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10 Ways to Improve Remote Company Culture

Building a company culture is just as vital for businesses with a remote workforce as it is for any other type of business. However, the physical distance between co-workers and lack of face-to-face interactions does present some unique challenges.

Nonetheless, creating a positive company culture is absolutely possible in a remote environment. Many large companies operate successfully with an entirely remote workforce, and in this article, I'm going to provide some learned tips for how your company can too.

Remote work has never been so prevalent, and it looks set to stay. In the healthcare industry particularly, many health systems have taken their Operational and IT staff fully remote, saving loads on office space costs. The companies that can keep their employees engaged and motivated through a strong culture will be the ones that thrive in this new virtual environment. Here are ten ways to improve remote company culture:

1. Establish Your Company Values

If your company hasn't already established its values, now's a great time to do so. Company values are the principles that your company lives by, and they serve as guidelines for how your company operates. Companies with remote workforces need company values just like any other company does. 

They help to give your company an identity and a vision, which are essential for building culture. When your remote team understands what the company values are, they'll feel engaged and part of something tangible and will be able to represent the business better. 

To create your company values, spend some time thinking about what's most important to your company and the things you value over profit. You can do this by holding some virtual brainstorming sessions with your remote team. There's no need to rush the process, so keep reflecting and refining; your company's values reveal themselves over time.

2. Promote Your Company Values

Once you've established your company values, the next essential step is to promote them so your team can embrace them. One way to promote your company values is to set clear expectations for how you'd like team members to communicate with each other.

Another way is to ensure the leadership team leads by example and lives by the company values, as this will then filter down to the rest of the team. You can also prove that your company is committed to its values by making them a metric that you're prepared to hire and fire based on, rather than purely job performance.

When it's clear to everyone what the company values are, it will naturally help you attract the right kind of personalities and talent and repel those whose values don't align, strengthening the company culture further. Remember, when it comes to promoting values, repetition is key. So please take advantage of every opportunity you have to promote them.

3. Use the Best Tools for Remote Teams

The right software and apps can bring numerous benefits to a remote team. They can help your team stay on track, operate efficiently, communicate quickly, collaborate on projects, and more. 

If you want to establish a thriving company culture, you'll want to take advantage of the best tools available. Trying to run your remote team and establish a culture purely through email is going to be nowhere near as effective as using a broader suite of more engaging tools.

Some of the most popular tools for remote teams include:

  • Microsoft Teams - Great for instant messaging and bringing people together to work as a team.
  • Trello - Great for collaboration and allowing remote teams to manage, track, and organize their projects.
  • Asana - Excellent tool for assigning individual tasks, monitoring progress, organizing projects, and hitting deadlines.
  • Zoom - A cloud-based video conferencing platform that allows you to host one-on-one calls, team meetings, and webinars.
  • Microsoft OneDrive - Online cloud storage for files that your remote team can access across all devices.

However, there are plenty more specialist tools out there. And the ones you'll need will depend on the nature of your business. So it's worth doing some initial research to see what's available, as this could pay off over the long run.

4. Provide Neat Branded Merchandise

Another simple but effective way to make people feel part of the team and connected is through great company swag. The key is to design merchandise that people want to keep for a long time, since it reflects your company's brand and values.

For example, if being ethical is one of your company's values, you could pick high-quality, eco-friendly and ethically sourced items. When employees are given the right branded merchandise to wear or use, they will instantly feel more included and supported.

Nowadays, even high-quality merch can be designed online quite simply, and can be sent directly to each of your team members. I also encourage to offer great swag any time you meet up in person as a team.

5. Celebrate as a Team

It's so important to celebrate successes, milestones passed, work anniversaries, and personal things like birthdays and work anniversaries. It's a great way to boost morale among a remote team.

While you may not be able to get together in person to celebrate, there are still plenty of ways you can do it virtually that are just as effective. For example, perhaps you could have the team sing "happy birthday" over a video call, play virtual games together, host a fun professionally hosted virtual event, or even simply send fun messages and GIFs over instant messenger.

Virtual team celebration is an excellent way to promote connectedness and foster company culture. It can provide a reinvigorating break from daily routines and create a sense of togetherness.

6. Meet the Basic Needs of Employees

There are various essentials that each of your employees need to function well while working remotely. Though you may save money on closing down your office space, there will likely be an increase in equipment needs such as a laptops, external monitors, webcams, headset, etc. Even if you don't cover the cost in full, try to offer help your staff that don't have all the essentials. 

Another essential element is to ensure your employees have a clear understanding of expectations and work policies. Adjust your standard operating procedures to better reflect the new remote guidelines and processes.

When teammates feel their basic needs are met, it will make the remote transition much more fluid, and they'll be more likely to stick around long term and continue to develop a strong connection with the company.

7. Create Routines and Traditions

Having a remote workforce shouldn't mean the team doesn't spend quality time together like they would in an office environment. You can accomplish this by making weekly virtual get-togethers part of your routine. For example, you could schedule regular check-ins, lunch together over Teams or Zoom.

If team members are only in contact when they receive or submit work, interactions can feel quite cold and detached. Team members should be in regular contact with each other, so be sure to set weekly, monthly, quarterly, semi-annual, and annual traditions to bond the group.

When employees contact each other on a regular, scheduled basis, virtual interactions will become more comfortable and natural. Conversely, the opposite will happen when long periods go by without interaction and communication is not prioritized.

8. Make Everyone Feel Part of the Team

To create a company culture that runs throughout the organization, each member must feel valued. Often in a remote setting, employees interact with only one or two people in management and never get to know the rest of their co-workers. However, your company should take initiative to avoid this.

When employees are not part any meetings with the entire team, they can feel invisible and unsure whether they're valued. You can overcome this by having employees collaborate on different projects, providing an informal space for team chats, encouraging coworkers to connect, and holding group events with the entire company.

9. Ask for Feedback

The needs of each employee can vary from person to person, so it's best not to assume you know what they want but instead ask for their feedback. Doing so and listening to each employee's response will help you gain valuable insights on what changes to implement.

You could create a survey to send out to all staff or ask for it directly over a call. Asking for feedback helps you identify the challenges that your remote employees might face and develop practical solutions. It also helps to keep everyone engaged and enables you to build a culture based on mutual respect.

10. Support the Wellbeing of Remote Employees

Remote work can sometimes affect people's well-being and mental health, mainly due to isolation or burnout. I encourage you to take some practical steps to improve employees' well-being while also fostering company culture. 

For example, you could hire a yoga instructor to give weekly classes for your remote team over Zoom, which is excellent for physical and mental health. Likewise, you could schedule weekly group meditation or mindfulness sessions virtually.

It's also essential to ask employees how they feel because you won't be able to pick up on non-verbal cues virtually. Some telltale signs of stress and burnout in employees are when they consistently miss deadlines or isolate themselves and avoid interactions. Therapy is now widely available virtually through telehealth providers, so you could also offer free or discounted professional help to employees you're concerned about.