Building a positive company culture is important because it influences how your employees and clients perceive you—which affects how successful your business will be. Culture can transform employees into advocates, enrich their health and well-being, and ensure an organization retains its top talent. But how can you build a strong company culture when your team is working from home?
In a traditional office setting, culture can evolve organically through shared experiences, face-to-face meetings, team activities, and collaboration. As they spend a lot of time together, employees gain a sense of belonging and mutual purpose. Building a remote team culture can also happen organically, but as remote teams are physically distanced it can be more challenging, requiring more deliberate thought and proactive effort to shape.
Building a strong company culture with a remote team
Post-pandemic, having a process in place to build a remote team culture is more relevant than ever. Here are tips on how to build and grow your remote team’s company culture:
Whether you are recruiting your first remote employee or introducing a new hire to an established team, company culture needs to be at the forefront throughout the hiring process. One of the most advantageous factors of remote workers is that they can be located anywhere across the world. You are no longer restricted to local hires. This gives you the best chance of finding the best person for the job.
When you are recruiting, try to push beyond the standard and find new team members from a larger hiring pool. Take into consideration the diverse individuals and viewpoints you can now bring to your team and how they will contribute to your company culture. Create an even playing field and promote an open, collaborative culture of team-building and togetherness from the very beginning. Then, as your team continues to grow, your remote employees will feel more confident to contribute to the overall culture.
When you are onboarding new employees who will be working from home, you must support them, early and often. You need to set aside time to introduce yourself and to introduce them individually to the rest of the team. These meetings should take place via video call, as it is important that team members spend time face-to-face virtually to build rapport.
Here are some steps you can take to support a new remote employee through the onboarding process:
- Develop a two-week plan: Full-time remote workers take longer to onboard. Create a plan or devise an onboarding guide that provides relevant information and schedules meetings to help reduce the stress and anxiety new hires can experience. A solid onboarding plan should ensure new employees get the introductions, processes, and projects they need in the first two weeks of their employment.
- Start small: Extend your plan to show remote employees what onboarding will look like 30, 60, or 90 days in. Assign them small projects at first, and be sure to hand-hold a little by introducing them to cross-functional team members. It is vital to check in regularly so your remote workers don’t feel isolated or confused.
- Onboard in groups: Group onboarding minimizes effort and also creates a sense of community among new hires. In these cases, it can be beneficial to appoint long-standing employees to welcome them and promote company culture and values.
- Communicate missions and goals clearly. It’s much easier to create a high-performing company culture with a remote team if everyone understands the organization’s values and vision. Develop a clear and concise way of expressing your mission and goals and communicate them to your teams in a way that suits your brand and business. If you continue to reinforce your mission it will remind people of the importance of what they’re accomplishing together, no matter where they are located.
Create channels for connection
It has always been extremely important to ensure that your team feels engaged and connected. Establishing multiple communication channels that allow your remote team to stay in touch regularly is the best way to do that. There are many streamlined platforms available beyond email and phone such as Trello, Slack, and Zoom. These applications have been designed with remote workers in mind and allow for all types of communication, formal and informal.
Studies have shown that teams that are more emotionally connected, and engaged work more effectively together. When your remote employees can chat freely, share private jokes, and send each other gifs and memes, it creates bonds and connections that may only have previously been possible in the breakroom.
Encourage a culture of understanding
It can be easy to forget that people learn, work, and operate in different ways. When employees are interacting virtually and rarely meet face-to-face it can be harder for them to figure each other out. It can be a good idea to set exercises like taking online personality tests or asking employees to produce personal manifestos to help team members understand one other. Also, provide time for non-work-related conversation so they can get to know one another on a more personal level.
It can be hard to find the time to highlight your team’s accomplishments, but, finding ways to show your remote employees that you value them is key to building a strong company culture. There are endless ways to show employee appreciation using your online communication channels, for example, creating a Slack channel dedicated to sharing individual achievements, sending out message blasts for events like birthdays and holidays, or arranging a virtual ‘happy hour’ in honor of a recent win. No matter how you go about it, finding ways to encourage your team is the key to maintaining a happy, healthy, and productive remote team.
Schedule some face time
You may have remote employees located across the globe, but wherever possible you should try and bring your team together so they can spend some time face-to-face. How often this happens, and where, will depend on the size of your company and your budget. Meeting face-to-face is important for relationship building. If you can, rent a co-working space for in-person meetings, or if your team deserves a break, schedule a fun team-building event where they can relax together. If you can’t bring your remote team together physically, you can still hold meetings over Google Hangouts or play team games over Zoom to get your team synced regularly.
Building a strong company culture with a remote team can be challenging, but if you are consciously striving to create one and embracing the technology that has been developed to aid the process, it is within reach.