Perseverance, generosity, passion—the values that your company promotes matter. A strong work culture can mean better communication, happier employees, and better solutions to whatever challenge is at hand.
But how can you build a vibrant work culture when your team is working remotely?
The challenges of managing remote employees and remote onboarding new employees has posed many challenges for companies across the board. Don’t let distance destroy your workplace culture and employee morale. This article will explore a myriad of ways for you to implement a remote work culture that can thrive even if your entire team is spread out around the world. From building personal connections to holding virtual meetings, read on for the best ways to build a healthy remote company culture.
Retool Your Onboarding
When bringing someone new to your remote company, it’s important to describe your corporate culture early on. If your onboarding process still assumes the in-person office experience will help candidates absorb your organizational norms, it’s essential to reevaluate your procedures and modernize your onboarding. Check out the ultimate guide for onboarding remote employees.
Consider the following onboarding options to lay the groundwork of your work culture from day one:
- Group onboarding – While position details, financial packages, and benefits should be dealt with one-on-one, much of the onboarding process can be done in a remote group setting. New team members can chat and get to know each other, establishing a communicative work culture from the outset. Plus, group onboarding means less redundant instruction for hiring managers and a faster process overall.
- Team-ups – To introduce your new employees to your company culture, consider pairing each new hire with an experienced team member. By bridging the gap between different experience levels, you can create a natural flow of information and ideas.
- Plan ahead – The onboarding process can take significant time, so consider laying out a multi-week plan on the first day. This can reduce stress as new remote team members acclimate to the company culture and provide plenty of time for questions and comments from your new staff.
Since the onboarding process is mostly geared at new hires, it could be worthwhile to design a parallel ‘refresher’ course for current team members to cover the new aspects of corporate culture. Better yet, your team could work together to develop the onboarding materials, creating a learning opportunity for everyone involved.
Employees may be alone at their desks, but they can still interface directly with their distributed team. One of the best ways to reinforce a strong work culture is through collaboration. Whether team members are co-running an event or exchanging ideas about a new project, collaboration brings everyone together.
If you’re looking for more ways for your remote employees to collaborate, consider exploring the following options:
- Open brainstorming – Looking for the next great product? Curious about alternate business models? Working on a revolutionary new marketing strategy? Let your whole team share their thoughts about your next big move. Create a digital space for team members to brainstorm, and you may discover new avenues to success.
- Synchronism systems – Ensure your team has the tools they need to work together. All network resources, servers, and software should be easily accessible. In addition, consider investigating more ways for team members to work simultaneously on a project, such as with a whiteboarding session.
- Diverse teams – When organizing employees around specific projects, try pairing employees with distinct skills together. Someone known for their clarity of thought might pair well with someone known for their speed, while a more theoretical thinker could be matched with someone more hands-on. Consider all your pairing options to create amazing collaborative opportunities.
Through purposeful remote collaboration, your remote workplace can feel even more connected than you would in one building. Proximity doesn’t necessarily correlate to connection. Instead, focus on curating new ways for your team to combine their skills to forge something better than the sum of its parts.
At one time, in-office meetings were a fundamental part of company culture. That said, they may not have always been productive.
As you embrace remote work, rethink the purpose and goals for team meetings. When planning your next remote meeting, take the following steps:
- Make it video – It’s never been easier to arrange a conference call, but the benefits of seeing faces (even if they’re in small digital boxes) can’t be understated. By allowing for some digital face-to-face time, you can further the connections between your team, encourage more personalized participation, and enjoy more lively meetings.
- Assign talking points – Make sure everyone in the meeting has something to contribute. By assigning talking points prior to the meeting, you can give team members specific opportunities to share their current projects or challenges. You’ll avoid meeting fatigue by giving more purpose to each employee.
- Keep things small – An all-staff meeting may be necessary from time to time, but consider making your meetings a more intimate affair. Keeping the number of participants down to 4 or 5 can make for a more focused exchange, with fewer opportunities to get distracted or go off track.
- Follow up – Send out a post-meeting survey, a quick thank you, or some pointed follow-up questions. All meeting participants should feel like their presence was essential.
Create Shared Goals
When a company culture is lacking, employees may feel disconnected from the greater organizational mission. While financial success is an essential part of every business, employees aren’t always motivated by raw numbers.
