10 Tips to Create a Winning Remote Company Culture
It is predicted that 38 per cent of full-time staff will be working remotely in the next decade. Reasons for increased remote staff include shortage of talent; greater interest among workers in pursuing flexible work arrangements; emerging technologies; increased globalization.
However, some worry that creating a strong company culture is impossible in a remote environment. Join 10 leaders from various remote companies as they share their tips on how to create a winning remote company culture—no office required.
1. Make it personal: At FlexJobs, work flex and fun go hand in hand. Carol Cochran, director of people & culture says, “We’ve sent candy at Halloween, coupons for free ice cream in the summer, and gifts to commemorate milestones in the company.” The company even sends welcome packages to new hires to ensure that everyone feels like they’re all on the same team, no matter where they live…or work.
2. Talk about work—and hobbies, too: Constant communication is pivotal for the success of remote companies. That said (no pun intended), talking only about work can kind of get, well, boring. That’s why Sara Russo, marketing manager, and Lori McLeese, head of HR at Automattic, ensure that their teams stay connected on a more personal level by offering hangouts for them to chat about anything. “We have watercooler P2s that focus on music, games, literature, fitness, home ownership, pets, tattoos—about just about anything that creates a bond between Automatticians,” say Russo and McLeese.
3. Throw parties and events: While traditional office parties might make on-site staffers groan, they can be a great way to create a winning remote company culture. “We consider our remote employees for any event we plan as a company,” says Joan Stearns, HR coordinator, AnswerFirst. “We limit office parties to only twice a year since remotes cannot always attend. Throughout the year we have virtual events that all employees can participate in like scavenger hunts, health challenges, and word searches to name a few.”
4. Start with the hiring process: Having a fabulous company culture doesn’t start once your staff is already in place—it happens when you’re forming your team. “It all starts with the hiring process—we put a lot of time and effort into hiring people who embody our values, like taking ownership, choosing kindness, and providing value,” says Tom VanBuren, content manager at Edgar. “We document those values and make sure we reinforce them with our behavior and in our daily operations, too.”
So be sure to look for job candidates whose values and core beliefs align with the company’s culture to build an even stronger team.
5. Give them what they need to succeed: It’s important for managers to bring out the best in their workers. That means outfitting your workers to have what they need to work successfully.
Maren Boger, people operations manager at Eyeo GmbH says, “Ensure that every employee has what he or she needs to feel comfortable at work (allowance for good quality office furniture, free choice of hardware, covering costs for office visits, etc.).” Equipping your workers with the tools they need can help them to produce the best work possible.
6. Use rewards: Remember the thrill of getting a gold star on your homework when you were in elementary school? Well, the excitement of getting rewarded for good work doesn’t end as you get older.
Jay Friedman, chief operating officer of the Goodway Group knows this, and that’s why his company uses a rewards system for its workers. “Goodway tries to have our own level of perks and rewards that are equally as desirable and beneficial to remote employees,” says Friedman. “We use a program called Recognize to thank each other for a job well done with customized badges.”
7. Assign a buddy: Finding your way on your first day of work can be tough enough when you work in a brick-and-mortar office, but it can be even trickier when you work remotely. ICUC Social has a good idea to help new employees assimilate to their new job—assign them a buddy.
“All new hires are assigned a Sherpa, someone that spends some time with that new hire over the course of their first month on the team,” says Nicole van Zanten, director of marketing and communications at ICUC Social. “The Sherpa is not the new hire’s manager and is intended to be a friend or act as a guide to the new hire as they are just starting out in their new role. This program helps new hires feel connected to and that they are a part of and belong at ICUC.”
8. Treat your workers to a retreat: Retreats are a big thing for remote companies. Not only do they allow workers the chance to meet each other face-to-face (many for the first time!), but they also encourage the growth of new ideas and genuine camaraderie.
Jared Ponchot, creative director at Lullabot, is a big believer in the power of retreats. “We have an annual all company retreat, but we also have more focused retreats pretty regularly for smaller teams within the company focused on particular things.”
9. Highlight your company’s humanitarian efforts: Many job seekers are looking to work for companies that are interested in more than just their bottom line. In fact, workers will seek out companies that reflect their own beliefs or support causes that are near and dear to their own hearts. A great way to create an amazing company culture is by highlighting your company’s humanitarian efforts, just like Summit CPA Group does.
“Another important aspect of our culture is our corporate social responsibility (CSR) program. Every year, each employee has access to $100 to which they can donate to a cause important to them,” says Jody Grunden, partner at Summit CPA Group. “Employees love this program as they recognize their employer cares about their life outside the office and empowers them and supports them in making a difference in their local communities.”
10. Embrace work flexibility: Studies have shown that the vast majority of today’s talent pool is looking for flexible work options. A big part of any remote company’s culture is its ability to embrace work flexibility for the benefits that it brings to both employers and employees.
Breanden Beneschott, co-founder of Toptal claims, “In short, we try to do things that help the people at Toptal be bad ass. For example, we encourage, support, and celebrate travel and adventure. A lot of times on team calls, we’ll start by asking people from where they are working today. The answers are often incredible and include exotic countries, exotic locations, and exotic atmospheres.” By encouraging your remote workers to travel beyond the borders of their home offices and have an adventure, it can help to build an even stronger company culture—and a happy and invested workforce.