A hybrid or remote work model places more pressure on building a remote culture. When all or most of your workforce is working from home, you can’t depend on the many subtle ways culture is conveyed when employees are working together in the same space. But with digital publications, you can create a vessel for the culture, giving employees a steady stream of concrete examples that bring your values, vision and employer brand to life. At Tribe, when we develop internal publications to showcase a company’s culture, we use a structured approach that we vary slightly to mirror the goals of the communication, the tone of the internal culture, or the desired cultural shift. (For more on using publications to help shape culture, try this Ragan article.)
Here are a few recommendations based on our approach:
1. DON’T GHOSTWRITE FOR LEADERSHIP
It’s usually quite obvious to employees that the CEO or other top executive didn’t write that blog or article. Of course, it’s typical corporate practice for the marketing, PR or communications staff to craft statements, press releases or other external documents, but it’s preferable to let internal communications be a bit more authentic. However, few top executives have the time to write a piece on their own, from start to finish, particularly on a monthly or quarterly deadline.
One of the best ways to keep it real but minimize the time requirement for your leadership is to start with an interview. Have that interview transcribed and then use it as the basis of an article with plenty of quotes from that leader. Or format the article as a Q&A piece. You’ll want to clean up the ums and uhs as well as any spoken grammatical errors, but keep it in the executive’s own words. Alternatively, you can videotape the executive interview and edit a short video to include in your digital publication.
2. INCLUDE REMOTE EMPLOYEES IN ALL REGIONS
Sometimes internal publications have a tendency to feature only the leadership of the company, more or less ignoring the people at lower ranks — even though those are exactly the people we’re trying to engage in the remote culture. Use your digital publication to bring visibility to people in various functions, levels and locations. When everyone is remote, it’s easier to level the playing field and include employees in far flung geographic locations.
Make it easier to include a range of remote employees with article formats that involve individual employees answering the same questions. Ask them to email their responses to questions, or give them a Microsoft form to complete. The topics of those questions can be anything related to the theme of your issue or an element of your culture, from their top three tips for Zoom meetings to their favorite memories of celebrating an upcoming holiday to what how they apply one of the values in their job.
3. DON’T PRETEND STOCK PHOTOS ARE YOUR EMPLOYEES
Shoot for authenticity in all aspects of your publication, including the visuals. One of our guidelines for photography at Tribe is to avoid using stock photos of models’ faces as stand-ins for actual employees. We do use stock photos for employee publications, but we tend to use visuals that aren’t specific to an individual. For instance we might choose a shot that shows the back of someone’s head working at a computer instead of one that includes a face. If it’s a wellness article about a step competition, we might use a shot of running feet instead of someone’s whole body, or of someone walking away from the camera instead of towards it. It’s a small difference, but to our minds an important one. Small visual cues make a difference in a remote culture, because employees aren’t seeing the culture occur in the office through in-person interactions.
Interested in building culture with your remote workforce? Tribe can help.