Building thriving and high-performing cultures in a virtual workplace

While 2020 proved that large-scale remote working is a viable option, it also became clear that implementing technology for remote working is the easy part. For HR leaders, the real challenges are engaging and motivating remote employees as well as maintaining key attributes of a company’s culture in a virtual environment.

Building a high-performance culture is hard even when most employees are together in a physical workspace. According to a Gartner report, only 31% of HR leaders believed their organization had the necessary culture to drive future business performance. Creating such a culture among remote teams poses even more of a challenging for business leaders.

Here are our tips for building and maintaining a high-performance culture in a remote environment:

1. Identify and nurture the strong parts of your company culture

Determine what elements of your company’s culture make employees proud to be there. These may be factors that workers consistently single out as positives in opinion surveys, for example, customer service. If that is indeed one of your strong areas, you can make a regular practice of highlighting impressive customer testimonials and recognizing employees who go above and beyond.

2. Invest in your employee’s learning and growth

Investing in content-rich learning programs can significantly accelerate the development of your employees – a key component of high-performance cultures. Personalized learning that builds employees’ skills for both current and future roles will boost your organization’s overall capabilities. Learning management systems such as HR Learn make it easier to design and deliver customized learning paths, and employees will be able to access that personalized learning any time they choose.

3. Communicate, communicate, communicate…

A lot has been written about the importance of clear and consistent communication from company leaders, especially in a remote work environment. Otherwise, even your most engaged employees will be unclear about how to proceed. In high-performance companies, leaders communicate priorities and collaborate frequently, including in remote work environments. Tools such as Zoom, Microsoft Teams, and Slack make regular remote communication and collaboration possible, keeping teams focused on appropriate business priorities.

4. Leaders need to develop a new role based on empathy and trust

According to enterprise learning and talent management expert Josh Bersin, the pandemic has prompted leaders to “listen more, practice patience and humility, and trust people to do the right thing in very uncertain times.” Empowering and trusting your employees is an absolute must in a virtual environment as is evaluating employees based on their output and progress toward mutually-agreed-upon goals.

5. Don’t forget the human side

Your employees perform better in an environment that fosters camaraderie among coworkers. Many remote teams have cultivated this human connection through activities such as virtual trivia afternoons, virtual cocktail hours, and even online yoga classes.

Even if your company does not plan to maintain a remote or hybrid work environment, you can still use the basic principles behind these five tips to develop a high-performance culture. Creating and maintaining your company culture is a long-term game, but your short-term actions are critical building blocks. So, when (or if) your company returns to the physical office, build on these virtual work culture lessons.