Ask any successful founder the reason for her success and she’ll likely tell you it was because she focused on building a strong company culture from the start. And while it’s never easy to instill this form of shared ethos in any company, it is definitely more challenging to build a remote work culture.
How does company culture translate to culture in a remote team? And what are some ways leaders of remote companies can build and maintain strong company culture?
What is Remote Company Culture?
Company culture is defined as the cultural norms of the company that states what is accepted, rejected, encouraged, and discouraged within the company.
When correctly aligned with the personal needs and values of employees, culture can help achieve company goals.
Building and maintaining a remote company culture has its own set of unique challenges. However, this does not mean that it is impossible.
After all, culture is a feeling of connection co-workers experience when they’re bonded by similar priorities, interests, and attitudes. This feeling of connection can survive even when people don’t see each other on a regular basis.
A systematic approach to building a remote work culture focuses on building and solidifying these connections amongst team members. This is essentially a digital culture which enables employees to stay connected through shared experiences, interests, and priorities. A strong remote work culture gives employees a sense of belonging that transcends physical boundaries.
Why is remote work culture important?
While pay or benefits are important for employees, a positive day-to-day experience is the key to retention.
By building a remote company culture that prioritizes your employees, you can increase engagement levels and alignment. And when employee morale is high, you can better attract and retain top talent who can drive valuable outcomes.
To become an employer of choice, prioritize creating a strong culture that’s built with remote and hybrid employees in mind.
Such a culture will help:
1. Eliminate isolation among employees
25% of employees say they feel lonely when they work remotely.
A strong and consistent remote work culture can give them a shared sense of purpose and unite employees.
It also instills a feeling of camaraderie and directly leads to real actions like casual check-ins and more informal conversations between colleagues. This helps employees who might otherwise feel isolated when working from home.
2. Build long-term relationships between employees
The right remote work culture is a win for your organization. Even if you eventually decide to embrace onsite work and ask employees to come back to the office!
After all, a strong remote work culture is just a strong company culture.
When you strengthen team bonds among employees who work in different locations, it directly translates into better relationships, improved trust, and enhanced communication.
This makes it easier for remote employees to communicate and connect with their in-office counterparts (in the case of hybrid work). And also makes for a smoother transition back to office work (if that is your eventual decision).
3. Help a company prepare for the future
Remote work is steadily becoming the new normal. Plenty of companies are now planning to keep part of their workforce remote even after the pandemic is over.
Organizations with strong cultures will be able to move past the growing pains of shifting to a whole new work model and maintain consistent efficiency and productivity.
Creating culture in remote teams
There are many different ways to go about building remote work culture. Here are a few ways to ensure your employees always have a strong sense of the company’s values:
1. Create an environment of trust
To create a healthy remote work company culture, it’s important to communicate all high-level decisions with your team.
This shows employees that you trust them completely to know what’s going on, even when they work remotely. Since trust is a two-way street, your employees will only trust you when you trust them.
Another way to show trust is to focus on the output of your team, instead of tracking the amount of time they spend online.
When you avoid the temptation to micromanage, you give employees the space to manage their work. People tend to work better when they are given responsibility and a minimal amount of stress is put on them.
Giving freedom in everyday tasks gives employees the space to breathe and a sense of independence in their job. When you create an environment of trust with your employees, they tend to be more productive in return.
2. Create (and live) your company value statement
Each company should have a company value statement that outlines what their beliefs and values are.
This sets the standards of what is expected in a person when they join the company, and also standardizes the culture that employees will be working in.
Creating an optimum and high-performing remote work culture becomes easier when everyone in your organization understands the mission and goals you are trying to achieve.
It’s important to find a concise and clear way of describing the company’s mission and the overall goals that the company is trying to achieve.
It can work as a constant reminder for employees to always know what they are trying to accomplish while working together.
3. Have a buddy system for new joiners
With every new hire, make an effort to assign an onboarding buddy who can help them with questions about their role, specific processes or the company in general.
Having a go-to colleague who isn’t their manager both relieves pressure and provides new joiners with a friendly face right from the start. New hires can assimilate into their roles and tasks easily, without constantly worrying if they are on the right track.
One thing to bear in mind is that the buddy should be someone with a similar role and willing to help another colleague out. The last thing a new hire needs is a grumpy buddy who did not want to take on the role in the first place, or someone who is always uncontactable in their time of need.
4. Hold events, in person if possible
Even if your team is mostly working from home, or spread across a few countries, you can still host in-person events.
Colleagues within the same city can meet up to celebrate small wins, or celebrate festivities.
In-person informal meetings between employees can help start and strengthen the friendship between colleagues.
They are also a great way to embed the company values and bring on a sense of camaraderie outside of the working environment.
5. Leverage on employee feedback
To continuously improve on company culture, organizations need to leverage employee feedback.
Asking for employee feedback on a frequent basis is key to ensuring you know what’s working and what isn’t. Employee surveys can be structured to give you insight into how your employees are doing and what can be improved on.
Effective Tools for Building Culture
Tools are a great resource that can be used for building culture. Below are a few effective tools.
Monday.com is a remote collaboration tool that is designed to help employees get and share information efficiently.
The interactive interface gives updated information and visibility, and hence reduces time wasted on emails and messages.
Monday.com is one of the best known and highly rated collaboration software, so be sure to check out its free trial.
An extremely popular tool used by many companies, Slack takes communication and collaboration to the next level.
The ease of communication between employees throughout the organization is brilliant, as it allows you to just send a hi to anyone in the company.
Slack can also significantly reduce the time teams spend writing emails and attending meetings that could be transitioned into Slack channel formats
We can’t help but toot our own horn here.
Esevel is a global equipment provisioning platform that allows you to equip your remote team at a click, wherever they are based.
Onboarding is one of the most important times of an employee’s experience, and Esevel makes sure this is carried out smoothly.
From laptops to monitors to swag, this remote work platform makes it supremely easy to procure, set up, and manage assets for your team members.
And here are other effective tools that can be used to strengthen company culture.
Building a remote company culture is an ongoing process that requires discipline and determination to be done well. But it’s well worth the effort.
To truly give their best to their companies, employees need to understand the shared mission and ethos, and live it on a daily basis. And there’s no better way to do that than via a strong remote culture.