At EGO, we’ve always been flexible in allowing our team members to work from home when they needed to. Even before the pandemic, we had multiple employees who were completely remote—but for the past 8.5 months, we’ve all been WFA (working from anywhere!). While most of us are still in or nearby Birmingham, a number of EGO employees embarked on new adventures in places like Paris, London, and New York! And in the spirit of new beginnings, we spent the better part of this year reimagining and renovating our Birmingham office space from a busy, cramped, social-distancing-unfriendly, open floor plan environment into what we’re now calling the EGO Studio. Here are a few of its awesome features:
While we’re grateful to have made lemonade out of the lemons we were given this year and excited for the incredible space our studio team will get to take advantage of every day, we’ve also had to make big adjustments for the majority of our staff who will now be permanently remote. So, with all of our new-found knowledge from the craziness that was 2020, we’re coming at you with eight tips for creating an awesome remote company culture.
With remote work comes a new set of needs and challenges, some of which simply won’t be met by the tools your company is currently using. Whether it’s a project management tool, a communication/messaging app, or a video conferencing software, make sure your technology allows for effective collaboration and a seamless workflow. If you’re expecting employees to be as productive at home as they are in an office space, make sure they have what they need to do so. And that goes for communication outside of work, too—we started using Slack after transitioning to working remotely and it’s helped our team culture tremendously by giving us a place to talk about “lunch table topics” like music, movies, and (of course) our pets.
In addition to improving team communication and collaboration, it’s also important to check in on the individual level. Since you won’t just pass by people in the hallway or see them at the water cooler, you’re going to have to be active and intentional about setting up one-on-one time to talk—especially when it comes to onboarding new hires. It may even be helpful to start by setting up coffee dates, lunch chats, or video happy hours between people to get them in the habit of connecting virtually.
Are you still expecting your employees to work strictly from 9 to 5, or does it not matter so much as long as they’re still working the full 40 hours each week? How should folks alter their work schedules if they’re traveling (or living) in a different time zone? What about attire? Still business casual, or are sweatshirts and onesies acceptable? Getting ahead of things like this—and ideally adding them to job descriptions as well as a “remote work” section of your employee handbook—is a good idea to avoid potential issues or miscommunications.
For pretty much everything you did to keep employees happy while they were in the office, there’s a remote alternative. Snack room? Try curated snack boxes delivered to your employees’ homes. Massages and wellness areas for relaxation? Try providing your employees with a monthly stipend so they can de-stress however they’d like. You might have to be a bit creative here to start, but all of these things will seem totally normal in no time.
This one’s pretty self-explanatory. In addition to holding our monthly team meeting virtually, we’ve hosted a ton of virtual non-work activities! Some of our favorites are trivia/game night, book club, happy hour (also known as EGO Libations), and yoga. We’re also gearing up for an absolutely epic holiday party later this month! (The plan for virtual karaoke afterward is still TBD, but where there’s a will there’s a way, right?)
We’re big fans of virtual events, but we’re also so excited for when it’s safe to gather in person! On at least a yearly basis, try getting the team together for an all-company retreat or summit where folks can chat without all of the awkward Zoom moments. If your company is big enough, you can even have regional meetups on a regular basis as well. Meeting in person, even if it’s just once a year, will help your employees build real relationships that they can more easily maintain remotely.
Creating a high-performing remote team is much easier if everyone understands and is aligned with the company’s mission and values. So, this might be a good time to take another look at what yours are and make sure they align with this new normal of remote work. If they do, then great—focus on communicating those values clearly and concisely to both your existing employees and any new hires. If they don’t, rewrite them! Ultimately, though, values work only when leaders live and exhibit them—so make sure you’re practicing what you preach.
For most companies right now, completely remote work is a relatively new adventure—and no one is going to do it perfectly on the first go. Let your employees share with you what they think is working and what isn’t, whether it’s via all-hands meetings, smaller “town halls,” surveys, or one-on-one chats. A culture based upon constructive feedback will not only make the company better, but it will also empower employees to speak their minds knowing that their opinions will be heard.
Interested in joining our team? Let’s chat!