Great companies don’t become great by accident.
Their success is built on long-term visions, well-defined strategies, and, most importantly, competent teams with strong work ethics.
Remembering this is crucial, especially with the rise of remote work culture where employees work from different locations and time zones and rarely get to meet each other in person.
A passionate founder, a strong vision, and a great product would only take you so far without a professional team dedicated to turning your vision into a reality.
In this article, I’ll share how companies with remote and distributed teams can build a strong work ethic and how videos and async communication can play a crucial part in it.
What Are Work Ethics
Work ethics are principles of how professionals should conduct themselves while working for an organization. Think of them as individual personality traits that ultimately determine a person’s approach toward work, colleagues, and life in general.
Work ethics include qualities such as discipline, punctuality, integrity, communication, etc., that turn a talented individual into a professional that employers can rely on. They’re the small things a person does every day that not only define their personalities but also determine their success or failure.
In his best-selling book, Atomic Habits, James Clear recalls an interesting conversation with an athletics coach about the common traits of the most successful athletes.
He mentioned the factors you might expect: genetics, luck, talent. But then he said something I wasn’t expecting: “At some point, it comes down to who can handle the boredom of training every day, doing the same lifts over and over and over.” His answer surprised me because it’s a different way of thinking about work ethic.
Work ethics are about consistently doing what you’re supposed to do. Show up on time, be reliable, be approachable, meet deadlines, and communicate clearly, plus all the other right things your organization expects from you.
When your team consists of employees with a strong work ethic, it reflects in your organizational culture, employee motivation levels, and ultimately, your business results.
On the contrary, employees with bad work ethics such as procrastination, pessimism, passiveness, and negativity can adversely affect your team’s performance.
For example, research shows that 46% of employees prefer working alone and feel less productive when working in a team.
In a remote team where collaboration and teamwork are critical, such employees could drastically reduce productivity.
Why Are Work Ethics Important For Remote Teams?
Remote employment is nothing new. But it has become much more mainstream since Covid-19. As a result, numerous companies have adopted a remote-first policy where they only hire in-house employees when remote employment isn’t possible.
Personally, I love being able to work from anywhere in the world. The freedom of remote employment has had a refreshing impact on my mindset, and I’ve started enjoying work much more than before.
And I’m not alone.
Research shows that 77% of employees feel more productive when working remotely and believe their life quality has improved since going remote.
However, remote employment only works well when you have a team with strong work ethics and systems that simplify collaboration and teamwork.
With in-house employees, you can get a lot done through various management practices, personally communicating, and creating a generally competitive environment.
But in a remote setup, a lot depends on your team’s work ethics.
If they don’t show up on time, miss deadlines, or aren’t as motivated as you want, there’s little you can do about it.
Here are a few reasons why strong work ethics are critical to a remote team’s performance.
1. Improves Communication
Clear and timely communication is critical in a remote work environment. There’s little scope for body language, and everything needs to be said clearly to avoid confusion and get things done. Employees with solid work ethics understand the importance of accurate, timely, and professional communication. They know how to document processes, engage relevant stakeholders, provide timely project updates, and ask for help when required.
2. Increases Productivity
Productivity is a direct result of a strong work ethic. When your team respects the rules, shows up on time, meets deadlines, and does what’s expected from it, great things happen. This is especially true for remote teams. Without a strong work ethic, your remote employees can quickly lose motivation, get distracted, and go into passive mode resulting in a loss of productivity.
3. Builds A Team Culture
Teams with solid work ethics collaborate more effectively and get things done faster. They work as different pieces of a puzzle, working together to complete the picture. Every team member does their part of the job on time and delivers the required quality of work. If a team member lags behind, others help them out and achieve their goals together.
4. Reduces Employees Turnover
According to research, companies that offer remote work experience 25% less turnover. But that only tells you half the story. While turnover from a remote company to a conventional in-house setup is less likely, remote employees still frequently switch to other remote companies. However, a company’s culture and work ethic is often the deciding factor that persuades employees not to leave. This happens because some organizations handle remote teams better than others. They manage to develop a remote work culture where everyone understands their responsibilities and gets things done despite being in different locations.
5. Creates More Leaders
Employees with a strong work ethic generally do well in their careers and make it to leadership positions faster. This makes total sense because every company wants dedicated, professional, motivated, and reliable leaders. Employees with such traits not only grow themselves but also become an inspiration for their peers.
What Makes A Strong Work Ethic?
We’ve talked a lot about solid work ethics in this post. But what are the building blocks of strong work ethics? What qualities does an employee or a team of professionals need to have to create a culture of strong work ethics?
Let’s discuss some of the integral components of a strong work ethic.
