How to Create a Positive and Productive Remote Work Culture
At OmbuLabs, we love remote work. While other companies are asking employees to come back into the office, we are continuing to lean into the remote-first work culture that we had even before the pandemic. In this article, I will discuss the reasons why remote work is essential to the culture of our company. I will then outline how we create a culture that is both remote-friendly and productive.
Why do we work remotely?
Obviously, we cannot deny some benefits to working remotely, such as saving money on office costs. But there are other benefits of working remotely that are hard to replicate in an office. Here are a few reasons why OmbuLabs loves remote work:
To take advantage of talent. One of our company’s core values is talent is everywhere . Diverse hiring makes better teams, and what is the best way to ensure that we have diversity in our teams? By removing geographic restrictions.
Because we value personal autonomy. According to a Microsoft report, 85% of leaders have trouble believing that their employees are being productive when working a hybrid schedule. Workers do not need to be watched every moment. By trusting our employees, we allow them to do their best work.
To create a work-life balance. Humans spend enough time working already. Do we really need to spend 1-2 hours in traffic, to sit in an office for 8 hours a day? Skipping the commute, and fitting work around our schedule translates to a better work-life balance and more engaged workers.
To be more productive. What is better than being able to roll out of bed and start working? And working around illness and small kids, between running errands, allows us to focus fully while we are at work.
How do we create a remote-friendly culture?
As other companies have learned from the pandemic, you cannot just have your employees install Slack and Zoom on your computers and phones and declare yourself a remote company. To successfully function as a remote-friendly company, it’s important to think about how to mimic the real-world experience. How do you create an environment where team members can work together and share ideas? We use the same tools (Slack, Zoom, Slite) as everyone else. But what makes our culture different? We lean into those tools to recreate real-time communication.
One way we accomplish this is by coming together in real-time. Yes, that means we spend a lot of time in Slack and Zoom. ‘That sounds horrible!’, you may be thinking, but hear me out. On the surface, this sounds like we spend a lot of time in meetings. Which I guess is a problem if you think meetings have no value. But to capture the flow of ideas that only happens when you are in the same room? You need real-time communication.
To make it less like we are spending hours in countless Zoom meetings, we try to have fun during work hours. Some of the ways that we try to make it fun are:
- Setting time for the whole team to get together. At the end of our weekly staff meeting, we have an ‘OmbuBeer’. This is our time to play games with each other and chit-chat.
- Donut calls: this is our replacement for water cooler conversations. Every two weeks, we have a 30-minute - 1-hour call to chat with a different teammate about whatever we want.
How do we make remote work more productive?
Managers might not like remote work because it isn’t as easy to see who is “working hard”, since you can’t see people working. This is how we have overcome that issue:
- We have several policies in place to ensure everyone has the same expectations. We have an “officeless guide”, a document that outlines our expectations around communication. This includes having policies around being available, especially outside work hours.
- Since our team has members in several different time zones, we require our full-time staff to stick to a 4-hour overlap between EST. That ensures we can keep some degree of real time communication with each other.
- Time tracking policy: we have a strict time tracking policy that we make everyone sign. We require every team member to track at least 98% of their time in Noko, our timer app. This is super important for us, especially as a consultancy, since if we can’t bill our time accurately, we don’t get paid accurately.
Remote work is a valuable resource both to employers and employees. At OmbuLabs, remote work is essential to our culture, and enables us to carry out our core values as a company.