How your company can make remote workers feel at home

Remote workers are becoming an increasingly popular option for many companies across the U.S. According to the most recent Gallup poll, 37 percent of those surveyed answered “yes” to the question, “Have you ever telecommuted, that is, worked from your home using a computer to communicate for your job?” This represents an interesting challenge for HR representatives working with managers to create a solid company culture. Having a nebulous workforce may actually change the very definition of company culture – after all, how does an enterprise make remote workers feel welcome when they may only rarely ever step through the office doors?

What is company culture?
Before redefining the term for remote workers, there should a working definition of what company culture actually is. On its own, the term itself is rather vague, but in this instance it refers to the shared language, motivation, processes and camaraderie that, when combined, separate one company from another. The culture that exists within a Wall Street financial institution would be quite different from that of a tech startup in Silicon Valley, for instance. Company culture is usually influenced by managerial styles, company rule books and investment in human capital.

Remote workers don't get the same experience as those on-site.Remote workers don’t get the same experience as those on-site.

Company culture and motivation
One reason why so many enterprises are concerned with having a good company culture is that it can have a direct effect on motivation and productivity. The Harvard Business Review pinpointed six motives behind why people work. They are summarized here:

  • Potential: When the work can directly benefit individual employees.
  • Play: When the work is enjoyable.
  • Purpose: When employees value the impact of the work.
  • Economic: When employees are rewarded for work or punished for not working.
  • Emotional pressure: When employees feel a threatened sense of identity.
  • Inertia: When employees work simply because it is what they’ve done in the past.

Company cultures that are able to use the positive forms of motivation such as play and potential, and limit the negatives like emotional pressure, are healthy. Other factors such as customer satisfaction and organizational process will augment or decrease motivation accordingly, as well. In essence, company culture matters because it can serve as a key driver of motivation and productivity. And while investment in culture can be economic, it can just as easily be something less tangible and less costly to the bottom line.

How to involve remote workers in company culture
If company culture is so vital to motivation, it becomes apparent that enterprises need a strategy in place for remote workers. One could reason that, without contact with the company culture, remote workers would be less motivated. No contact with the culture means remote workers would be greatly driven by economic pressure and less so by play, purpose or potential.

ERE Media suggested that companies with remote workers should build strong lines of communication and develop a culture of appreciation. Using tools such as chat software and visual conferencing software can keep remote workers in the loop. Rather than feel as if they are separated on their own island, remote workers will be just a few clicks away from a real-time conversation with their on-site managers and coworkers. Similarly, recognizing the accomplishments of remote workers will develop their sense of purpose and potential within the company.