By Tracy Hill
How often do you hear a remote employee go on and on and on about how fabulous their company’s remote culture is? Almost never, right? I worked 100% remote for nearly two years, and, frankly, it felt like serving time.
That’s why I was gobsmacked to hear regional vice president Neal Lewis share the remote workforce experience at Livongo. Last week, Livongo hosted an HR leaders panel on “Engaging the Distributed Workforce” at the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA.
Neal kicked off the event, serving up a case study of how Livongo intentionally developed a strong culture for 231 field professionals across 37 states (and growing). That’s 40% of Livongo’s workforce!
As one of the ambassadors of what they refer to as their “Remotie Nation”, Neal was genuinely excited to share how they achieved success and how they continue to build on it. I’ll note here that their CEO Zane Burke is also a remote employee, so advocacy clearly starts at the top.
The Remote Worker Myth
For those who haven’t worked remotely, there’s a perception that you may not be putting in the same hours as an office worker. You’re either logging in from a beachfront destination with an umbrella drink in hand or binge-watching Netflix in your pajamas.
Far from it. The reality, according to a 2-year Stanford study, is there’s an astonishing productivity boost of working from home. The thing is, to maximize the results, employers need to put thoughtful structures and resources in place to support their remote people.
So, let’s look at how Livongo does it.
5 Practical Tips
When it comes to ensuring remote workers feel connected, Livongo demonstrates its commitment. And, to drive this success, there’s deep collaboration between Remotie ambassadors and the People Team.
1. It starts with onboarding.
The People Ops team sends a pre-onboarding welcome kit and assigns them a buddy. The kit includes everything they’ll need on day one: log in instructions, video conference instructions, and meetings are already added to their calendar. Right from the beginning, they know what to do.
2. Livongo views its Remotie Nation as an office.
Remoties are considered a distinct office—and they’re the biggest office. They’re part of the organization, just like their Chicago, Mountain View, or Denver office locations. And, every department is represented in their Remotie Nation, not just sales. When executives are on the road, they regularly block out time to meet with local Remoties. For lunch, for a walk-n-talk. The focus is on getting to know each other versus talking shop.
3. Remotie Nation has its own brand—and values.
Now, this is fun. Not only do they have a distinct Remotie Nation brand, they have a remote control mascot named Remongo. Annually, Remoties get a new Remongo t-shirt. As you can see, it’s pretty flippin’ adorable (pun intended).
Remoties not only embrace Livongo core values, they’ve expanded on them and created their own. They help each other thrive in a culture of caring and support.
4. They continually ask for feedback.
Livongo regularly surveys Remoties. One of the first questions they ask is, “How connected do you feel to the company?” They had 41% participation in their last survey; and, on a 1-5 scale, 77% reported 4 or 5. But they’re sensitive to the needs of the individual, too. Not every Remotie desires intense connection. And that’s cool. They also ask Remoties to “Describe your experience working as a Livongo Remotie compared to other companies.” And they don’t rest on their high ratings. They take a kaizen approach.
5. Frequent communications foster connection.
In all communications, remote workers are the first consideration. While frequent communication is seen as a way to excite and embrace remote workers, transparency is prioritized above all else.
Quarterly webcasts specifically for Remoties have a sliding start time to be fair to all time zones. New remoties are welcomed and their bios and interests are featured. And it’s common for Remoties to wear their Remongo t-shirts for these. Indeed, whenever video conferencing, people are encouraged to turn their cameras on to help them feel more connected.
Currently, they’re using HipChat for daily messaging. And, the chat rooms aren’t solely about work. They socialize, too. Like sharing videos of their travels, or meeting up in the “Friday Glass of Wine” room to toast the end of the week.
Building Your Own Remotie Nation
Engaging your remote workforce takes dedication, collaboration between HR and ambassadors, and a dose of creativity—but, as you can see, it doesn’t have to break your budget. Thank you for the inspiration Livongo and Neal Lewis!