3 Ways to Nurture Community Among Remote Workers from Different Cultural Backgrounds

A multicultural group of employees can be a key factor in the success of a company. Such a team can provide varying perspectives to the problems and objectives of the company, which give rise to better solutions.

This is confirmed by Kristel Kruustük, founder of Testlio, who noted that research has shown that “ethnically diverse companies are…more likely to outperform the competition.”

Moreover, Deborah DeHaas, Vice Chairman and Chief Inclusion Officer of Deloitte, asserted that an inclusive company culture can be an important influence in a skilled person’s decision to work for and remain at a company. Deborah’s observation is corroborated by the results of a Deloitte study in which 72% of 1,300 full time workers in America stated that they would leave a company in search of one that had a more inclusive culture. And, as if that was not convincing enough, 25% of the study participants had already switched companies for the sake of inclusion. 

So the question should not be “what are the benefits of having a culturally diverse team?”, but rather “how does a company build a strong sense of belonging among this team, especially in 2021 when remote work has taken center stage?” 

To answer this question, we’ve discussed below three major ways a strong community can be fostered among remote employees from differing cultural backgrounds. 

1. Hold Online Diversity Workshops 

Before any attempts are made at nurturing a community, it is crucial to know how to go about this. This is where online diversity workshops come in. During these workshops, staff can learn how to interact with one another despite coming from dissimilar cultural backgrounds. Specifically, employees can be equipped with knowledge on effective communication methods, how to handle conflict, how to check unconscious bias and prejudices, and how to handle disagreements brought about by cultural differences, etc. Moreover, these workshops can inform staff members on actions and words that are offensive in each of the countries represented by the workers. In addition, these sessions are a great place for employees to share about their backgrounds and discuss ways in which fellow employees and the administration can show respect for their cultures. 

2. Organize Activities That Deepen the Understanding of and Appreciation for Different Cultures

Informal activities centered around cultural awareness are fun ways to build community, and they enable employees to grow in their knowledge of each other’s culture. Luckily, there are activities that can be executed online successfully. For example, there can be movie nights featuring movies selected by workers that shed light on the countries they identify with, games that teach the staff about each other’s cultures, roundtable discussions on current events happening in different countries, online volunteering opportunities that can be performed in groups, and even online group dinners in which meals native to a particular country can be delivered to each worker’s residence. For an even more meaningful experience, the dinner can include presentations from staff members on their countries, and how being a part of their individual countries and cultures influences their behaviors. 

3. Actively Seek Feedback 

Any attempt at community building that does not consider workers’ input would be futile. This is because the workers are the ones interacting with one another, and they have insight into their various cultural contexts. Thus, they, better than anyone, know how staff relationships can be strengthened. As Sekinah Brodie, Director of Partnerships at Penji, puts it: “many companies fail because team members feel undermined, ignored, and dismissed. When you better understand employees’ experience, you can effectively meet their needs… When you decide what type of culture you want, listening to your team will help to cultivate that.” 

Hence, one-on-one online meetings between workers and their supervisors should be scheduled. Some important topics that can be discussed during these meetings include actions during work that were disrespectful to someone’s culture, the person’s opinion on their experience working in the company, and suggestions for improvement. Besides one-on-ones, survey and polls can be given to the employees during larger meetings.

A team of remote workers from different countries can yield amazing benefits for a company. However, if a strong bond is not encouraged and maintained, the diversity can be a source of conflict and problem for any entity. This is why it is necessary for a company to actively promote community by organizing workshops, cultural events and activities, and receiving and considering employees’ feedback. Furthermore, companies need to be eager to navigate the intricacies that come with building such a community. Afterall, the other three methods won’t be effective if there is no genuine willingness to nurture a connection among the different workers. 

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