In the wake of Covid-19, companies worldwide underwent a laudable effort to shift their working practices and accommodate remote work. This showed the global economy what can be achieved with remote work, and it’s a shift likely to affect our market for decades to come.
But there’s one area which didn’t adapt properly to the new reality — company culture. Maintaining a strong company culture remotely is difficult, since you can’t rely on face to face communication, workplace gatherings, and a lot of other elements which made a company culture stronger.
But it’s not impossible, so today let’s talk about how you can create a strong company culture remotely.
What Is A Strong Company Culture?
A company culture is a set of values, objectives and practices that define a company. It’s not something that can be covered entirely in a few words, since it encompasses a lot of what your company does. A default to data, a relaxed working environment, and the quest for efficiency can all be part of the same company culture. But so can an emphasis on creative work, a preference for discipline and a uniform.
Company culture is why your company exists. And who it is.
And you can take a lot of measures to reinforce a culture, even remotely.
Let’s talk about those.
How To Build A Company Culture Remotely
We’re going to start with a disclaimer here. A lot of what will be covered in this section is simply a guide on how to create a company culture in any situation. However, we’ll make sure to add pointers and ideas of how everything can be implemented accordingly, and we’ll mention companies with a strong, remote culture that pre-exists the CoVid Pandemic.
Formulate And Stick To Your Values
The first step in maintaining a strong company culture remotely is formulating the core values that you want a company culture to align to. If you already have a well-established company, with employees working for you, you shouldn’t just think about these values yourself.
It should be a collective effort, involving everyone with a stake in the company to find the values that really define you. It’s actually a really good exercise, because aside from core values that you want to stick to, you could also identify bad habits or principles that you adhere to, and get rid of them.
If you’re running a one-man show, but plan to expand in the future, do your best to find the values that really define you. You shouldn’t be afraid to get inspired from companies in the same market as you, but make sure you twist core values to represent the vision you want to come true for your company.
For an example, let’s talk about Zapier. They’re a remote-only company, operating out of the US, and their values are extremely important for everyone working with, or at Zapier. Their first core principle is empathy, and you’ll notice a general default to letting humans… be human, at Zapier.
Out of this core principle of empathy, a few practices are drawn:
- Zapier employees don’t have to work a specific amount of hours each day. They just work as much as it takes to get the job done.
- Zapier employees have unlimited vacation time.
- Zapier customer support agents focus on your problem and give it their all to be empathic and understanding
- Zapier has more core values they rely on, and you can read more about their culture and values here.
Your company values and culture should follow suit. They should be as specific, actionable and clearly outlined as those. You can even go a step further and create internal documents detailing these values, as well as post them publicly on your site, or at least in hiring content, so that potential team members can see if they’re a fit for your company.
Set Company Culture Goals
Once you have a clear picture of your values, and ideal culture, you should set clear goals, both for your company, and for adopting a company culture. This is extremely important in a remote setting, because you want everyone to understand how they can play a part in embodying the culture you want for your company.
On top, having clear goals for how to proceed towards any objective is always a good idea. If you want to learn more about this process, read our article on how to create a company culture and objectives.
Lastly, after you set clear goals and core values, it’s time to make sure everyone is on board with them. Have clear, shareable documents detailing the principles you’ve been working on and make sure everyone on your team reads them.
Unfortunately, that might not be enough. When everyone’s at the office, it’s easy to see a culture flourishing and thriving on its own. Remotely, things might be a bit more difficult to pull off, because a strong company culture relies on an active community to support it. WIth everyone isolated, that’s a bit harder to come to pass.
But not impossible. You can recreate the same feeling online, by focusing on communicating efficiently. A company wide communication system like Slack will go a long way in helping you achieve that, but it won’t be enough.
What we recommend is hosting daily huddles with your team to check out on their progress and interact naturally. We know, this might be a bit harder to pull off during stressful times, and it’ll probably be best to postpone it sometimes.
But commit to it, or any other form of daily check-up. For example, you can have a shared document where everyone summarizes their day.
Any of these options will make it easier for your culture to catch roots.
Maintaining a strong company culture remotely is not impossible, but it might be a bit harder than it was to do it live. We recommend detailing the core values and objectives of your company, then involving everyone to join in and help you uphold them.
What do you think? How do you manage to maintain a company culture while working remotely?