Over the past six months, the normal workflow has been disrupted by a change in environment. The typical office setting we were so used to turned remote, making it so we now input data and conduct meetings while staring at the dirty dishes in our home sinks. The stress of this switch to the virtual world has had our clients on-edge and the thought of hiring, training, and scaling all while remaining aligned with company culture is overwhelming.
However, it’s mission-critical to see that the virtual world offers many opportunities for greatness. Verne Harnish, author of, “Scaling Up: Why A Few Companies Make It…and Why the Rest Don’t,” a book which gives practical tools to team members and leaders about how to contribute to the growth of a company, says, “If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don’t bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.” The introduction of technology in the work process should be seen as an opportunity rather than merely an adaptation.
We have worked hard to troubleshoot the tough challenges that come with leading a remote team so that you can see the ‘gold’ in the switch to the virtual world. Let us help you easily adapt so that you can progress your business without compromising company culture.
Challenges Of Leading Remotely
When offices turned remote this past spring for the sake of health, teams were hit with unexpected obstacles in which to overcome. Work-life balance was one of the biggest. Many teams had and are still having a difficult time “shutting off” when the clock strikes five or showing up on time prepared to work. The merge of home and work also introduced other issues such as finding a quiet spot to concentrate and focus, as well as tuning out others in their home space.
Another grand challenge presented to teams through working virtually is communication. Communication is easy in an office space with people working closely, however, when teams are spread out and remote it can be tough for a leader to bring everyone together.
In addition to these obvious issues, there is the issue of sustaining company culture while working remotely. Sustaining company culture in the workplace is essential to a company’s success. When teams are working in a company office environment, it is much easier to promote company culture and ensure that values are being adhered to.
It’s not just the act of sustaining company culture on their teams that leaders need to be concerned with. Leaders must also hire, train, and scale their businesses with company culture in mind. Let’s take a look at how to make this happen virtually.
Hiring Via Zoom
As a leader, hiring is a challenge in itself. It is often difficult to find the ‘right’ person who has the company’s best interests at heart, the eagerness to learn, and a skill set that is fit for the position. However, hiring via Zoom can be even more of a headache because of the unfamiliarity of the technology and the innate coldness of virtual correspondence.
To have a successful hiring process, a vital way to make sure that the candidate will fit into the company culture is to ask value-centric questions. These questions will help ensure that the candidate’s values align with the core values of the company.
Here are some examples of questions to ask:
- Have you ever experienced someone showing you compassion in the workplace? If so, please explain.
- Talk about a time when you had to work one-on-one with a difficult client. How did you handle it?
- Explain the process of the day-to-day workflow of the company to me as if you were training me.
- Give an example of past creative problem-solving you have done at work.
- Tell me how you see your position and your person contributing to the company’s mission.
When asking these questions, it’s very important to be in a quiet area in which you will not be disturbed. This is helpful to you, but it is also helpful for the candidate being interviewed as distractions may throw them off their game. Other factors may overwhelm them such as technical challenges, which come in many forms from audio problems to downloading new software in order to connect. It’s important to be forgiving and flexible with the interview and assume that your candidate is trying their best with this unfamiliar tool.
Although you must be forgiving with technical issues, it’s crucial that you continue to set the bar high for every interviewee. New technology can hinder an interviewee’s performance, however, it cannot take away from their skill set, experience, and qualifications. To get the most out of your interview, be sure to record it as technical hindrances may also blur your judgment on-the-spot and distract you from the information you need in order to hire successfully.
Another pro tip to ensure a quality interview experience is to adapt creatively with virtual tools. If you often ask a candidate to perform a task in real-time during an office setting interview, then find a way to make that happen virtually. Real-time task tests can be a great opportunity to see a potential employee’s skills in action.
Training Via Zoom
Training can be a tedious and long job for any leader or new hire. Learning and adapting takes time and patience on both ends. Adding virtual correspondence into that can make it even more frustrating. But, there are ways to make the process a little bit easier on both parties.
The biggest advice we have for you is to break it up. In the office, you may be able to get the training done in an hour or two, or maybe a week, depending on the position and the workload. However, when you turn the learning remote, the timeline may be lengthened and you must accept this to ensure the quality of your training does not decrease. It’s better to take longer to train than to train improperly and risk trouble down-the-road in the workflow.
Keeping employees engaged virtually can be a challenge, so being creative with your content is encouraged. Find fun ways to present the information, “hands-on” activities where new hires must participate, and focus on discussion rather than lecturing to be sure that the new hire is retaining all of the information.
If you are doing a group training session, it’s a good idea to focus on the relationships between the new hires. You are trying to add value to your team. Creating a new-hire community that aligns with the companies values through a training session is the perfect way to introduce new hires to your existing team.
