How to Improve The Culture in Your Workplace
Ask 10 different leaders why they’ve chosen to do things the way they do and you’ll get 10 different answers. And that’s OK. Why? Because knowing your ‘why’ is a cornerstone to creating – and fostering – a company culture as a leader.
Culture is something pre-existing in your company’s genetic code; it’s not something that employees bring with them. Instead, leaders seek out those individuals who they feel would be a good match with their existing vision for the company.
But for a buzzword like ‘culture,’ it’s often easier to say what culture isn’t, rather than to try and define what it actually is – or at least should be. Culture is not Secret Santa gift exchanges, karaoke contests, Nerf gun fights, catered food-truck lunches, or even a zip-lining outward-bound excursion with your co-workers. While those things are awesome, it’s a shared vision – not a shared space – that creates culture. It is about instilling a sense of belonging for your employees and ensuring they identify with the greater mission and values of the company, despite being a hybrid workforce.
Here, you’ll learn the importance of creating your own brand of culture — and everything you need to do to maintain it.
What Is Workplace Culture?
In the business world, culture isn’t about shared rituals, dress, or cuisine.
It’s about the way your employees view and treat one another. It’s about how interpersonal conflicts are handled. It’s about how you celebrate successes, and how you overcome failures. It’s about how (and how often) your team communicates. It’s about how officers interact with junior employees. It’s about a shared commitment to reaching shared goals in a way that everyone has agreed upon.
At BELAY, we make no bones about our spiritual beliefs.
The very first thing on our list of core values is “God” and we make clear that our faith informs our sense of professional stewardship. That said, you don’t have to be Christian, or even believe in God, to work with us. We believe that all people should be treated with dignity and respect, regardless of their beliefs.
The only thing we ask of our employees is that they share in that mutual respect. And that works as an excellent illustration of what is and isn’t company culture — what defines our culture most is the shared respect, not the shared belief.
Workplace Culture for Remote Employees
Across the many studies done on hybrid work, one challenge, in particular, has been consistent – hybrid employees feel more isolated, and less connected to their coworkers.
That’s a major issue and one that could potentially undo some of the benefits that hybrid work brings.
The good news, however, is that it can be overcome. And one of the key ways to do so is by cultivating a strong hybrid work culture.
In business, hybrid work culture refers to the shared values, behaviors, and beliefs that unify a geographically diverse team, and guide them towards common goals.
That means you need to be your culture’s best spokesperson.
The greatest spokespeople aren’t just cheerleaders; they’re also educators.
So that means that you must clearly define your hybrid work culture before you can effectively promote it. To bridge the geographical gaps on your hybrid team, you need to communicate your company’s culture in both clear and inspiring ways.
Start by creating a “manifesto” – a document that defines your corporate identity, its values, and its guiding principles in the most definite terms possible.
Creating Culture in Remote Teams
In our nearly 12 years as a remote company, we’ve proven that a shared vision – not shared spaces – creates a culture. It is about instilling a sense of belonging for your employees and ensuring they identify with the greater mission and values of the company, despite being a remote workforce.
And contrary to what others may – GASP! – still believe, we’ve proven, time and time again, that culture can be created without an office. And our awards and acknowledgments for culture are living proof of this.
We’ve won these major culture and business awards from prominent national magazines and outlets despite the fact that not a single one of our team members shares an office.
Because we understand how culture is really created. Because we instill our mission and values of gratitude, teamwork, vision, passion, fun, and God into every one of our 2,000+ remote workforce team members.
Organization for a Thriving Culture
Maybe ‘organization’ and ‘culture’ don’t immediately connect for you. And that’s understandable. But hear us out.
Just as making your bed every day gets you in the mindset of being organized, as a leader, being organized when it comes to your calendar, email, DropBox folders, chart of accounts, Basecamp projects, and more is much the same.
Organization is a must to succeed and sustain in a hybrid team – not to mention what peers, boss, board of directors, and others expect. If you really want to develop a meaningful hybrid culture in your organization, you must take organization seriously.
If you’re a scattered leader in your office and your on-site assistant is paid to clean up after you and organize your notes, emails, and more, then a solid hybrid culture is likely not on your horizon.
When you’re disorganized, it also shows your clients and staff how well they’re likely to be cared for. And when you are disorganized, it communicates that systems, processes and work instructions are to be disregarded.
So, begin by looking in the mirror!
As a leader, the way you act and work gives your employees permission to act in the same way (good or bad). Real leaders understand you cannot expect from others what you are not willing to do yourself.
So, if you want a healthy hybrid culture, it must be consistently and completely organized. Getting organized is tough, especially if it’s not something you are in the habit of doing.
Essential Practices For Maintaining Work Culture in Remote Teams
Unlike a physical environment, a cultural environment isn’t something that you can see, taste, touch, or smell; it is the only environment that you can feel.
It’s that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you dread going to work or the excitement you feel when you’re actually eager to go to work.
For us – and this may seem contrived – even though we don’t go to the office every day, we really, truly have fun working together.
Our vibrant culture is what makes having fun at work possible. It’s inextricably linked to our vision and by design, our team willingly – and enthusiastically – embodies that. We leave no margin for ‘kinda sorta’ cultural commitments; you’ve got to be all in, contributing to the greater good. It’s a hum. A verve. A vibe. An electricity.
Hybrid Culture Kryptonite: The Toxic Employee
There is no single greater threat to the success of your hybrid culture than toxic employees.
Toxic employees can be like the black mold growing behind your walls — they fester and flourish, often without you noticing until suddenly everyone around is sick and distressed and no one really knows why.
Toxic attitudes manifest themselves in a host of different behaviors, ranging from passive-aggressive comments and actions to downright rudeness.
These behaviors will sink not only your organization’s culture and morale, but will eventually make their way to your bottom line in terms of lost productivity and the time and effort your managers have to exert in dealing with the destruction these toxic employees leave in their wake.
You, as the leader, are the only one who can do anything about toxic behavior in your workplace. And if you don’t, you’re showing your team that you are sanctioning incompetence.
When you let behavior like this slide, you’re telling your team that this behavior is OK with you. You’re also compromising your leadership by not acting, and showing your team that they can’t trust you to confront this kind of behavior. And that will cost you even more.
Lead Anyone From Anywhere: Curated Advice for Fostering a Healthy Workplace Culture
Driving a strong company culture without sharing a physical space requires authenticity, support, and engagement to elevate your culture beyond the physical – and lays the foundation for your company to thrive, regardless of zip or area code.
But to achieve that, there’s a lot of intentionality that goes into how you create an environment and an organization that feels cohesive, connected, and engaged when you’re actually not all in the same building together.
You can do it, and this book will help.
Download Lead Anyone From Anywhere to dig deeper and grow as a leader of a hybrid team – for free!