A New Way To Work: Developing A Company Culture For A Remote World Here's how companies can take advantage of the new "virtual" company cultures, norms, and perks.

By Humaira Khan

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As the world is moving to remote, whether forcibly, or by choice, companies around the world are sharing their ideas on how to have a productive remote work culture.

Looking back at the (not so long ago) days when companies would offer incentives like ping-pong tables, gaming stations, and unlimited snacks as ways to lure new talent, we've now shifted to flexible work options.

Flexible work options can mean shorter work weeks, short work days, and more notably, working remotely. Here's how companies can take advantage of the new "virtual" company cultures, norms, and perks:

1. SELECTING THE RIGHT COLLABORATION TOOLS The first and seemingly most important tool that you need to look at when going remote are video conferencing tools. So far, the clear winners are Zoom and Google Hangouts. Although Google Hangouts seems to have a lot more features than Zoom, the choice so far among companies happens to be Zoom. Try one week on Google Hangouts, and one week on Zoom, and see which features suit your firm's needs.

The most popular chat tools include Slack, with WhatsApp groups picking up in trends. Tandem.chat is a virtual office for remote tools and worth taking a look at, which allows teams to see each other, and collaborate on all tools, together. Some companies like to manage their team tasks on tools like Trello, with Notion becoming the popular go-to.

Glitch.com, known for having an entirely remote team, has recently published popular tools and guides they have used to manage the world of remote. Some of the tools they list include apps that manage who is responsible for taking care of what during meetings, scheduling coffee breaks with different people on the team, and an app that lets you generate simple polls.

2. DEFINING SCHEDULES Creating a schedule that suits everyone's time zones will be the trickiest part. Whether a team member's hours start before or after yours, you'd have to allow their schedule to manage breaks in a way that does not force people to work outside of their required hours.

Popular trends have been to keep mandatory video meetings to once a week, with check-ins at the end of the individuals day through email or slack. With less face-to-face communication, frequent check-ins, however short they are, have been working with keeping people productive and timelines on target.

Related: Dubai Chamber: Strong Leadership And Regular Communication Essential For Ensuring Employee Wellbeing During The COVID-19 Crisis

3. TEAM THEMES Now that the basic structures are laid out, we can get to the fun stuff. Some companies are adopting virtual concepts that could probably work better for short-term enforced work-from-home time periods, but can still be created into long-term iterations that work best for your company. A company called Workboard based in California offered several potential concepts like weekly Zoom outfit contests, the founder recording daily "wins" videos, and sending weekly spring flowers to people's doorsteps.

Many company teams have been doing "best office space" or "Zoom background" contests. You can customize your Zoom backgrounds directly in the apps under account settings and upload your own images. While these contests may work for the short-term, or can be a monthly game to keep people engaged, there are other concepts that can spin out of this, such as companies offering a US$1,000 stipend for office set-up, which conveniently brings us to our next point.

4. REMOTE ONBOARDING KITS On a typical first-day, you walk to your desk, and you'd expect a fun welcome package from the company that includes company swag like t-shirts, hats, notebooks, or other items related to the company. But how do we welcome new remote hires? Some inspiration for delivered onboarding kits can include home swag like plants, custom slippers/robes, headsets, posters/backdrop, or using a certain service provider (there are a lot), that can create a branded online storefront, where remote employees can choose from an assortment of branded company swag with a dedicated budget.

5. SET GROUND RULES It will be hard to assess people's moods when you can't see them, and text-based chatting often gets lost in translation. The best fix I've found across different teams and companies are the use of emojis. Depending on what the context is, try to throw in some general smiling emojis, laughing faces, and others to keep communication friendly, since we're all tasked to reach goals, and open communication will be the single most important characteristic to the success of a team/company.

Now that the market identifies the future of work as being remote, new and existing companies are working on solutions that will make life and work more productive and normal. Expect some out-of-the-box solutions that will pop up in the next few years, making it the new standard for work like virtual reality boardrooms and offices. Soon, one could have meetings and walk around your office from the comfort of your home, with hologram teammates around you- your teammates, manager, or CEO can pop up in your living room to do a live presentation in hologram form.

There are many different ways that will become a new company culture norm for the future of work, and we're excited to see the world transition into a more flexible environment and open up borders for opportunities and talent from around the world.

Related: Going The Distance: Why Remote Working Is The Key To A Flexible Future

Humaira Khan

Founder, Walzay

Humaira Khan is the founder of Walzay, a decentralized talent marketplace using data to place top vetted tech and science talent at companies, with a focus on emerging markets and the future of work.

Humaira has a BBA in finance and has been in the tech world for over five years. She recently moved to the GCC by way of New York City being early-stage at several exited startups in the B2B SaaS and recruiting software space.

She started Walzay, a talent marketplace focused on remote work, with the vision of the global shift towards flexible work options. 

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