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4 Ways to Build Company Culture While Working Remotely

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Remote worker on laptop (Image: Shutterstock)

Now that the financial services industry has adapted to the initial shock of the shift to remote work with entire teams being separated virtually overnight, company leaders are increasingly asking themselves how to address culture challenges moving forward: Will remote work, in some form, be the “new normal”? If so, how can we help employees remain productive while supporting a healthy work-life balance? How can we maintain our company culture while physically separated?

We know that the virtual workplace, in some form, is likely here to stay. Redtail’s Working Remotely 2020 advisor survey revealed that 74.3% of respondents did not experience an interruption of their revenue stream due to working from home (nearly 5% actually increased their revenue), and 64.7% of respondents stated they would be working from home at least once a week in the future. Additionally, 86% of respondents said they were somewhat to very prepared for a seamless transition because of technology already in place. 

But despite the quick adoption and readiness that firms displayed when shifting to work-from-home environments, there have been emotional drawbacks for those missing in-person meetings and conversations with co-workers. Almost half (43.5%) experienced social isolation or a disconnect from co-workers — while the majority of respondents (61.5%) said they do not use an internal communications platform, further limiting opportunities to keep in touch with colleagues. 

One sometimes-overlooked solution for addressing these culture and work-life balance concerns is further exploration and application of the technologies you’re already invested in or are considering. By making effective use of available technologies, industry leaders can maintain their company culture and combat social isolation, while empowering both productive and balanced work-from-home environments for their employees. Some of those technological approaches might include:

1. Seeking out opportunities for technology-enabled connections after hours.

Yes, one of the issues I’m raising here is how we help employees maintain a healthy work-life balance. That said, culture and camaraderie are often strengthened through after-hours activities as well, be it through shared volunteer events, happy hours or birthday celebrations.

At Redtail, since the pandemic began, we’ve hosted virtual meeting events for trivia and karaoke nights, pizza parties and holiday get-togethers. Using a mix of available technologies, we’ve given our employees the opportunity to “meet” outside of work and maintain connection with one another in a hundred different virtual ways. Attendance is in no way required, but it’s been exciting to see how many our employees choose to spend time together outside of regular working hours. 

2. Using your shared technologies to indicate individual availability.

Establishing norms for dedicated, uninterrupted project time or family time has presented one of the biggest challenges for advisors over the last year as the lines between personal and professional time have blurred. If a co-worker can’t see you at your desk working, gauging your availability at any given time becomes impossible without other cues.

Two technologies we use to provide those cues to one another at Redtail are (1) our shared Calendar in the CRM and (2) statuses on our internal messaging platform. On the Calendar, we can designate meetings, project deep work and private activities.

In terms of our internal messaging platform, we’ve created custom emojis for statuses that correspond with the realities of working from home, e.g., “virtual meeting,” “walking the dog,” “helping kids with online school.” We even have an emoji for “cat on keyboard.” As we navigate these work-from-home challenges together, it’s important we do so with both humor and understanding.

3. Using features on platforms you already subscribe to, but might not know about.

For example, Zoom recently updated its platform to include an internal chat feature to help teams stay connected without being on a video call. Contact your tech vendors and have them help you fully understand what services they offer before you buy anything new. 

4. Scheduling internal conversations with your CRM.

CRMs can be used to track internal as well as external engagements. Use your CRM to schedule check-ins with your employees so you can maintain a feel for both the health of your organizational culture and the mindset of individual employees. Similar to how you track client engagement, CRMs can provide the detail (and reminders!) you need to maintain consistency and a sense of connection with employee interactions.

These ideas are low-hanging fruit for company leaders looking to address the cultural challenges posed when managing a remote workforce. We know technology has helped firms succeed through this shift to remote work, and most likely you already have much of the technology at your fingertips to help your culture transfer as well. Exploring possibilities with your vendors can guide you through how to build a network that helps your team maintain company bonds while delivering results for clients. 2020 showed us how to account for uncertainty, but the virtual shift didn’t end there. In 2021, as client and business strategies seem to have adapted, it’s even more important to make sure your culture follows.


Brian McLaughlin is CEO of Redtail Technology.