Company culture goes far beyond branding, happy hours, and cool company merchandise. According to Nulab, 83% of employees agree that culture is a top factor when they’re deciding between companies. It’s no wonder — the work environment you create for your employees has a huge impact on their well-being, productivity, and success.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many companies need to build a remote work culture that’s just as tangible as their office culture. So how do you engage and motivate employees in the remote world? This guide will show you how to build a great remote work culture, whether you have 20 remote employees or 2,000.
First, let’s define the term “work culture.” It can be difficult to put into words, which is why we created a list of 33 terms you can use to define your company culture.
Your company’s work culture is the collection of values, attitudes, habits, and goals shared by your company and your employees. A remote work culture is very similar, except it’s more heavily influenced by technology. The tech tools, digital processes, virtual activities, and even the language your team uses (text, emojis, GIFs, etc) play a bigger role in forming your culture. Also, employees that work remotely tend to expect more freedom and flexibility with the hours they work.
Company culture isn’t a list of core values, a vision statement, or an employee benefits package (even unlimited vacation and ping pong tables). These are simply tools to shape and guide the employee experience.
Nurturing company culture can often take a backseat to other business activities, but it should be at the top of your priority list. Why? Culture directly impacts your organization, from the success of your recruiting and employee retention efforts to performance and revenue goals. It’s been proven time and again: Employees that feel happy and connected are far more productive than unhappy employees.
In addition, you’ll have a remote culture whether you intentionally create one or not. Your employees will form their own perception of your company based on their day-to-day experience in the virtual work environment. They might see it as flexible, collaborative, and fulfilling — or isolating and restrictive. So, it’s worth being intentional in how you create your culture, investing time and energy into making it the best culture possible.
Let’s look at the perks of crafting a strong remote work culture:
Remote employees are more likely to feel lonely than their fellow employees working in the office. That disconnected feeling zaps satisfaction, productivity, work quality, and also makes remote workers more likely to quit. By providing a better culture, you help create a happier team.
Studies have shown that remote workers are the same or more productive than their in-person counterparts — imagine a remote team that feels truly invested in your company.
The future of work looks to be moving toward remote and hybrid work environments. According to Gallup, 7 in 10 “white collar” office workers are still working remotely post-pandemic. And 74% of professionals expect remote work to become standard.
Getting this right early on will make your company more attractive to A-list talent and make current employees more likely to recommend the company to peers. You’ll be prepared to successfully onboard new remote staff and continue growing your dispersed team.
Good communication is the foundation of every successful company. Remote employees who are part of an encouraging, supportive culture won’t feel nervous bringing up new ideas or giving their teams important feedback. They’ll dive into collaborations, form stronger relationships with their coworkers, and fuel innovation across the company. It takes time to build trust in or outside the office, but the benefits are great.
Recommended Reading: Developing a Culture of Collaboration: 11 Key Ideas for Creating One
Building a company culture is a collective effort. HR and People Ops teams will lead the way, but you’ll need to win buy-in and encourage participation from your remote workers (and in-person workers if you have them). Below, we’ve rounded up strategies, ideas, and tools to help unify your team and create a bustling digital culture in no time.
Culture is so much more than a “Company Values” landing page. However, a remote culture statement can serve as a guiding light as you experiment with remote practices and policies.
Your statement should list your values and explain how you’ll make them come to life for remote employees. This can help you attract and hire the right team members from the start and lower your turnover rate. Here’s an example from Toptal:
“As a remote company, we don’t know or care how many hours you spend sitting in a chair—we care about results. We are a company of driven, ambitious individuals who care about impact, and impact requires raw effort.”
Although remote workers aren’t elbow-to-elbow in a physical office space, it’s still important to hire individuals who can work well together and enrich the company overall.
A personality test is an easy-to-use tool to assess cultural fit and build cohesive teams. “Cohesive” doesn’t mean “identical.” You can use the results to group teams based on how they can support each other’s weaknesses and offer diverse perspectives.
