While remote work offers employees benefits -- among them a redefined work-life balance and reduced commuting time -- it does have drawbacks. One such drawback is its effect on company culture. Remote workers miss out on the collaboration and socialization that come with in-person, face-to-face communication. And remote work is here to stay, even as the pandemic forces companies to reassess their back-to-office strategies.
Unified communications (UC) platforms can help remote workers regain some of that office culture through a variety of collaboration tools and features. Some are in the hands of IT to choose and put in place. Others need business leaders to adapt to the new reality of keeping remote workers motivated without the benefits of face-to-face interaction. Let's examine how to tap UC to sustain company culture in a remote work era.
1. Use video for one-on-one management/employee sessions
With many companies having some or all of their employees working remotely, management's top concern is that motivation and productivity remain high. One-on-one meetings can put employees at ease and keep communications open. UC platforms have the tools needed to replicate the feeling of an in-person, one-on-one meeting.
Video offers more than the opportunity to simply see a particular staff member. Managers can also determine how the employee reacts, assessing cues and body language signals that might signify frustration or tension. Employees can be praised for their performance in many ways, either vocally or through emojis, memes and GIFs sent via chat.
2. Allocate time for team breaks or huddles
Consider planned breaks that would invite different team members into a video call for an informal chat, like a virtual happy hour. These huddles should provide an avenue for employees to catch up on non-work-related subjects. These get-togethers should occur as often as necessary to let employees maintain their interoffice relationships.
3. Personalize your video, but be professional
Let employees customize their meetings backgrounds -- within reason -- to reflect their passions and interests. Zoom, for example, offers a variety of backgrounds. Other meeting software providers have their own offerings or support employees uploading their own background images.
Supporting the ability to customize a meeting can add levity to employee collaboration. Third-party services, like OBS, can also add advanced customization to video calls.
4. Have the right equipment for the job
It's not just about the software; ensure remote workers are equipped with the right devices and support. Good-quality cameras and microphones are essential for a high-quality UC experience. High-speed internet access is another important consideration; delays, buffering and lag all contribute to employee frustration.
In today's job market, where competition is keen and employees can work wherever they choose, companies have to find new ways to maintain their corporate culture. UC platforms are an important way for organizations to maintain company culture in remote work environments and keep employees connected beyond their business workflows.