How to build a strong remote work culture in 2021. Remote doesn’t have to mean disconnected. Build a strong remote work culture during the pandemic. 

Two thirds  of executives feel that a physical office space is key to employee productivity, and about the same number feel employees should visit the  office a minimum of three days per week in order to maintain a distinct company culture, according to a January 2021 Remote Work survey by PricewaterhouseCoopers. But with the Coronavirus/COVID-19 still sweeping across the United States and many remote employees feeling unsafe returning to the office, it could be months before that happens

So, how can workforces maintain a strong remote work culture in 2021 if they feel a physical space is key to success? Just like remote work may not come naturally to every employee, a strong remote work culture doesn’t happen without effort from employers. Supporting your remote workforce and keeping them connected outside of the office requires intentionality and practice. 

Try these three strategies to help develop your remote work culture in 2021, regardless of how long your team is stuck at home. 

  1. Communicate deliberately and transparently with your workforce. 

In the office, quick questions and passing conversations go a long way to helping business run smoothly. At home, communication becomes more complicated and even a passing question to a coworker may require extra steps. 

Clear, consistent communication is a cornerstone of successful remote work culture. Make the avenues of communication available to your employees very clear and encourage their use as often as people need — whether that’s email, telephone or video calls, or an instant messaging service such as Slack or Google Hangouts. Actively check in with your employees and give them individual attention and opportunities to ask questions. 

It’s also important to keep your remote team up to date on company share company goals. Working alone from home can be isolating and it may be hard for an employee to stay motivated if they can’t see the bigger picture. Create a remote work culture where individual goals are aligned with the company’s needs. Team members generally work together better if they can fully understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, and how their individual actions impact the company as a whole. 

  1. Celebrate employee successes (and remember to say thank you). 

Positive reinforcement is another factor in a positive remote work culture. Employees are commonly affected by negativity bias, a behavioral phenomenon where individuals are more impacted by negative events than positive events of equal intensity. A positive remote work culture is more likely to form when employees are working towards acknowledgement for hard-won achievements, rather than in fear of being reprimanded. Additionally, pointing out personal wins on a team or company-wide scale can be a great way to encourage conversation between remote employees and connect separate team members with a common victory. 

  1. Encourage consistent work-life-balance, even while remote. 

When your office is your bedroom, the lines between your “on” hours and your “off” hours can become blurred. You leave work, but your laptop is still right in front of you. If you work ceaselessly and don’t take strong breaks, productivity is bound to decrease. 

Finding this balance is especially important during the COVID-19 pandemic. The events of 2020 have left workers everywhere dealing with significant emotional exhaustion. Many members of your team may be dealing with financial struggles, mental health issues or even personal losses related to COVID-19. Team members deserve to feel that their work matters to the organization beyond their day-to-day productivity, and that their employers are concerned with their personal wellbeing in addition to their work output. Encourage employees to work hard when it’s work time and enjoy the other aspects of their life when it’s break time. 

Ultimately, these tactics should all work together to increase your employee buy-in. When everyone feels like a team, supported and united under one vision, then the work culture will fall into place.

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