Made in collaboration with: Luke Poulson
With the recent boom in the world of remote, we have seen many businesses pivot dramatically towards adopting remote lifestyles, altering the way they communicate and changing the overall culture of their workspace. Along with that, we can see exponential growth in remote start-ups and individual freelancers who are diving into this new and exciting world. As remote work becomes widespread, , how do we maintain a solid and cohesive remote work culture?
The importance of company culture
Remote teams that resonate with goals and values of the company have been proven to work more efficiently, struggle less with motivation to work, develop better relationships with their team members and are overall happier in their role. From a remote perspective, strong company culture can overcomes borders and bind a variety of nationalities together under shared ideals:
”Company culture trumps the country-specific culture. Creating a strong company culture is more important than the fact that your employees are from Hong Kong or South Africa or Greece.” – Tony Jamous – Oyster “Why remote companies should hire globally”
Making company values visible to everyone in the team is key. They should be at the front and center of all work you’re hoping to achieve: from setting your goals as a company, to making sure your team is focused on moving forward towards these common goals. It will make everyone feel like they are an important part of the team, contributing to the overall goals and company mission.
Hiring the right people for your team
Hiring people based on individual values will help guarantee that those who are in your team are invested in the company ethos, but there’s also a key skill that can’t be ignored when it comes to remote roles: communication.
When selecting people for remote roles, we need to make sure that they have strong communication skills and are comfortable using collaborative tools that play an essential role in maintaining a healthy workflow. It’s worth noting that, although these tools can be a great way to keep in touch with your team, it is important to maintain a moderate level of use, keeping trust in your team at the forefront of all communication. This trust is of key importance when it comes to thriving remotely, while focusing on the overall process and deliverables from everyone in the team instead of wasting time on micromanagement.
Working remotely allows freedom to manage your own schedule, work when you are the most productive, and even decide where you want to be based if your company adopts a fully remote way of operating.
Many companies like Spotify, Coinbase and Shopify recently embraced the remote-first model, but there will be even more companies adapting to at least partially remote or a hybrid way of working. For example, at Allo, every Tuesday and Thursday are our remote work days where we can work from wherever we please, with an option to work from home outside of these days if it’s convenient for the rest of the team. To find out more about how we use daily meetings to link our teams together and foster a cohesive workflow, check out this recent blog post which details our remote working culture.
Remote work culture thrives on communication.
For teams to stay aligned and be productive when we are not physically together, we need to utilize the plethora of tools available that help enhance, streamline and facilitate a strong online working environment. Tools like Slack can help with internal communication, Confluence is great for knowledge sharing, while Allo is a high-level project management tool that you can use to create product roadmaps and visualize marketing strategies.
Make sure everyone on the team understands how to use these tools and what is an appropriate time-frame for responding to team members on Slack vs. via email, and similar. It’s important to avoid communication burnout and viewing messaging as one of the outputs of your productivity. Your team should be able to brainstorm and think creatively without the pressure of immediately addressing every Slack notification.
Setting a maximum amount of meeting hours per day is also a great way to avoid jumping from a call to call without actually addressing high-impact tasks that contribute to your goals.
Overcoming the lack of physical interaction
Most of us have experienced that first day in the office, being shown around, moving from person to person making brief and often awkward introductions before settling down in our own workspace. In a remote environment, we lack that physical interaction but there are plenty of platforms available that allow you to feel even more connected to your team than a physical office would:
- Discord has a great feature that allows you to have a discussion with a group in a voice channel instead of the usual text based channels.
- Loom is great for knowledge sharing and asynchronous work! You can also record a series of short video introductions of all your team members, so instead of walking around the office shaking hands, new hires can view these clips during onboarding and get a real feel for those that they will be working with.
- Spot is the perfect tool for anyone suffering from the Zoom fatigue. The meetings have to go on, but why not jump on a call while talking a walk outside? It does wonders for creative thinking and problem solving.
You should choose the tools based on how your team prefers to work and collaborate, and stay open to suggestions for new tools from your team members.
We’ve examined how we can use formal communication tools to help promote our workplaces' culture and maintain its integrity, but what do we do when it comes down to informal communication? Is a #random Slack channel really enough to help add some humor and fun to everyone’s day? Rather unlikely. So, how do we create a remote environment where informal communication can thrive and people feel free to reach out to others in the team?
Weekly lunches and coffee breaks with a smaller group of people are a great opportunity to talk about something other than work tasks. Also, if your team prefers working more synchronously, coworking sessions might be a great way to maximize productivity or turn meticulous tasks more enjoyable by working on it with someone else from the team. Hackathons offer an original way to get together and see everyone’s individual skill sets at work without relying on arduous Zoom meetings that try to replicate an offline environment. Having an entire team work on something inspiring that’s not strictly related to company goals is a great driving force for better communication and relationships within the team.
Facilitating informal meet-ups and offering incentives
Remote work has a huge range of benefits but you shouldn’t discount the power that in-person team gatherings can have on the development of company culture. While this is not possible at the moment, a yearly meet-up where you fly everyone out to a specific location is a great way to spend some time with your team. This is exactly what remote work is all about: the freedom to work from anywhere, but having the opportunity to choose to sometimes meet up with your team because you truly want to connect and spend time together.
Having a yearly budget for personal development and well-being of your team can have a monumental effect on their effectiveness, and is a fantastic way to demonstrate your dedication to their development within your company. The budget can be spent on books, courses, coaching, conferences, and it could help facilitate a yearly meet-up where everyone gets together in person and, perhaps most importantly, be used to provide benefits that incentivize top talent. Health insurance is one of the top benefits remote workers are expecting from their companies, and Remote Health by SafetyWing is currently the only solution that allows you to onboard everyone in your distributed team to one plan, no matter where they are located in the world.
This product was built for remote teams and it works globally, offering a fully equipped health insurance with customizable add-ons like dental, maternity, $0 deductible, screening & vaccines (and coverage for Covid-19!) This allows you to have an overview of everyone in your team under the same plan rather than researching health insurance plans for every employee in their home base.
This is only the beginning when it comes to offering benefits and a healthy remote lifestyle to your team. We see new startups emerging every day with new products that are offering equal opportunities to everyone around the world. Why limit your company to one country, when you can explore top talent from anywhere in the world?
Although it may seem like remote work could bring an array of challenges to maintaining company culture, it’s clear that this is easily avoidable by being mindful of how your team communicates and collaborates, and truly embodying your company values in everything you do. As long as a workplace cultivates fluid and accessible lines of communication, its culture can be maintained and developed upon every day. By making sure your company is a great place to work from, you’ll find that your remote workplace will transform into an area where company culture becomes a central, thriving aspect of your company.