To encourage a stronger work culture, create f non-financial goals that your staff can strive toward collectively.
When crafting your shared company goals, try to take the following aspects into account:
- Something for everyone – Focus on creating goals that everyone can get behind. Whether you’re looking to diversify your client roster, retool your products, or give a major overhaul to a department, look for a challenge that appeals to your whole team.
- Ask for feedback – While working toward shared goals, it’s important to track your progress and get a read on how your team feels about it. Send out regular calls for feedback and offer up opportunities to provide anonymous, constructive critiques. Sometimes the most valuable thing is an honest opinion.
- Celebrate the victories – It takes time to accomplish big goals, so celebrate the victories along the way. Specifically, let each and every team member know that their efforts are recognized and appreciated. Bonuses are always appreciated, too.
Prioritize Casual Communication
There’s no doubt that the cornerstone of building a strong remote work culture is communication. That said, communication doesn’t always mean talking about work. Through digital tools, you can create spaces dedicated to office small talk.
When designing new ways to encourage conversation, consider the following options:
- Non-work chat channels – Give your team a place to talk about their cats, last night’s game, or their personal accomplishments outside of work, all from the comfort of home. Think of it as the water cooler for the 21st-century office—a place employees can gather and converse about whatever is on their minds.
- All-staff emails – Cultivate a culture your whole team can be proud of with your all-staff emails. Too often these mass bulletins are impersonal or even impolite. Take charge of your big emails to reflect your pride for your staff, your aspirations for the future, and the work culture and company values you’re building remotely.
By encouraging personal, polite communications, you can cultivate a true remote work culture that goes beyond daily tasks. This is the place you and your team spend their days; make it a place everyone can be proud of.
Build Opportunities for Fun
Sometimes the best way to build a strong remote work culture is to turn work into play.
We’re not advocating that you turn the average workday into a nonproductive hangout. Instead, create opportunities to get your team together for non-work-related events that break from the daily and weekly expectations. A little bit of fun never hurt anyone.
If you’re looking for some fun ways to get your office together virtually, consider the following options:
- Holiday party – Embrace the seasonal fun by hosting holiday parties. You can invite your staff to a virtual space and encourage costumes or homemade recipe sharing. This is an opportunity for your team to get a little personal and socialize freely.
- Friday happy hours – If your staff is interested in craft cocktails, local brews, or even kombucha, consider hosting a weekly virtual happy hour. After a productive week, your team members can kick back at their computers for an hour or two of beverages and casual chit-chat.
- Virtual team building – Invite your office to an afternoon of team-building games and exercises. Anything from online bingo to team trivia can offer an amusing way to strengthen team bonds and add a flash of fun to your office culture.
Teamflow: Your Partner in Building Remote Work Culture
With a plethora of options for building a strong remote work culture, you’re probably eager to start implementing a few of these time-tested strategies. Before you begin planning your next remote meetup, visit Teamflow.
At Teamflow, we know work culture is important. That’s why we’ve designed the digital tools your team needs to truly work together. Through our all-in-one virtual office, your team can chat, collaborate, and hang out. The best way to bring your team together is waiting for you at Teamflow.
Reviewed by Florent Crivillo, CEO and Founder at TeamFlow
Florent Crivello is the Founder and CEO of Teamflow, a virtual office that helps remote and hybrid teams do their best work in the best way. In a former life, Flo was the Head of Product for Uber Works, where he experienced firsthand the difficulties of managing a distributed and remote workforce. Following that experience, Flo conceived, coded, and launched the first version of Teamflow in early 2020. Since then, he's raised $50m in funding from top-flight venture capitalists including Menlo Ventures, Battery, and Coatue to revolutionize the way we work. In his spare time, Flo is a contributing writer to Forbes magazine.
1. Forbes. 12 Actionable Ways To Build And Sustain Culture In A Remote Environment. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesbusinessdevelopmentcouncil/2021/02/02/12-actionable-ways-to-build-and-sustain-culture-in-a-remote-environment/?sh=6352d27e7ba5
2. The Balance Careers. What Is Company Culture?. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/what-is-company-culture-2062000
3. HR Mornings. How to collaborate better with a remote team. https://www.hrmorning.com/articles/collaborate-remote-team/