Remote work has certainly seen an uptick in recent years with 20% of the workforce working fully remote and, unsurprisingly, 40% of job seekers stating that they would prefer to work remotely. With this significant part of the workforce working fully remote, challenges sometimes arise when trying to keep a strong remote work culture.
Employees seek companies where they feel happy to work. They want to wake up and start their day knowing that the work they do is important and that their initiatives are supported by the company.
So, it is not surprising that company culture and values are cited in the top 23% of influence when finding a new job (Source: JobVite).
It's essential that a company has a strong remote culture so that their employees feel engaged and a part of the company instead of just a warm body doing a job that is replaceable at any moment.
Prior to the pandemic days, it was easier to show a good company culture through employee events, gatherings, check-ins, coffee breaks, and so many other scenarios. During the pandemic, however, many workers were forced to work from home, so they lost the relational connectivity that comes with being in an office setting.
Although building a strong remote culture may seem intimidating and seemingly impossible, there are some quick wins that can be implemented to encourage a thriving culture. Below are 8 ways to build a strong remote culture.
1. Create a Monthly Company Newsletter
A monthly company newsletter is a golden opportunity to spread company-wide information. A good newsletter should have a mix of upcoming news, projects completed, motivational quotes, employee updates and interviews, birthdays, and anniversaries.
Most everyone likes to read about themselves or those who work with them, so interviewing 3 or 4 employees every month about their personal lives, hobbies and motivations will certainly interest employees. It also helps employees discover more about each other and could potentially spark a few conversations.
Employees will benefit by staying connected to their co-workers, but also up to date on current events within the company. A monthly newsletter will increase transparency and communication company-wide, therefore strengthening the company culture.
If you are just getting started with your company newsletter, you could use free email templates to get started. There are tons of free resources available that would make sending out a company newsletter a quicker and easier process.
Here is an example of one of Sendinblue’s email templates in action:
2. Allow Online Company Networking
Allow employees to connect during work hours by sponsoring an online, internal messaging and networking system. Sometimes employees may not feel comfortable adding all their coworkers to social media, however, a work-based platform allows all users to internally share their thoughts and ideas and gives them a safe space to celebrate promotions and completed projects.
Get Mail Bird suggests several messaging options (and many of them are free) to allow coworkers messaging freedom throughout the business day. An added bonus of these company messaging apps is that if remote employees are in different countries, the apps may be used anywhere and at any time without additional messaging rates or fees.
3. Ask for Needs and Act Upon Them
During weekly check-ins, allow employees the opportunity to express any ideas or needs they might have. A shocking study from the Workforce Institute found that 75% of employees do not feel heard on important workplace topics.
Regularly checking in with employees and consistently asking for feedback will allow employees to feel valued by the company. Whenever possible, employers should analyze feedback received and act upon it to improve work conditions and provide new initiatives as often as they can.
4. Provide a Virtual Water-Cooler Meetup
One of the great things about being at an office location is the water cooler or coffee meet-ups where workers are allowed a few moments to decompress and share what is going on in their personal lives. Unfortunately, this was lost when companies had to switch employees to online work.
For many, online work came as a solace and a boost in productivity, but employees were soon feeling burnt out as they were working more than ever before while having to deal with some frustrations that come from working from home such as connectivity issues and watching their children, among others.
A survey from Monster states that 69% of employees are experiencing burnout symptoms while working from home. Help employees avoid this exasperating feeling by hosting a virtual water cooler meet-up. Have a mandatory meet-up where employees check in with each other for 15 to 20 minutes online. Keep the setting informal and, if necessary, have some conversation starters to get the conversation going.
Employees will appreciate the commitment the company has to their mental well-being along with some time to informally catch up with their coworkers.
5. Ensure Buy-in from Company Leaders
Although organizational culture involves the participation of the majority of employees, the leaders of the company are at the forefront of shaping a thriving company culture. In research done by Quantum Workplace, it was found that employees felt that out of all the company members, leaders were 83% responsible for shaping their company’s culture.
