We had a remote workforce across the US and the globe before remote was viable, the norm or even thought of mind for almost every company. Before the ubiquity of Zoom, Slack, and the pandemic freezing in-person office attendance, our company thrived with a work-from-anywhere culture.
We forged a path that empowered employees located around the country to work autonomously, independently, and across teams -- all with relative ease. To achieve an efficient workforce, we had to implement a few protocols to achieve an efficient and engaged employee base (and avoid becoming an unknown cyber entity). We never wanted our employees to forget the fact that, although they worked at home, they were a member of our company’s community.
In 2019, before the pandemic changed the world, we began implementing various technologies and processes to accommodate remote work. This included giving our employees unlimited paid time off to take care of what they need in their personal lives. To continue listening to our staff and their needs, our shift was partly because some employees requested to work from home and partly because we had trouble finding employees in the Dallas Fort-Worth area with the select skills we needed. So, we set a plan to get the systems in place that could accommodate remote work. That allowed us to expand our talent search.
When the pandemic hit, we already were prepared as we watched former colleagues, friends, and family's companies and jobs go into crisis mode. We were operating in our status-quo.
It was much easier for us to transition to a remote organization than for other companies because we already had the technology and operational bugs mostly worked out. Instead of being confined to the labor pool in our headquarters immediate area -- Frisco, Texas -- we were able to hire talented professionals all over the US and in countries including Jordan, Bosnia, India, and Canada.
Welcome to the Team
Moving from the office to everywhere also meant we had to find a way to preserve our company culture and keep our unique vibe functioning. The more spread out the teams were, the more essential it was to provide a foundation of unity. We knew that when employees felt disconnected, devalued, or left out of the group, they would start looking for another place to work. We’ve defined three essential strategies to maintain our company culture.
1) Let's play a game
The first is investing in team activities at a regular cadence. Employees must know and trust each other, so we invest in monthly activities focusing on collaboration and problem-solving to reinforce those bonds.
But work shouldn't be all work. We host fun activities during business hours, so no one sacrifices downtime or afternoons away from family and friends. Who wouldn't want to play great games while on the clock?
We've hosted a virtual murder mystery party, an escape room event, and even a gameshow extravaganza. We promote cross-functional bonds and fuel a friendly competitive spirit. The result was threefold:
- Employees got to laugh and de-stress
- They got to know one another, so they had a name to call when a work issue or need arose (collaboration and problem solving)
- They felt like the company valued their time and energy
It's a win all around because happy employees are engaged. And, that's good for business too.
2) What do you want to learn?
The second strategy is individual development. This means we buy into an employee, so they buy into their job. Our company culture pillars are place, path, and purpose. We communicate these principles to employees, so they know how their role fits into the company, how they impact our success, and how much we value their contributions.
We also offer monthly events focusing on identifying and building the skills an employee needs to succeed at our company. We call this effort our Foundational Capabilities Model. These skills then ladder up to our Institutional Learning Objectives, which are the broader educational/training/learning goals we've defined for the organization.
We want to upskill our teams and meet institutional objectives, while having some fun along the way.
3) Join the club
The third strategy for preserving company culture is hiring people who are the right fit. This is easier said than done. We want professionals who are driven by an entrepreneurial spirit and out-of-the-box thinking. Our business requires staff members with a high level of self-regulation, autonomy, and the ability to troubleshoot problems independently. We need “learn-as-they-go thinkers” who can then use that knowledge to solve upcoming issues. We want motivated individuals to excel. Hiring for cultural fit requires spending more hours on recruiting, but the effort is time well spent.
While it's 100% true that a remote workforce can change the game, the rules of business remain the same. Your company is a collection of people. Stay focused on building a positive, employee-centric organization. Where they work will become another typical day at the office.