrative headache, but employing a platform for management can make that much easier. Two platforms that are on our radar currently are Fringe and PerkSpot.
Listen to Your People
This one seems easy - just listen! The trick to this is finding ways to get that honest, sometimes brutal feedback and make it into productive action to improve your culture. Employ several means to obtain this feedback - it is not a one size fits all situation. Use a survey with targeted questions regarding culture, use your one-on-one meetings to ask a question for personal feedback, or pose a question at a staff meeting for everyone to answer. Culture is a hard concept so it may take some digging to get at what is at the heart of the problem.
While developing an awesome workplace culture in this pandemic world can be hard, we CAN do hard things and culture is so worth the effort. If your people are happy, their productivity and engagement are higher, they will stick with your company and that is good for business.