If you’re interested in building a sustainable remote work culture for your organization, then it’s good to first understand what remote work culture is and why it’s important.
Just as location-based teams thrive on a positive work culture, so too do remote work teams. But unlike office-based work environments, remote work culture needs to be more intentionally cultivated as there are much fewer opportunities to spontaneously engage, network or informally chat.
The Great Resignation has shown employers that employees around the world are looking for working environments with positive and sustainable remote work cultures.
Remote staff are also looking for flexible work, work life balance and for meaningful work that aligns with a sense of shared purpose and passion.
Below we look at 18 ways you can intentionally cultivate a positive remote work company culture.
What is remote work culture?
Work culture is something that’s actively cultivated by both management and employees. It reflects the attitudes, values and goals of an organization and includes company traditions and procedures, and the way staff engage and communicate with each other.
Work culture helps to make the workplace an enjoyable experience for employees (assuming that it’s a positive work culture).
A positive work culture can actually help attract prospective candidates to an organization and helps companies retain top talent (and the opposite also holds true).
When it comes to remote work, creating a positive work culture takes a little more intentional effort to cultivate as employees aren’t located under one roof.
Many remote work companies have created their own unique remote work cultures.
This may be observed in how employees communicate, how managers communicate with staff, how companies celebrate successes, whether staff have a good work life balance, and whether diversity and inclusion are actively fostered, etc.
Why is it so important to cultivate remote work culture?
The reason why it’s so important to cultivate a sustainable remote work culture is that unlike a physical office environment where you’re seeing colleagues and engaging formally and informally every day – in a remote work job, communication and engagement happen intentionally.
For some remote workers, their companies offer little opportunity for collaboration, engagement, networking, informal chats, etc. That can inhibit creativity, a sense of belonging, innovation, collaboration and empathy.
If you haven’t had any shared experiences with colleagues, it’s often difficult to bond, connect and establish a rapport. That can lead to misunderstanding and a lack of shared values.
Many companies are seeing the value in actively cultivating a positive remote work culture. These benefits include having employees who feel happier, are more productive, can collaborate better, and are therefore easier to retain as top talent.
And a positive company culture can also improve customer satisfaction, enhance employee creativity and innovation, and can help make employees feel invested in and valued.
Employees that feel they are part of a greater cause, who feel included and appreciated and who are honored and acknowledged for the work they do, are often also better brand ambassadors.
18 ways to create a sustainable remote work culture
Below we look at 18 ways to create a sustainable remote work culture, so your organization can thrive and grow – supported by a team of committed and value-driven employees.
1. Share your company values, goals and mission
Cultivating a positive company culture for a remote work enterprise is usually driven by sharing your company values, goals and mission with your employees and having them relate to (and share in) those values.
For example, if you value diversity and inclusion, many employees will then be encouraged to share those values and to take action to implement those values throughout their work and engagements with other staff.
Creating shared values helps to reinforce company culture. It’s therefore critical that your HR team hires people who resonate with your company values, goals and mission. That’s because those people will be more likely to champion your values and cultivate the company culture that you aspire to.
It’s also a good idea to assess culture fit when hiring remotely.
2. Set expectations
By setting clear expectations from the start with your remote employees, you can help to manage their expectations, avoid misunderstandings and create a more harmonious atmosphere.
Expectations may include KPIs for performance, the number of work hours expected, and project deadlines.
Expectations can also extend to how and when communication should take place, and what constitutes acceptable behavior.
You can set expectations around values and principles that you admire and want to aim for in the organization such as equity, fairness, resilience and inclusivity.
It’s important to reiterate and reinforce your expectations regularly, and to communicate these clearly so that everyone is on the same page.
3. Communicate clearly, regularly and transparently
Clear, regular, transparent and friendly communication is a tool for building rapport, cultivating company culture, and creating a feeling of trust and respect amongst colleagues.
If you create an environment and atmosphere where your team feels that they can openly share their thoughts and ideas, then they are likely to be more creative, innovative and collaborative.
It’s important to provide staff with constructive feedback and to reinforce values, goals and company mission regularly through clear communication.
Another aspect of good communication is using the right tools for communication. When it comes to remote working, there are a range of tools that can help provide a platform for enhanced communication, project management, and team building.
Remote companies need to think strategically about providing access to the right tools to cultivate communication and to give staff the ability to not only share information and data, but to also get to know one another, socialize and build up positive working relationships.
4. Make time for engagement
It’s vital that remote companies build engagement with their employees. This requires actively making time to check in with staff, to hear their feedback and suggestions, and to provide opportunities for staff to give their opinions, ask questions and raise their voices.
Building engagement helps to make staff feel empowered, recognised and meaningful, and can help with staff retention and loyalty.
Engagement can be cultivated through one-on-one meetings, through informal networking events, and through corporate team builds.
5. Focus on results
Many people are goal-oriented, so by setting goals and priorities for your remote teams, you give them something to work towards. And by creating shared team goals, this can help create a culture of collaboration and cooperation, as staff are motivated to achieve the goals together.
Goals can help motivate employees to be more productive, and if there is a healthy work life balance and benefits, they can also help with job satisfaction and reduce turnover.
6. Establish a sense of trust
Remote companies that give their teams a sense of autonomy and trust to manage their own workloads without being micromanaged, can benefit from the positive culture this creates.