Good to Great author Jim Collins says, “It is not the content of a company’s values that correlates with performance, but the strength of conviction with which it holds those values, whatever they might be.”
Having leaders that show their conviction for the company’s culture and values is essential to a company’s efforts toward an excellent company culture. These actions are necessary from key members as employees are looking to them for their reaction and will likely echo their responses.
6. Share the Company Story
Wherever, however, and as often as possible, share your company story. Customers and employees all want to feel like they are a part of something important. When a company shares how it began and how it became who they are today, it allows them to feel connected and engaged with the company and brand.
Shaked Law is an excellent example of this as they share their company history and story on their About page. Simply by visiting their website, prospective customers are able to get a feel for what the law firm is about.
The firm even goes a step further from the company history to show how they engage with its community. If an employee who is interviewing with the company looked at this website and saw how important company culture is to them, they will be more compelled to be a part of this company.
7. Allow Flexibility for Scheduling Meetings
Every employee has a different schedule from each other. For that reason, it can sometimes be difficult to schedule a meeting for all remote employees to attend.
Instead of having a time set in stone, a company should allow employees to collaboratively select meeting times that work best for them. With SavvyCal’s personalized scheduling experience, the frustrating process of scheduling a time with multiple employees is made quite easy.
How to Schedule Appointments with SavvyCal
All the employees need to do is access the SavvyCal calendar and connect their calendars to ensure they are not double-booking themselves.
Instead of having to flip back and forth among calendars, the app will automatically overlay an employee’s calendar with the scheduler’s calendar to allow ease of access for finding correlating available times.
Additionally, the scheduler may offer some available times and the employees may accept or reject the proposed time slots. This personalized experience is excellent for a strong remote culture as it respects the employee’s availability across different time zones.
8. Consider Virtual Team Building Events
To increase employee engagement, companies should consider hosting a virtual team-building event. A survey from Team Building Hub found that 63% of leaders felt team communication improved after participating in team-building activities.
A few, but not all, ideas include a seasonal beer and cheese pairing experience, a virtual health-related incentive, an online escape room, virtual beer crawl, among others.
Regardless of which event is chosen, remote employees will certainly enjoy the chance to network and create strong work relationships.
Why is it important to create a strong remote culture?
A strong remote culture is essential to keeping employees engaged. Employees want to feel connected and like they work at a place where they are heard and valued. A proactive company will seek out ways to engage employees and invest in their partnership to create a strong culture that will allow buy-in and longevity from the employees.
It Helps Employees Feel Connected
Human beings want to feel like they belong. On the same note, every employee wants to feel like they fit into the company. Regardless of whether or not they verbally express this, they do want to belong to the group where they have chosen to work.
It Improves Employee Retention Rates
A connected employee rarely will seek out other opportunities if they are happy where they work. Although company culture-related activities may seem superfluous to spend a budget on, the truth is that the activities directly impact employee longevity.
65% of workers believe it takes less than one month to decide whether or not the company is a good cultural fit for them. For this reason, it is crucial that the employee is able to get a good feel for the strong remote culture that a company has from the very beginning.
It Attracts New Employees
15% of job seekers turned down a job offer because of the company’s culture. As more and more employees put heavy emphasis on healthy working culture, the percentage of individuals who claim to change jobs every 1-5 years is only increasing.
When prospective employees are looking for a new company, they always ask themselves, why do I want to work here?
What makes this company different from the rest of my options?
This is a company’s shining moment to really stand apart from the crowd and showcase its strong employee culture. Employees will be enticed by development opportunities, virtual meetups, and other opportunities to belong to the company environment.
It also helps companies attract the best talent because it is only the best talent that gets to be picky when applying for jobs.
Create Strong Relationships Through a Strong Remote Culture
Regardless of the methods a company chooses to implement to motivate a strong culture, the truth is that both the company and the employees will benefit. 66% of employees say culture positively impacts their work and behavior every day. A company that is able to provide a strong remote culture will engage employees to have stronger relationships at work and be committed to providing the company success.
The company will benefit from the employees’ dedication and buy-in to the company, so both sides will always win from strong company culture.