During COVID-19, many businesses embraced remote work to keep employees safe. The experience yielded positive results for many organizations that now embrace a hybrid model—a combination of office and remote work.
Remote work allows professionals to function outside the traditional office environment. With the remote model, work can successfully be done from any location if you hire people with the right skills. This allows employees to design their days and fully experience both their professional and personal lives.
A common concern with remote work is the challenge with maintaining practice culture. While remote work reduces stress, boosts performance, and lowers greenhouse emissions, it can pose problems such as increased work pressure, anxiety, and harassment of employees. How does company culture play a role in successful remote work?
What is practice culture?
Practice culture measures the adherence and reinforcement of your values by team members. It includes the values, missions, employee behavior, attitudes, and habits. A practice’s culture indicates its health and growth potential. If a practice thrives, it will attract and retain talent, innovate, and accomplish its goals. Technology and tools enable practices to be efficient in remote settings, but building a culture in remote work requires intentionality. Therefore, you should focus on your culture and rely on the right tools for support.
Understanding the importance of practice culture in remote work
Workplace cultures are dynamic and based on values, norms, trends, and challenges. In remote work environments, practices may struggle to connect and instill values in their employees due to physical restrictions. Therefore, the focus should be on establishing a strong culture to make employees feel valued, connected, and appreciated. Building a strong culture is important for a practice looking forward to effectively leading and collaborating in a tech-driven world.
Tips for addressing the challenges of remote work culture
Defining your culture and expectations is key to a healthy remote work environment. With defined values, your team members will function per organizational standards despite their physical location. You can sustain your practice culture in a remote environment as follows.
Balance flexibility and structure
Remote work has enhanced employees' lives with flexibility, allowing them enough family and vacation planning time. These activities reduce stress, making employees more motivated and productive. Studies by Buffer, Google, and FlexJobs conclude that employees who value flexibility often experience advanced levels of productivity and joy in the remote work environment. However, unlike in a physical office setup, employees may fail to distinguish between work and life and can work long hours before realizing it.
While this contributes to productivity, it’s unhealthy and unsustainable. Managers can fix this problem by establishing work boundaries and structure with regard to work hours and shifts. Clarity on structure will help your team learn how to navigate the systems seamlessly and responsibly. Documenting your culture is also necessary, as you can always refer to your values for answers. Through documentation, the culture will remain strong into the future.
Remote work can be lonely and tiresome, and employees can lose track of their expectations. One of the ways a practice can keep its employees motivated is to remind them of the organizational mission, goals, and values. Communication is critical for remote business leaders as they don’t see their employees in person. With remote work, you should adjust communication while being careful not to over- or under-communicate. Over-communication can distract employees or make them feel micromanaged, while under-communication makes them feel isolated.
To ensure effective communication with your team, define your expectations and goals during all-team meetings. Also, communicate more often via phone or video conference than text messaging to ensure clear communication. You can also use the right tools and communication platforms to improve your engagement for a meaningful connection with your team.
Employee time and attendance tracking
Tracking employee time and attendance helps with accountability. A practice that wants to increase its profitability and track billable hours needs access to employee time and attendance tracking solutions. These tools help you know how employees use their time to meet their responsibilities.
Management can also use time tracking to improve productivity. Using monitoring software, they can collect time data and visualize it on the productivity board to gain workforce insights and identify areas where employees need support or training for better performance.
Monitoring your team’s productivity in remote work requires setting clear expectations, tracking the projects, and reviewing goals. To achieve this, you can take advantage of recurring team meetings that schedule and address hiccups and project management tools that let everyone view the tasks and progress in real-time.
Practice culture is critical in remote work, and while creating a strong culture can be challenging, you can embrace these ideas for overall efficiency. Leveraging software that allows team collaboration and communication is advisable. With the best remote practices, practice culture can grow and promote effectiveness.
This article originally appeared in DE Weekend, the newsletter that will elevate your Sunday mornings with practical and innovative practice management and clinical content from experts across the field. Subscribe here.