1. Reliability And Discipline
Reliability, responsibility, and discipline are the foundations of a strong work ethic. Employees with these qualities own their work, get things done on time, and never make excuses. They’re reliable individuals with a consistent track and employers can trust them with their most critical projects. They’re disciplined, respect the rules, and set good examples for their peers.
2. Hardwork And Dedication
Dedicated individuals don’t give up easily. They believe in hard work and don’t lose motivation in tough situations. These qualities are critical to a strong work ethic because without them even the most talented individuals fail to achieve anything significant.
3. Honesty And Integrity
Honesty and integrity are mandatory parts of a good work ethic. A person with integrity has a strong moral compass and their decisions are ethically balanced. Employers value honest individuals and can rely on them to handle sensitive business operations.
Collaboration and teamwork are critical to an organization’s success. This is why companies look for people who’re comfortable working in teams and across functions. Employees with strong collaborative skills know how to handle conflicts within teams and care more about achieving their collective goals than taking credit.
An optimist always sees opportunities even in difficult situations, stays motivated, and never gives up. Optimism is contagious and even a single optimist can change the mindset of a team. This is why organizations value this quality and look to hire people with a positive outlook on life and work. Optimists are not complainers. Instead of whining all the time, they make the best of their available resources and do whatever they can.
Clear communication is among the most valuable qualities of people with a strong work ethic. They know how to engage with their team mates, seniors, and junior employees in a respectful but professional manner. They’re good listeners with excellent requirement gathering skills and know how to ask the right questions. In addition, they understand the importance of keeping the key stakeholders of every project updated with the latest progress. Overall, communication is the pillar of a good work ethic and is critical to an employees success in the long run.
Professionals know they have a commitment to their organization to offer their best services at work. They do not let their personal circumstances affect their performance and ensure that they meet the employer’s expectation even on their low days. Employees with a strong work ethic
What Are Bad Work Ethics?
We’ve talked about good work ethics so far. But what are the bad work ethics that destroy an organization’s culture and hold even the most talented people back?
Let’s quickly discuss.
Procrastination is a deadly personality trait that robs even the most talented people of success. It is a general tendency to delay things unnecessarily and do them at the last moment. Procrastinators are not only unproductive themselves but also become a source of frustration and inefficiency for their teams.
2. Lack of self-discipline
Not following the rules and breaking protocols are strong indicators of a poor work ethic. Undisciplined employees are hard to manage and are a constant source of inconvenience for their teammates. They’re a liability to their employers and often add to their problems. This is why most organizations have zero tolerance for such individuals.
A pessimist always sees the glass half empty. They see problems in opportunities and hurdles in every path. Their negativity impacts their team’s morale and frustrates their employers. Like optimism, pessimism is also contagious. If a pessimist remains in an organization long enough, they spread demotivation, ingratitude, and a general feeling of helplessness among other employees.
4. Lack of commitment
Lack of commitment is among the most glaring indicators of a poor work ethic. Employees who do not honor their word not only test their colleagues’ patience but also cause mistrust between departments and functions.
Irresponsible employees randomly skip work, rarely reach on time, and often take things too lightly. Their attitude frustrates their team memes and hurts the overall productivity of their employers.
Bringing personal issues to work, being rude to colleagues, and not taking the job seriously are red flags when it comes to work ethics. Such employees become a burden on their employers, damage the work environment, and reduce productivity.
9 Tips To Instill Strong Work Ethics Using Video
A strong work ethic isn’t a god-gifted ability that a common individual cannot learn. You can instill good work ethics in your team using various strategies and modern communication mediums, video in particular.
In this section, I’ll share different ways you can help your employees develop a strong work ethic and how using video content can make your job easier.
Define Rules And Set Clear Expectations
You might not realize this at first, but there’s a direct connection between clear and measurable goals and employee performance, motivation, and work ethics.
According to the University of Massachusetts, setting clear goals and expectations before a project or responsibility makes employees feel more connected to the organization and provides them the necessary context to perform a task effectively.
As an employer, you can significantly improve your team’s work ethic by outlining your expectations and setting SMART goals.
Here’s what SMART goals mean.
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Achievable
R - Relevant
T - Time-Bound
This is where video recordings can be a real game-changer for remote teams. Forget setting goals the old way by sharing a Spreadsheet, communicating via email, or doing an unstructured Zoom call.
Instead, record a personalized Loom video for each goal, explaining it in detail with the necessary context, deadlines, and any other relevant details.
This would become a permanent reference and motivation source for the employee, and they’d be able to go back to it whenever they need guidance.
Default To Async Over Sync Communication
Switching your regular communication from sync to async mediums can drastically improve your remote team’s productivity, efficiency, and overall engagement.