The “new normal,” i.e., the rapid shift to working from home, is also allowing companies to rethink and revamp onboarding. The process of welcoming and preparing your remote workers should start well before their official first day.
“Preboarding” helps your remote employees feel like part of the team right away, from introducing them to the team to ensuring their equipment works before day one.
You can also ensure things run smoothly with this free new employee checklist.
Managers and leaders need to provide clear guidelines for what a remote work environment looks and feels like for staff.
For instance, do remote workers need to stick to fixed hours like in-office workers? Can they travel during the work week or should they request time off? Should they use different tools or channels of communication to send progress updates, announce time off, or chat with coworkers?
These rules will shape your remote workplace culture, so aim to create a feedback loop with employees.
Building camaraderie in a remote working environment can be hard, no matter how expressive your team’s emojis and GIFs are. Luckily, as the pandemic slows down, companies can revert back to a healthy mix of in-person meetups and remote events.
Make sure to put plenty of time on the calendar for casual bonding, company retreats, and team-building exercises. You can even create unique, remote-based cultural traditions, such as an annual online gaming tournament.
Just like traditional in-office employees, remote employees perform their best when they’ve established career goals with their team leaders. It’s an easy win to help your remote workers feel invested and committed to the company despite the physical divide.
Check out this professional development goal template and list of best practices to get a head start.
Nothing slows a remote team down like technical issues, clunky equipment, or a distracting environment. Make sure your employees have the home office setup they need, whether you purchase the equipment or offer stipends. For example, we gave Pingboard employees a $250 stipend to spruce up their home office as we all shifted to remote work together.
This shows your company actually understands the needs and challenges of remote workers and has their back. We’ll cover some of the best remote tech tools next.
If you want your distributed team members to perform their best, they’ll need reliable tools — both hardware and software. As for hardware, choose high-quality laptops or desktop computers, webcams, and headphones. Don’t forget ergonomic desks, chairs, keyboards, and mouses.
Software, on the other hand, is how you’ll create an engaging and interactive digital workspace. This is where your employees will communicate, collaborate, celebrate, and get to know each other, so it pays to invest in the right tools. Below, we’ve rounded up some of the top software tools for the job.
Pingboard gives employees easy access to an employee directory, live org chart, peer recognition tools, and who’s out feature, making it easy for remote employees to get to know who’s who, who does what, start conversations, and dive into teamwork.
Slack is a communication tool for organizations of any size and makes remote work a breeze. It acts as a virtual office where the entire team can send quick messages and files, or gather around the digital water cooler to talk pop culture and share jokes.
Trello is a project management tool for user-friendly crossfunctional collaboration. Other highly-rated task management and collaboration platforms include Asana, Airtable, Monday.com, and Jira.
Zoom is a versatile platform for video meetings and voice calls. It includes real-time chats, file sharing, whiteboard integrations, and more. Use it for 1:1 check-ins and virtual team-building events, too.
Serene is a productivity app that helps people enhance their focus and steer clear of distracting notifications and websites. It’s a great way to help remote workers get their work done quickly and maintain a good work-life balance, and avoid burnout.
TrackingTime is a simple project tracking software for freelancers and teams. You can use it to keep track of progress, organize your team's work, and get customized business reports to share with your clients. Track time anywhere you work, from any device or using one of the 30+ integrations.
When people think of organizational culture, they often think of socializing, and with good reason. Employees need face-to-face time to build trust, form strong bonds, and maintain personal wellbeing. Here are some fun ideas for remote socializing:
For more ideas, check out these best practices for building a connected team culture.
At Pingboard, we make sure your employees stay connected, engaged, and satisfied, whether they’re working remote or from the office. Our software solution plugs into your HR and People Ops teams to improve visibility across your organization, deliver effective employee communication, and enhance the software tools you already have. Sign-up today to try our free 14-day trial.