While many may think that you can't have a company culture unless you're working a regular 9-to-5 in an office somewhere, that's not actually true. Cultivating a sense of company culture is possible -and just as important - for teams who are out there working in the field.
In order to have a company culture, it is imperative that the organization's values and goals are clearly communicated so that team members don't end up wasting time and other valuable resources working to fulfill a goal that's not in line with the company's vision.
Money isn't everything. You may have to sacrifice profitability in order to remain true to your company's vision, but it will pay off, trust me. When managers keep their company's goals front and center, they are better equipped to improve on their team's performance and to quickly resolve any issues that could rise up to threaten those goals.
Once the company's mission has been established and properly communicated, the next thing you should be doing is getting to know your employees better. You're probably asking, "What? Why?" And the answer is: because if you are more aware of your employees' preferred work preferences and lifestyles, then you are more likely to create a culture that will be agreeable to everyone. Plus, you get the added bonus of involving your team in decision-making processes, which makes them feel more included in the very company culture that you are trying to cultivate.
Connection is Key
Making sure that your team feels connected to the company and its goals is crucial to establishing company culture, as are their connections to each other - especially when working remotely - and this is best accomplished through regular communication.
Instant messaging programs are particularly effective, as they allow for instant communication throughout the day without the delays that come from having to wait for someone to respond to an e-mail. Case in point: a team member shares a problem or concern they are experiencing via an instant message, and within minutes his/her peers have responded with support and a potential solution.
Not only does this kind of messaging strengthen the bonds between employees, but it also provides an opportunity for managers to get involved, should that become a necessity. Of course, this form of communication is not just reserved for complications; employees can share their successes with each other as a way of boosting morale for the entire team.
As a manager, you should allow for off-topic conversations to take place in these forums, too (within reason, of course), since remote employees don't have as many chances to "chat by the water-cooler," so to speak. Off-hours online gaming sessions are also great ways to connect, as is the sharing of content like blog posts/articles, funny GIFs and memes, etc. that are relevant to the job at hand.
You can also host off-site, informal meetings to provide more opportunities for employees to play catch-up with each other. And it probably goes without saying that correspondence in these forums should always be positive -- sure, memes about incompetent employees may be funny, but that kind of negative energy can also be damaging. Employees want to feel like they're being helpful and solving problems, not being the cause of them.
With a strong company culture behind it, your company can enjoy a more powerful image, improved levels of engagement from your team, and better alignment between your staff and your company's vision. And regularly re-enforcing relationships within your team fans the flame of productivity.
Does your company enjoy a strong company culture, or could it use some pep? See how your company culture measures up against that of your peers by clicking below to receive our free Field Force Productivity Assessment.