Instead of calling in employees for unproductive video calls or communicating via chat rooms, share critical updates, announcements, and other work-related messages using screen recordings.
This has several benefits:
Your remote team members can view your messages in their respective time zones.
No one from your team feels left out because of missing a live call.
Employees feel encouraged to respond via video recordings and share their thoughts on important business decisions.
You significantly reduce meeting time, get more time for the work that matters, and unnecessarily long calls that kill productivity.
This is exactly how Metalab increased its efficiency and productivity. By switching most of its business communication to Loom, it saved around 8 hours per week in meetings and increased productivity by 20%.
As a result, its employees had more time to focus on client work which helped them increase their average daily billing to over $2000 per designer.
Respect Your Colleagues’ Time
In remote work culture most team members reside in different countries and work in different time zones. This is why it's crucial for everyone in the team, including the managers and employers, to respect each other’s time.
One of the charms of remote employment is that the workers usually create their schedules independently and organize work to their convenience. This keeps them motivated and allows them to perform to their full potential.
Using video recordings as your primary communication mode for regular updates allows you to collaborate with your team without taking away the benefits of remote from them.
They don’t need to get on a call or chat in the middle of the night just to update you on a project or take instructions on a new assignment. Instead, all of this can be done through async communication.
This promotes a healthy work culture where everyone respects each other’s time and engages them at their convenience without compromising work quality.
Mentor And Teach Your Employees
One of the most important jobs of a company and its leadership is to provide mentorship and on job training to its employees. It is your job to educate your team on the significance of a strong work ethic.
Tell them why it's important, show them examples, share case studies, and help them become better professionals. Once again, this is where you can use screen recordings to great effect.
You can create training content for your employees, focus on specific skills, teach them interpersonal communication, or create a series of onboarding videos to help new hires understand the company’s culture and the importance of a strong work ethic.
You can do that as a founder for each department of your company. Similarly, your managers can do it for their respective teams.
You only need to create this content once and add it to your internal library from where HR and other relevant stakeholders can pick it up every time there’s a need.
This is exactly how Postclick created a more cohesive team and a unified culture where everyone worked for the same goal.
It used Loom’s video recordings across the employee hiring and onboarding processes. In fact, it went a step further and encouraged mass adoption of Loom across the company for all communication, especially training and development.
As a result, Postclick was able to communicate its core values to new hires, train the existing employees in various skills, and improved its overall employee engagement.
Lead By Example
You can’t build a strong work ethic in your team if you don’t have a good work ethic yourself. As a founder, you must, along with your leadership team, lead by example.
Show your employees that you value punctuality, good communication, hard work, and dedication. If you or your managers skip work regularly, don’t care about deadlines, or don’t keep a professional demeanor, you can’t expect your teams to have a good work ethic.
Once again, video recordings can play a vital role in setting a good example for your remote team.
Use async communication, respect your colleagues’ time, and actively engage in learning and development as we’ve discussed in the points above.
But beyond that, demonstrate professionalism in your communication with your remote team, show dedication to work, and appreciate and reward employees with a strong work ethic.
Show Empathy Toward Your Employees
Working remotely has lots of benefits and advantages for businesses and employees. However, it also comes with challenges and sometimes your team needs your support to overcome them.
This is why showing empathy toward your team, understanding their problems, and helping them out is among your core responsibilities as a remote leader.
How does video help in this case?
Suppose a team member is having a hard time performing a job, writing a piece of code, developing a design, or any task. Or they’re unable to understand your instructions clearly.
In both cases, you can create short & quick Loom recordings that show (not just tell) your team member how to do something. Go the extra mile in explaining your perspective, and show them how it's done.
Regularly Share Feedback
Feedback is critical to your employees’ professional growth.
As a remote team leader, you can use monthly or quarterly video recordings to give your team members honest feedback on their work ethics and their strengths & weaknesses.
Why video recordings?
Because, unlike live video, the recordings become a part of your employees content library that they can refer to anytime they want. Plus, with recordings, they get the time to think about your feedback and respond with an open mind. On a live call, employees can easily feel overwhelmed or insecure and react awkwardly.
So, make feedback a constant part of your leadership style. And not just one way feedback. Encourage employees to share their feedback on your management style whenever they feel the need.
This improves the overall culture of your company and helps in developing better work ethics across your organization.
Improving Work Ethics Is A Continuous Process
You never reach a point where you say you don’t need to improve your work ethics. There’s always room for improvement because as professionals we encounter new problems and challenges everyday. How we respond to those challenges largely depends on our work ethics. Remember, it’s the small things that we do everyday that determine our success or failure.