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Sol Spier, CEO and Creative Director, Dawning Digital

Why Should You Prioritize a Positive Work Culture for Remote Employees?

When you work with a remote team, your desks maybe thousands of miles apart, but your brainstorming and workflow processes need to be as closely connected as if you were in the same room. To access peak creativity, you need to genuinely know and appreciate the people you work with, and this can be achieved by creating and maintaining a positive work culture for your team. According to Forbes, “companies with winning organizational cultures have 72% higher employee engagement ratings than organizations with weak cultures.”

As the CEO and Creative Director of Dawning Digital, I know that the first step to creating a positive work culture is knowing and understanding my team. I know what all their pets are called, we have inside jokes, and they know they can talk to me about anything that’s bothering them. On a daily basis, we communicate over Zoom and Slack, but we can keep brainstorms sparking and ideas flowing with ease at the touch of a button. My team trusts me, and I trust them, which enables us to take our workflow to new productivity levels.

A team member who feels heard will continue to contribute enthusiastically to discussions, and a positive work culture ensures that. Would you like to know why a positive work culture for remote workers is so essential? Would you like to find the methods I use to encourage a healthy working environment and team cohesion? Just read on, and we’ll have you looking forward to your team meetings in no time!

Why is positive work culture so important for remote teams?

A positive work culture is a glue that holds your remote team together. When your team feels like they can express themselves freely, be praised for excellent work, and make mistakes without being berated, their morale and productivity increase proportionately. When you stop reducing your remote team to worker bees at screens and start to connect with the creatives in your employ, the real magic starts. A team driven by deadlines rather than passion won’t choose to go above and beyond to innovate with their ideas. Instead, they’ll do the bare minimum to make sure they finish their tasks. However, when your team can look at one another every day and think, “I don’t want to disappoint these people,” or “I want to excel at the same level that my colleagues do,” or “these people are giving their all, so I should give mine,” you’re handling work culture the right way! Shifting focus from profit to creating valuable, collaborative progress will always change your business’s output for the better. Remember: your monthly turnover is a number you can steadily increase, but you absolutely cannot buy motivation.

What are the challenges of remote teamwork and establishing a work culture? 

Let’s say someone takes you to a sports game. You’re probably not going to cheer very loudly if you don’t know the teams you’re watching. If, however, you’re a fan of one of the teams playing, you’ll be up out of your seat, shouting and yelling and enthusiastically cheering on your faves! The same principle applies to being part of a workplace team. The difference between indifferent and enthusiastic performance lies in one’s affection towards the goal or organization. If your team believes that they want your company to win, they’re going to do their best to carry your business over the finish line. You can foster this affection by creating a positive work culture, and you’ll reap the rewards of motivated productivity in return.

This is especially important in remote workplaces. When everyone’s primary point of contact is a computer screen, you lose the easy camaraderie you’d get in a shared office space. There’s no group lunch break, water cooler chats, or office Christmas party where your team can feel the human component of their workplace. Digital interfaces also mean it’s challenging to communicate empathy and compassion with your team. No matter how well you draft a memo, it won’t have the same effect as an in-person conversation, so you need to be considered in the way you address your team to avoid coming across as insensitive or intimidating.

How do I create a positive work culture for my remote team?

So how did we achieve this? How did a team that’s so geographically far apart manage to become so tightly knit and produce work that shows it? Well, I like to attribute that to our work culture, which I’ve carefully constructed around honesty, flexibility, and authenticity.

Communication is the first avenue that I focus on when working with the Dawning Digital team. We don’t enforce any correspondence hierarchies from the start of a team member’s journey, so they are encouraged to message me and any other team members with any questions they might have, no matter how small they may seem. This open communication extends to our team calls, which we have three times a week. The whole team is given equal opportunities to share their progress, personal wins, and questions. We share our multidisciplinary tasks to get ideas from different perspectives, making every team member feel heard.

Another significant aspect of the way our team operates is compassion. I offer my team members unlimited leave days, with an enforced mandatory five days off quarterly. When it comes to compassionate leave, I allow my team to resume work when they feel ready and don’t set tight timelines for grief and healing. If a team member has an appointment or needs to take care of something during work hours, I don’t micromanage their time as long as they complete their tasks. If they feel overwhelmed by tasks or can’t complete something, I encourage them to reach out to reshuffle their schedule. Some business owners may ask, “well, aren’t you putting yourself at risk of being taken advantage of?” And I’d say quite the opposite! When you show somebody that you respect them as an adult with human needs and let them know that you trust them, they’ll return the same level of respect and trust back to you. Allowing remote workers to fuel internal motivation builds a far happier environment than ruling with an iron fist.

The last and most fun aspect of the Dawning Digital workplace that I like to make space for is engaging team-building activities! Getting my team together during work hours with an objective other than work builds a rapport that motivates us all to do our best for our colleagues. Some of the team building we’ve done includes quizzes, pizza days, gin tastings, Valentine’s dress-ups, and show-and-tell, which all took place over Zoom! Creativity is a vulnerable space in which one risks being poorly received to pitch new ideas. If you’re comfortable with your team, you’re much more likely to offer high-risk/high-reward pitches that win you new clients!

A positive work culture is one that supports each team member’s success. I don’t want to succeed because of my team. I want my team to succeed alongside me. Dawning Digital’s people-first, profit-later approach to running a remote business has created a team of trustworthy, connected, and enthusiastic professionals who share one primary motivation: to work together to the best of our ability and create work we’re proud of!

About the Author:

A digital marketer, content creator and traveler, Sol Spier is the CEO and Creative Director of Dawning Digital. What started as Sol claiming her time and choosing to use her marketing talents in a non-traditional way has led to forming the Dawning Digital team.