Countless articles and business management books have been written about the importance of corporate culture. The culture of your workplace influences productivity, retention, recruitment, and even profitability and innovation. All of these resources focus on one 20th century notion; workspace.
The reality is that some of the most exciting businesses do not have a workspace. Instead, 21st century businesses like digital agencies, ecommerce companies, and consultants have remote teams located all over the globe. Often, only a handful of team members are online at any given time. Does culture still matter when you have a remote workforce?
Does culture matter? The short answer is “Yes!” Culture may actually be even more important for remote teams than working with everyone on the same campus.
Company culture provides team members a shortcut for making the kind of decisions that move the company forward. When you have people spread out across several time zones, it can be harder to get answers to time-sensitive questions. You cannot simply walk down the hall to find a resolution. Your team members may not even be awake when you are working.
If your team members all understand and live the company culture, they will know the right thing to do, no matter the circumstance.
Culture also provides your team a sense of community. Being a remote freelancer can often be lonely. It is typically just them and the computer screen. Having a robust company culture helps team members feel as if they are part of something bigger than themselves, instead of just being a hired hand.
When people feel connected to a larger mission their productivity improves. They are less likely to leave for another opportunity. When your remote team shares a culture, they are also more likely to speak up when they find a mistake or propose a good idea.
Culture by Choice or by Circumstances?
The truth about company culture is that it already exists. You can either promote a particular culture intentionally, or your company culture will develop as a result of circumstances.
Too often, founders of remote companies neglect the idea of culture which unintentionally creates a culture of procrastination, “good enough,” and one obsessed with transactions. Team members rarely have loyalty amongst each other, or even the company under these circumstances. The work will begin to suffer, and extremely talented team members will eventually turn in work of a steadily declining quality.
If this is not the type of team you want working in your business, you must promote the type of company culture you want to see. You have to structure interactions in a way that models the culture you are seeking.
The Test of Your Culture
Often the founder is the last one to know what the company culture is. If you want to discover what your company culture is composed of right now, ask your team what they enjoy most about working with you. Pay attention to see if their actions match up to their words. You will most likely be shocked at what you hear and see as you start to pay attention to what your team members actually think. They may not see themselves as a team at all. Each person may think of themselves as an autonomous vendor or freelancer that works for you.
If you want to change the company culture you need to understand what the culture currently is and what you want the culture to be.
Here at goLance, we understand the value of a strong culture for businesses with remote teams. That is why we are creating a blog series about how to instill the kind of culture you want with your remote team.
This post is a prelude to the 7 Steps to Creating a Strong Business Culture With Your Remote Team, and is part of a series that explores how to change the culture of your remote business.
We would love to hear from you. Please let us know what has worked for you in instilling a great company culture with your remote teams or what mistakes you have made with your business culture.
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