Placing trust in your staff also facilitates better communication and collaboration and gives staff a feeling that they can deliver results and perform their jobs effectively and efficiently.
7. Create shareable policies and procedures
If you have a policy on something, then that policy should be written and shared with all staff. That way everyone knows what’s required of them, and the rules are standardized and documented.
Documenting standard operating procedures can also help minimize onboarding training, and can help enhance productivity.
For example, having a written company handbook can help staff learn about the company and its values, and give people insights into existing company culture. It also gives new staff members an accessible way of learning about the company history, values and aspirations.
8. Give feedback
Giving your staff feedback on the work they’re doing, helps staff to gauge what your expectations are and the opportunity to adjust their performance if needed.
Constructive feedback should also acknowledge successes and accomplishments of your staff and should provide suggestions for improvements and growth.
9. Create a central communication hub
Remote employees need to be able to communicate easily and seamlessly with each other.
There are many software tools available which enable this. Companies need to both provide and prescribe the tools which all employees should use for communication, collaboration and other aspects of work.
For example, you may prescribe Google Workspace for sharing information, Asana for project management and Slack for team collaboration. These software tools can help to streamline communications and enable better collaboration.
10. Offer remote work benefits
Remote companies are starting to tailor their remote work benefits packages to the needs of remote workforces.
Offering attractive and relevant benefits packages can help companies to both attract and retain the best talent.
One of the most attractive and desirable perks for remote staff is flexibility.
In addition, access to healthcare insurance is a highly sought after benefit for remote workers, who may otherwise not have ready access to the healthcare that they need to remain healthy, happy and productive.
There are global healthcare plans specifically designed for remote work companies and their staff, as well as digital nomads.
SafetyWing’s comprehensive global remote health insurance is available in over 175 countries, and is easily scalable for organizations of any size.
Simply add employees as you onboard additional staff and they will then be able to access premium healthcare and emergency services wherever they live.
11. Set strict boundaries
Managers can also set a positive culture when it comes to work life balance, by setting clear boundaries when it comes to work hours and overtime.
If it’s communicated and reinforced that work hours are adhered to, then staff are more able to have a healthy work life balance. That in itself can help boost productivity, morale, and make employees more likely to remain working for that company.
On the contrary, companies that don’t set boundaries and which expect lots of overtime and last-minute stressful deadlines, may create a culture of burnout and resentment which can lead to high staff turnover and a negative company reputation.
12. Create a great onboarding experience
The interview and onboarding process is an opportunity for companies to create a great impression of their company culture. That can help companies to attract the top talent from around the world.
It’s important to realize the value of a structured and effective onboarding process that is intentional and that welcomes new staff and makes them feel connected and valued from the start.
Onboarding is also an opportunity to communicate with new staff about your company’s unique values and goals and to hopefully find alignment and shared values with new recruits.
Making a great impression during recruitment and onboarding can help to attract great staff and retain them.
13. Celebrate success and acknowledge staff for their work and achievements
Part of creating a sense of community and work pride, is to celebrate success and milestones and to acknowledge people for their achievements.
That includes celebrating milestones, birthdays, and making staff feel acknowledged and rewarded for their work and efforts.
14. Have ‘buddy’ system
Many corporates opt for a buddy system, whereby two staff members are paired for a limited amount of time to work together towards common targets. This can help to foster closer working relationships and to encourage partnership and collaboration.
Buddy systems can also be particularly welcomed by new recruits, as they can assist with mentoring new staff and teaching them the ropes in a friendly and informal way.
15. Mentor remote staff
Mentoring new staff can help provide an opportunity for learning and engagement in an informal way, where trust is built.
It gives both the mentor and mentee the chance to engage and develop leadership abilities. And it can help foster collaboration and shared values.
16. Be inclusive
Diversity, equity and inclusion are company values that recognize and celebrate each individual and foster mutual respect, while aiming to eliminate bias.
It takes a conscious and intentional effort to create an inclusive, equitable and diverse work culture. This requires continuous reinforcement of these values in company communication and all engagements with and between staff.
17. Commitment to team building and networking
Just because your team is remote, doesn’t mean that you can’t actively build community.
There are many virtual team building and remote networking tools and activities that can help to foster a greater sense of teamwork and community.
And if your remote staff are all located in the same area, you could even arrange occasional in-person get togethers.
18. Offer support services
Remote staff often need support, whether it’s in establishing work-from-home workstations or setting up a VPN.
Having a dedicated IT support center can help employees stay productive and troubleshoot any IT or communication problems they may encounter.
Having access to support can help make employees feel that they’re not alone and that they have someone to turn to if they need help resolving a technical issue.
Final thoughts on enhancing remote work culture within companies
Building a sustainable remote work culture is beneficial to both remote employees and the companies they work for.
It helps to boost morale, create a sense of loyalty and shared values, and can enhance productivity.
A sustainable remote work culture can also help companies to attract and retain top talent – helping them grow and thrive.
But creating and enhancing remote work culture takes a proactive and intentional mindset.
There are many activities and initiatives which can help you to spark and implement a positive remote work culture, and to reinforce your company values and goals.
It’s important to remember that culture is fluid and ever-changing, which means it requires consistent and continuous effort to maintain and cultivate a positive company culture.