How to cultivate a positive culture when working remotely

It’s a common misconception that businesses with distributed teams struggle to build culture. However, established companies like GitHub, Litmus and Zapier have succeeded, so what are they doing differently?

In this blog we’re going to discuss tips on how to cultivate culture when your team is working remotely.

These points are all easy to implement, do not require hours of research and can work well for a team, division or entire business. Let’s get to it!

Lead and they shall follow

It takes more than writing down some values in a document to cultivate a thriving company culture. Your managers need to embody your business’ culture and lead by example. According to Basecamp founder, Jason Fried, “culture is the by-product of consistent behaviour.” For instance, if you encourage people to collaborate and give them the tools and encouragement to do this then they will, and this will form part of your culture.

All about the environment

Talking about tools, you must develop an environment where people can do their best work- and you don’t need to have an office to be able to do this.

Make sure your employees have everything they require to succeed, whether that be a computer that can handle the software they use, a chair that will be comfortable to sit in for 8 hours a day or even quality teabags. Just because people are working from home doesn’t mean you should skimp on the basics.

Channel your efforts

With remote workers, you need to find other ways to encourage what is often referred to as “water cooler” chat. When people work in an office, it’s normal for people to start having a conversation unrelated to work when making a brew or taking a break for lunch. This is a critical part of creating a company culture which can and should, be replicated when working remotely.

A way of assimilating these impromptu moments is to have dedicated Slack channels (other instant messaging services are available) for non-work-related chatter. Encourage the use of gifs and emojis! These interactions should not share the formality of emails and team members should feel comfortable messaging as if they were messaging a friend.

Make time

As well as instant messaging don’t forget video. With the likes of Microsoft Teams, Google Hangouts and Skype, it’s as easy to video call someone as it to phone them. This technology should not be reserved only for official meetings. Utilising video enables people to see facial expressions and allows the conversation to flow more smoothly (bandwidth permitting).

How about scheduling a team update call every Monday morning so people can discuss their weekend over a cup of tea? Or perhaps organise an hour mid-week where people can down tools and take part in a good old-fashioned quiz? Giving employees the freedom to chat with their colleagues during working hours will have a positive effect on productivity as well as enhance your company culture.

Don’t be afraid to change your mind

Unlike other aspects of your business, you can’t thoroughly plan your company culture. Your culture will evolve as you grow, so just go with it. Don’t spend time developing a well thought out culture for 250 people when you only have 25. Do what works and feels right now and you can always adapt this as your company develops.

We hope we’ve given you some food for thought on how to build a positive company culture when working with a remote team. Our key points are:

  • Managers should lead by example and encourage positive behaviours
  • Make sure employees are set up for success and have the tools they require
  • Use a communication platform like Slack or Teams to cultivate non-work chatter
  • Empower employees to take time to cultivate relationships with team members
  • Remember that your culture will adapt over time and as your business grows

Looking to recruit a remote work but have reservations? Get in touch with the team today.

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