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Making connections from afar: building a successful company culture remotely

13th Mar 2023
Brought to you by
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Award winning CRM & practice management software

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When you’re in a good work culture, you can feel it. The openness, flexibility, fun and collaboration – it’s hard to beat. However, work culture has changed over the last three years. With the rise of remote jobs (a staggering 30% of the workforce worked remotely in 2022), it can be difficult maintaining that collaborative nature when your team’s dispersed in different locations. 

Our expectations and work-life boundaries have also changed. One example of this could be client meetings now done on Zoom. Tasks are getting done in ways we were fairly unfamiliar with prior to COVID-19. Same can be said for staff; coffee runs have turned into Nespressos at home and office chats have become headphones blaring your favourite podcast. So, how can you bring that human element back to work? How can you evoke a culture of openness, fun and collaboration in your firm with a remote team? 

Get to know your team beyond work 

Sure, it may seem obvious, but get to know your team on a more personal level. What do they get up to outside of work? Do they play golf? Do they like gardening? What holidays have they been on recently? Are they mostly a team of introverts or extraverts? You could send out a short personality quiz that focuses on their hobbies and communication styles, and some incorporate fun activities based on those insights. 

For example, if a lot of them are into hikes you could set up a walking challenge during the summer. This way, you’re still building that fun, inclusive collaborative culture – while still keeping it remote. If a lot of them own pets you could do a ‘pet show and tell’ day on a group video call – and the same could done for plants, books or whatever they’re into. If they’re based in different countries or vary in nationality, make sure to focus on diversity too. What international events can you incorporate and celebrate to provide a more inclusive environment? All of this helps to build team camaraderie, no matter where they are geographically or where they call home. 

Another question to consider is where do your employees actually want to work? Do they prefer working by themselves or would they prefer more team-based work? Sending out a survey that gets them talking about what they like and dislike in their roles can be a great starting point, indicating their strengths and skillsets, letting you make more strategic decisions around the culture you want to build in your firm. 

Bring purpose to the office 

Depending on your setup, a couple of times a year many remote teams come together to meetup for a day in the office. This is when company culture comes to life. This can go a number of ways – just like birthday parties. Nobody likes sitting around awkwardly twiddling their thumbs. They want to be engaging with others, eating cake, dancing, singing and just having a good ol’ time. So, when you invite your team to the office, make sure to bring purpose to their day. Bring them out for a team lunch or incorporate some team building exercises too. No, we’re not talking about the cringy ‘tell us a random fact about yourself’ ice-breakers - we mean  using this time in-person to work collaboratively on a project, or discuss any particular client queries. This all helps to promote a sense of unity and stacks onto that team culture, while still staying productive.  

Set a shining example 

Managers are the parents of the team – and like all parents – you need to lead by example. Whatever’s going on at the top tends to trickle its way down into the rest of the team – whether it’s positive or negative – so think about what values you want your team to have. For example, if you want to promote a more flexible culture then start by being more flexible with your team. Working remotely often means people have different schedules, which can make it hard to stay connected. So, consider offering more flexitime, which gives your team the freedom to choose their own breaks and deviate from standard working hours. Of course, you'll need to ensure that they continue to meet their deadlines, but this approach could boost job satisfaction, which could have a ripple effect and boost in productivity. This will help ensure that everyone feels like they are part of the team and not just another cog in the machine. 

Another example could be wanting to promote a more open culture. If you’re a closed book, don’t be shocked and annoyed if everyone else comes across as aloof and distant. Set an example by practicing openness. Take time out each week for casual catch ups with your clan; chit chat about shared interests and reward them for their accomplishments, whether they’re personal or professional. Some of your team may find it difficult working remote, so when they speak up about it, offer advice on how to work from home effectively. When you prioritise incorporating your values into work and interactions, it’ll soon become second nature. And once your team feels comfortable enough, they’ll start replicating that behaviour – simple cause and effect. 

Make use of technology 

Working remotely can be beneficial and cost-effective, but it can also be a challenge to maintain that sense of culture when your team’s spending too much time on admin. Fortunately, there are ways your team can cut down on admin, leaving you with more time to invest in building a more connected culture. 

That’s where practice management software comes in. Rather than workload being spread too thin across multiple time-zones, you can easily track progress, deadlines, and where your team’s spending their time all from just a login on your browser. Your team can track all their client communication, store client records in the system, and see exactly what they need to work on and when it needs to be done by. They can also build workflows that breaks those tasks down into more bite-sized pieces, creating a more structured and organised workflow for your team. Whenever they’re finished a subtask, the person assigned to the next task gets notified. It acts as the heartbeat of your firm – carrying your firm’s work all from the one place, rather than getting bogged down on finickity tasks. 

Building a successful remote culture isn’t impossible 

Building a strong remote culture in any industry takes time, patience, and creative thinking, especially in an industry as fast-paced as accounting. With dedication and commitment, there’s no reason why a successful remote culture isn’t possible (without sacrificing productivity). 

To learn more about how practice management software can free up time for collaboration (who doesn’t want to spend less time rattling their computer and more time attending remote parties?) then book a free demo of Bright’s multi-award-winning practice management solution, AccountancyManager, below. 

Book a Bright product demo

Eleanor vaughey

 

 

  Written by Eleanor Vaughey | Bright

 

 

 

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