No matter how strong a business or its concept might be, it won’t thrive without a positive company culture. A team that is aligned on core values and purpose will not only help a company reach its fullest potential but will also be more likely to stay with the organization in the long term.
In the past, building culture amongst employees has been largely an in-person endeavor. However, as more and more businesses adopt a varied workforce of onsite, freelance and remote talent, leaders must become more creative in how they approach this task.
Below, the members of Forbes Business Council share 16 strategies for building a positive culture with both onsite and freelance talent.
1. Align Everyone With Organizational Values
Working remotely during the pandemic allowed organizations to reevaluate what really makes them tick. Leaders need to align all employees—onsite and freelance—with organizational values like honesty, transparency, kindness and trust. The culture is reinforced when we mindfully live and lead. – Edward Tuorinsky, DTS
2. Model Empathy
A culture built with the omission of empathy is veering away from positivity. Those that are focused on a framework of teams executing with a premise based on empathy model their actions for positive results. Research has shown empathy modeled may improve the actions of others to lend a positive culture. It shows compassion in actions to onsite and freelance talent that can be trusted. – Paul L. Gunn, KUOG Corporation
3. Schedule Team Activities And Meetings
Simply put, you have to make culture a consistent priority and it can be hard especially in a remote environment. I find scheduled quarterly team activities based on what the team actually considers fun and monthly meetings that combine full time and freelance talent focused on collaboration and the sharing of best practices make all the difference. – Muraly Srinarayanathas, Computek College
4. Get Creative With Communication And Collaboration
The ability to communicate and collaborate is essential. Technology becomes a key factor with the workforce being onsite, remote and freelance. This involves more than video meetings. Diverse ways to connect, collaborate, plan, engage and even laugh become vital to creating a positive culture for employee retention. – Natalie Barnes, Business Alliance Inc.
5. Be Transparent
Set a clear objective, define their roles and be transparent with them. Whether it’s a full-time employee or a freelancer, always be clear with your objective, share all the necessary information, do all paperwork and listen to them carefully. To maintain a positive culture, we have to have a good communication channel and appreciate their work when required so it will boost their confidence. – Sanket Shah, InVideo Innovation Pte Ltd.
6. Foster Connections
To believe in their work, be inspired and feel like they belong, employees must feel connected. Branded merchandise supports and elevates internal programs by providing a visual and tactile connection to your brand. Build important connections through recruitment and onboarding/inboarding programs, training and safety initiatives, health and wellness programs and annual service awards. – Valerie Hayman Sklar, Corporate Specialties LLC
7. Make Everyone Feel Appreciated And Valued
The key is in the business culture. From the CEO to service workers, making all feel appreciated and valued should come first. Inclusiveness should be reflected across the board and top to bottom. Freelance exceptions are expected to ensure we are not treating independent contractors as employees in an administrative sense. Use REAL—recognition, exceptional rewards, adequate attention and leverage with creativity. – Olivia Friedman, Institute of Higher Global Studies
8. Be A Cheerleader
As a leader, I lead by example. Show interest in their work and what they do and show action while talking to them. Show your team that you are willing and able to do the same tasks they do while smiling and showing respect for their role in the company. – Brandon Pena, 787 Coffee
9. Set Expectations For Success
Not micromanaging is a crucial component, but also setting the expectations for what success in the role looks like. I have always structured my team to deliver on accountability for results, giving them a longer period to get comfortable in their new role and then asking them to report their results each week. This way, they are empowered and safe to succeed and the culture thrives! – Lisa Laing , The Uncomplicate
10. Build Trust Through Consistency
The foundation of a positive culture is trust. The quickest way to build trust is through consistent actions, expectations and interactions. With hybrid teams, those efforts need to be more deliberate—and in some cases, more frequent—to help bridge the gap between in-office and remote team members. – Shannon Brooks, Shannon Brooks Consulting
11. Facilitate Collaboration, Equity And Inclusion
Whether your employees are working from home, the office or anywhere else, make sure they have a fairly consistent experience with the right tools to facilitate collaborative interactions, create equity and foster a feeling of inclusion. Leaders must also regularly communicate with transparency to encourage accountability and drive engagement between the onsite and freelance workforce. – Lalit Ahuja, ANSR
12. Focus On Outcome-Based Appraisals And Incentives
The main ingredient for this is psychological safety. We need to have a blameless postmortem. We need to have an outcome-based appraisal and the same incentive for the entire team. A cross-functional, self-organized and autonomous team is required to be responsible end-to-end for a value stream. Trust is not built in a day. As mentioned by Dr. Mik Kersten, we have to move from project to product teams. – Niladri Choudhuri, Xellentro Consulting Services LLP
13. Ensure Goals And Responsibilities Are Clear
Make sure goals and responsibilities are clear to everyone. Each company has its own set of values that make it unique. However, almost every company has the same issues. Make sure you remove pain points and let people help you identify company values. – Sergej Derzap, Amasty
14. Capitalize On Freelancers’ Specialized Expertise
When you require specialized expertise that is specifically tailored to a client requirement, turn to freelancers. The organization is building a stronger workforce, not eroding the spirit of the existing one, by seeking freelancers who can contribute to a specific project. – Beth Worthy, GMR Transcription Services, Inc
15. Establish A Culture That Resonates With Everyone
To keep remote and non-remote employees equally engaged, we should establish a company culture that resonates with everyone, independent of their work setup. Also, having offline and online social team events, remote team visits to the office, plans to protect our mental health and fight “screen fatigue”, cross-cultural interaction and emotional buddies are essential to building team trust. – Hanna Marie Asmussen, Localyze
16. Lean Into Synergy
Your business is your employees. Adopt practices that allow your team to find greater purpose and satisfaction at work. Provide fair benefits, skill-building opportunities and mentorship. Model your culture around ownership and accountability. You hired your teammates to enrich your company and they came to work for you because they believe in your mission. Lean into that synergy. – David Wagoner, P3 Media