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Author's profile photo Justin Borders

Remote Working: 3 Steps to Maintain Company Culture for Small to Medium Size Businesses

You’ve seen the headline 1000 times and in one way or another, it’s probably something you’re trying to navigate yourself. Ready or not, Covid-19 has forced us to reevaluate how we work and where we work. Remote working is the new normal, but what does this mean for small to medium size businesses and how are you ensuring that your company culture doesn’t fall apart in the process?

After some research, I came across an article by Susan M. Heathfield titled, How to Maintain Company Culture While Remote Working. According to the article, in a study conducted by Hinge Research Institute, it was found that over half of respondents believe culture is just as important as pay when seeking new employment. I personally would argue that this is even more important when talking about SMBs. SMB’s tend not to have the same amount of resources as larger enterprises, so maintaining a strong company culture is paramount in keeping your employees motivated and moving forward. With this in mind, I thought it might be interesting to share the 3 steps which I think are most crucial for SMBs to think about in this “new normal”.

 

Focus on and Define the Culture

 If you find yourself asking, “what exactly is my company’s culture?”, then you might want to take some time to concretely define the aspects of your company that differentiate it from others. These could be traditions, norms, daily meetings, how you approach employee development, or even the weekly lunch your employees share together. Involve your fellow employees and ask them what parts of the company they find most important.

You might be saying, “Okay, I’ve defined my company culture, but how do I translate that to remote working?”. You might be surprised but it’s simpler than you think. Whatever you do in-person at the office, do online too. Bring those weekly team meetings online. Share lunch together (virtually of course). If your company supports a collaborative culture, utilizing a software such as Microsoft Teams will enable your employees to continue working together in an efficient and safe manner. One of the many benefits of working for an SMB is that you generally will know if not all of, a large portion of your coworkers. Giving your employees the tools for them to continue communicating with each other and building relationships is critical to maintaining and strengthening your company culture.

Something that’s often overlooked when talking about remote work is the physical aspect of it. The office also plays a central role in company culture and this part can be easily lost in remote work. The atmosphere surrounding your workspace is pertinent to worker efficiency and staying focused. For example, allowing your employees to take their office chairs home with them might help make their environment feel a bit more like the office.

 

Trust your Employees

 Trusting your employees is the cornerstone to remote working. You might be concerned that your workers won’t do what they are supposed to without someone watching them. Multiple studies have shown that remote workers are as productive, if not more productive in remote settings. At the end of the day, you wouldn’t have hired these people if you didn’t believe in their abilities to succeed in their role.

At the end of the day you wouldn’t have hired these people if you didn’t believe in their abilities to succeed in their role.

Despite that, there are ways to support your employees without micromanaging their every move. Some of the tools that the article mentioned to support remote work are:

  • Trello: workflow automation tool with collaborative “boards”
  • Slack: Collaboration tool for communication and file sharing
  • Cisco Jabber: Communication tool for messaging, calling, and conferencing

Take a look at different tools and find out which tool best supports the needs of your workers and company. It’s key to understand that your employees are competent and able to work on their own accord. By sharing and allowing collaboration on the day-to-day tasks of your employees, their motivation will increase as well.

 

Work-Life Balance

Remote work has the negative tendency to blend home-life and work-life into one. It can be quite a daunting task to stay focused while your bed and work desk are in the same room. You must also consider those who must look after little ones who might be a little bit more restless than normal without school and extracurricular activities. The article suggested that childcare support, flexible hours, and establishing a concrete schedule for important meetings and events are a few of the ways you can support your workers in the new normal.

 

Conclusion

 Although the idea of remote working has existed for a few years now, 2020 has forced us to adapt and learn quickly on how to shift to remote working. We’ve learned that employees can work from home and be just as efficient as their in-office colleagues. This is great for businesses, especially SMBs. Companies can now source talent on a global scale, finding the best fit for their company culture and the individual role. No one has remote working completely figured out but knowing how to maintain and build your company culture in the remote age will give you an advantage above your competitors.

Please share your experiences, tips, and thoughts on remote working below! If you’re interested in reading more about topics related to small to medium size businesses, check out our community page here: https://community.sap.com/topics/smb

We are building a great community where those involved with SMBs can ask questions, find answers, and share their thoughts and ideas! Join the community today!

Questions related to small to medium size businesses? Don’t hesitate to ask anything (Directly related to SAP or not) here: https://answers.sap.com/tags/2521823005136277121291

 

P.S. My name is Justin and I’m the new SMB community advocate. You will probably be seeing a bit more of me in this community so don’t hesitate to connect and reach out, I’m always open for a discussion!

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      3 Comments
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      Author's profile photo Danielle Homer
      Danielle Homer

      Hey Justin, great piece! Your blog posts reminded me of the Future of Work cohort that was launched late last year by SAP.iO. There are a couple startups SAP is working with that are improving the employee experience. Check it out: https://sap.io/sap-kicks-off-sap-io-foundry-san-francisco-for-future-of-work-startups/ .

      Author's profile photo Justin Borders
      Justin Borders
      Blog Post Author

      Hi Danielle,

      Thank you for the comment! I checked out the link you posted and I think it's really amazing how SAP is supporting these startups. I'd definitely love to write some blogposts about it in the future if that's alright! Small and midsize businesses really need to stay ahead of the game when it comes to workplace innovations so I think this is super important to talk about.

      Author's profile photo Danielle Homer
      Danielle Homer

      I totally agree! It's more challenging for SME to innovate & get ahead but it's definitely possible and important. And yes! It would be great if you can help us highlight the cool stuff our startups are doing. When you have the bandwidth, feel free to put time on my calendar to discuss. Thanks!