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Modern office space, free meals, and maybe a ping-pong table or two. That's what attractive company culture used to look like. But as many make the transition to hybrid work, how do you keep your office and company culture alive and well?

It's true, fancy in-office perks are cool, but they're no substitute for meaningful, and often unseen factors that shape the vitality of an organization. Think values, ethics and behaviour. But how do these show up in the everyday? It's in how you communicate and connect. How you appreciate and recognize your team. And how you make tough decisions.

With offices in Vancouver and Toronto, the Saul Good team has worked hard to maintain our company culture despite being miles apart, and we sure know of the challenges that come with remote work. If you're feeling disconnected now that you've gone remote, or feel that you've lost your core values after growth, the good news is that company culture is an evolving journey. As a leader, the power is in your hands, but you must be attentive in guiding it in the right direction.

The reality is, how you care, connect and recognize those around you are the starting points of company culture.  But working from home has changed how we go about doing this. Below we dive into the core factors that can help your team get back on track in a remote world.

Make Trust, Communication & Employee Wellbeing Top Priorities

Trust and employee well-being are key in a remote work environment. Trust is often lost in grey areas, so we recommend nurturing this aspect by setting clear expectations, engaging in effective communication, being open to vulnerability, increasing moments of informal connection and avoiding moral-crushing micromanaging.

In real life, this looks like setting the frequency of check-ins (ex: when to reach out by Slack, for example, or via call, and making these easily accessible in your "Remote Work Office Guide." A guide makes it clear for everyone and makes it easier for you to communicate expectations to new team members or potential new hires.

By nurturing trust, you're also supporting your team's well-being. Burnout, loneliness, indifference, and mental health issues are more likely when boundaries between work and home are blurred and face-time dwindles. Avoid these common downfalls by nurturing patience and compassion, providing your team with varying leave options, and promoting wellness in general through group activities

Identify Employee Challenges

Taking stock of what's setting your team back is a great first step in overcoming challenges. You may even uncover hidden issues or discover that you're diverging from your core values.

It will be harder than ever to pinpoint challenges in a remote environment. Creating an atmosphere that encourages open dialogue and vulnerability provides a safe space to tackle issues before they grow into larger problems. Whether it's through one-on-one check-ins, bi-monthly surveys or group meetings, an open environment is one that offers psychological safety. 

Applaud team members who share new ideas, openly express gratitude to those who address potential issues, avoid playing the blame game, ensure that every employee's voice is recognized and practice active listening and non-violent communication skills with your team.

Reevaluate Your Appreciation and Recognition Programs

If you're a regular reader around here, you know that appreciation and recognition drive employee retention, productivity and overall happiness – raise a hand if you like the way that sounds, because we sure do! That's why we recommend teams overhaul their recognition rituals as they transition to remote or hybrid work.

Gone are the days when leaders can thank their team with a box of fresh donuts, impromptu team lunches, or unexpected notes on their desks. This may lead to many employees feeling lost or forgotten, with morale spiralling. In a recent Gallup survey, only 25% of employees received recognition for doing great work. How often are you showing appreciation to your team?

If you're hesitant about building your recognition program, you'll be happy to hear that the survey deduced that a 35% increase in engagement equated to a 28% improvement in performance and a reduction of 31% in absenteeism.

Effective employee engagement requires that managers and leaders recognize and display gratitude consistently and frequently. Annual or quarterly awards just won't cut it these days, and if that's the case, your team is likely burned out or has experienced a decline in their well-being. In fact, top organizations now approach recognition programs with the same importance as health insurance or gym membership. It's now an essential part of work life.

Recognition doesn't have to be complicated. Small and big wins deserve recognition and it can start as early as today with a simple thank you on your next Zoom call, or Slack message. But if your employee appreciation program needs a bit of tweaking, consider reaching out to our team of experts who'll be happy to guide you through the ins and outs of increasing happiness and performance through meaningful gifting.

Use the Right Tool Stack

The right tools make all the difference to your team's productivity and collaboration. And now that remote is becoming the default way of work, there's no shortage of tools to facilitate teamwork, communication and management in the cloud.

Encourage Moments of Informal Interaction

One of the biggest losses of remote life is the in-office interactions that used to pepper our days. R.I.P. to grabbing lunch with colleagues, quickly catching up in the office kitchen, or just exchanging smiles in the hallways. These small interactions cannot be undervalued and must be reintegrated somehow into your remote approach.

Integrating day-to-day human connection like this is one of the most challenging parts of remote life, but it's one that we pride ourselves in upholding. We encourage human connections by integrating in-person meet-ups, in-person office days, company retreats or creating an online environment for employees to meet.

Remote work is now an essential part of attracting and retaining top talent, but only when executed well. If you want to get the most out of your team, prioritize our tips to increase meaning, purpose and connection. As experts in appreciation and recognition, we’re available to help you make your transition to remote work as rewarding as possible. Feel free to reach out to a Saul Good team member today to get started.