How to build a strong culture in a remote company
Building and promoting a healthy and productive company is important, but what it takes to build culture is changing with the continued rise of the remote workforce.
Over the past decade, there has been 115% growth in remote working. In the US alone there are some 3.9 million remote workers, representing nearly 3% of the entire workforce. This trend is set to continue well into the future and it will affect the way companies build cohesive company cultures.
Why company culture is important
Culture isn’t just good for employees, it’s good for business. Cultivating a strong culture defines how employees interact, communicate and behave in everyday scenarios, leading to greater autonomy, more efficient operations and a happier workplace. The result is a more coherent brand, and both better customer and employee retention.
Why culture is so important for remote workers
Company culture is a funny thing, while much of the cultural building blocks are put in place by company leaders, much of what forms the company culture is the stuff that just happens. Culture is influenced by physical environment, how people behave and how people interact.
By nature of being remote, location independent employees are less exposed to many of the organic cultural cues which aid the diffusion of cultural values. Immersing remote workers in company culture is as important, if not more important than colocation employees.
Having an innate understanding of a company culture means everyone will intuitively act and behave in the same way, regardless of location and hierarchy. This results in giving less direction, answering fewer questions and providing less reassurance to reach a successful outcome – this is remote autonomy.
How to build a remote-friendly company culture
Building remote-friendly company culture isn’t rocket science, but it does take a different playbook. The simplest approach is to take the view that if one person is remote, everyone is remote. This is not a literal instruction, this simply means that if you have a single remote worker you should build all your systems, processes and culture around remote working, as it will also benefit work colocation workers. Here are six ways to build a healthy and productive culture for remote workers.Clearly Communicate
The most important step a company can take towards building a strong culture is to clearly define and communicate the vision and values. Take the time to explain what the culture is, why it matters and what behavioural expectations are.
Weaving culture into everything
A successful company culture is ubiquitous, it should be consciously weaved into every strategy, every initiative and every job role. When creating a remote role, special attention should be paid to the cultural alignment of the role and person recruited for the role.
Make everyone accountable for cultural success
Everyone in the company must be accountable for the successful cultivation of culture. There are no exemptions, in fact, it’s is more important that senior leaders are more proactive cultural promoters. Business leaders should identify metrics which support the activation of the culture, building them into the development program of every coworker from the top down.
Live the culture
A successful culture doesn’t exist on paper, it’s propelled by a team that lives it. It’s important to create opportunities for people to participate in the culture. This is an orchestrated way for teams to learn and adopt behaviours through doing.
Create remote-friendly social events
Great companies are built by working and playing together. Authentic and trusting relationships are built through non-work activities, and the value of these relationships will flow back to the business. Companies with remote workers have to go the extra mile to create opportunities to help their team bond through socialising. If distance prevents physical inclusion, get creative.
Meetup in real life
Meeting coworkers in real life is essential to reinforcing culture and building productive relationships. In a globalised work environment getting even the most dispersed team together at least once or twice a year is affordable. Whenever possible organise physical meetups to allow people to get to know each in the flesh.
As more remote workers enter the workforce, there will be more collaboration between people from different backgrounds, cultures and countries. Fostering a culture which embraces remote is essential to unifying a company and will lead to a high level of cohesion and productivity. These tips for building a strong culture for remote teams is just the starting point. It’s important that every company creates their own cultural playbook for building a company their employees loving work for.