It’s also important to incorporate some one-on-one attention and training to ensure that your new hire is understanding and retaining the material. The goal is to make them feel comfortable with their new position and capable to handle the day-to-day duties they will soon be assigned.
Scaling Via Zoom
Scaling a business does not stop just because everything in the workplace has turned virtual. In fact, many companies can benefit from this switch by digitizing content and condensing tasks to improve workflow and productivity. Social media naturally becomes a bigger part of a company’s strategy when they turn completely remote in order to gain recognition, presence, clients, and to move forward with marketing.
To scale via Zoom and other virtual platforms, you must choose the right tools to set a proper path of process. Be sure not to overwhelm your team with too many platforms or tools. Only include the technology that directly benefits your team. Slack and Zoom are two of the main tools that companies lean towards because of their user-friendly features. If you must add a calendar tool or project manager, as well, feel free to do so. Asana is one that helps to keep track of teams and projects by assigning tasks and having a “game-plan” readily available for all team members to view.
Using Zoom and other platforms to set the stage for company growth while working remotely is all about being creative with the tools you are using. While working remotely, careful evaluation and planning must take place during a virtual conference rather than the typical conference room. When using Zoom, it’s mission-critical that all team members are heard, so consider implementing a 3-second rule before a new speaker addresses a topic, this will help to make sure that team members do not talk over each other and that each point gets the attention it deserves. Also, be sure that team members have access to all the materials they need in order to do their job and contribute to the process in a timely and efficient manner.
If you are in a business where you need to secure money for projects, using Zoom instead of a call or an email to correspond with investors or partners can help to create a more personal connection while working remotely. Ideally, in-person meetings when discussing financial investments are the way to go, but during this time, it’s not always possible.
Using Technology For Company Culture Within Your Team
Now that we have touched on how to hire, train, and scale virtually, we must discuss how to keep company culture alive and well in remote working teams.
Communication is the key to promoting and ensuring a healthy company culture. It’s vital to call attention to visible actions and behavior that reinforce the company’s values. In an office setting, it’s easier for team member’s to take notice if a person did something which aligns with the companies values, remotely, however, it is not as clear. That’s why it is your job as a leader to call-out the ‘good’ to help encourage other team members to act in the same way. Positive reinforcement through praise can help to sustain the team’s mission and values.
One-on-ones and group video calls with your team are equally important. As a leader, it is your job to use the technology you have in order to connect, just as you would in the office, with all of your team members, both in private and group conferences. This helps to support your team both mentally and emotionally. Group meetings will also allow the team to feel as if they still have their work community which is important for both mental health as well as productivity.
Creating intimacy via Zoom in group meetings and one-on-ones helps to sustain a sense of normality. We wouldn’t mute our laughs in real life, so why do that in a virtual group meeting? Encourage open discussion, no mic mutes (unless there is an audio distraction), and a healthy amount of deviating from the topic at hand. All of this combined will aid in keeping that friendly work-relationship strong.
Another way to encourage the strong and friendly work-relationship aspect of company culture is to host participation events such as social lunch breaks, contests, game nights, and wellness activities such as midday yoga. Also, consider starting some free discussion Slack threads so that your team can talk throughout the workday about something other than the task at hand. Don’t think of this as slowing down productivity, as your team would be socializing in an office setting too. Socialization is an important part of company culture as it promotes compassion and empathy as well as diversity, innovation, and sharing one’s opinion.
Company culture on the outside may be seen as just social gatherings and casual Fridays, but the core of company culture is in how the teams work to create results. The switch to remote working should not compromise your identity. In fact, your identity should remain the same. Changing it would only disrupt the workflow and cause confusion among the team. Use the tools you have at your disposal to sustain your company culture and efficiency with the workflow will follow.
- What are the challenges of working remotely?
Three of the biggest challenges of working remotely are maintaining a work-life balance, communicating effectively, and sustaining company culture.
- How do you hire via Zoom?
To hire via Zoom, focus on value-centric questions, be forgiving with technology, continue to set the bar high for the interviewee, record the interview, and adapt creatively so that you and the candidate can have the same interview experience as if you were in an office setting.
- How do you train via Zoom?
To train via Zoom, it’s important to break up the session, focus on the team relationships, and engage the trainee with discussion to make sure they are retaining the information.
- How do you scale via Zoom?
To scale via Zoom, be sure to use only a couple of platforms so that the team is not overwhelmed by the introduction of new technology. When possible use video calls for investment meetings for a more personal feel.
- How do you promote company culture remotely?
Promoting company culture remotely is all about communication and bringing your team together in a variety of ways from game nights to group brainstorms on Zoom. Use positive reinforcement to encourage good behavior that aligns with company values.