Peter Drucker famously said, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast, operational excellence for lunch, and everything else for dinner.” We’ve all been thrust into the world of remote working and that brings with it all-new cultural challenges. There are some great examples of a small business culture where remote working was the norm much before the COVID-19 pandemic.
You might be surprised to know that these organizations have some of the most productive employees and cohesive teams
If you aren’t used to working together remotely, however, the situation presents many challenges and more than its fair share of change management.
Let’s take a look at what such companies do right and dissect a few ways to get small business culture right when working remotely.
1. Make a Note of Cultural Markers That Are Important to You
If you haven’t consciously created the work culture you’re looking to manage, you won’t know when it spirals out of control. Create a list of practices that you believe are intrinsic to your small business culture.
When creating this list, go back and check each item against the thought of “the company won’t be the same if we’re not doing this/if this is not met”.
Even if you are a small business that is trying to make its mark in the world, you should start off by establishing what is OK and what is unacceptable for your organization’s culture.
2. Small Business Culture Should Enforce Open Communication
You’ll notice we didn’t dilly-dally with subtle words like “encourage communication”. One of the drawbacks of working remotely is that the easy interaction and communication that comes with working in close proximity can no longer be taken for granted.
You need to enforce habitual communication for it to become a way of life in the remote culture too – and while you may feel like you’re literally forcing people to interact, it will become more organic over time.
Communication is key to team collaboration and that also can suffer when the team is working remotely. It is key that large and small businesses, alike, should try and invest in tech tools to facilitate a lot of the organizations’ processes seamlessly.
If you haven’t used a task management software, collaboration tool or Sales CRM software earlier, this might be a good time to explore them.
3. Be Transparent
These are uncertain times and employees don’t really know what to expect. The uncertainty, combined with the natural distance that gets created, can lead to a lot of unnecessary stress.
Transparency is what will help your employees put greater faith in you as a leader at this time – rather than sugar-coating facts, they need someone who gives it to them as straight as possible, with a positive can-do outlook.
Small Businesses may face headwinds often and have restricted resources to battle them.
However, if you talk to your employees openly, they will stand by you in these difficult times and you can bounce back together.
4. Create Channels for Informal Interaction
Employees in an office don’t just interact at meetings – they continuously form bonds and rapport simply by the power of being around each other. This doesn’t happen in a remote environment, so it’s something you’ll need consciously to bring about.
One way to do this is to organize online mixers with ice breakers once in a while or to establish chat channels for people with common interests.
5. Make FaceTime Mandatory
Too many people conduct zoom or video meetings in general with their cameras off. Make it a point to keep video mandatory – at least for some meetings if not all – to ensure that employees get enough face time with each other and with you.
The video aspect of video conferencing software is, after all, what keeps the experience as close to an in-person conversation.
While these suggestions may not sound like rocket science, we can assure you they’re effective. After all, so much of great leadership is simply good common sense, discipline and courtesy.
So, no matter which measures you take, remember to reach out and stay in touch with your employees!
Keep a finger on the pulse of your organization (that’s what middle management is for too) and run surveys if required. The only way to really maintain your small business culture is to be proactive about it.
We hope we’ve shared some ideas you can implement right away!
If you have any questions or any other suggestions you’d like to add on, feel free to drop a comment below.