Ten practical ways to build company culture with remote employees

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Ten practical ways to build company culture with remote employees

Building the right company culture is essential for any business looking to attract top talent and succeed in today's world. However, with the rise of remote work and the global shortage of critical skills, companies face the challenge of building and maintaining their culture with an increasingly geographically dispersed workforce. But fear not! Building company culture with remote workers is possible. At RecruitMyMom, we have built our company culture for over ten years with an entirely remote workforce. Based on our experience, we've put together ten practical ways to demonstrate how we have done it.


1. Onboard your remote workers well

Onboarding remote workers is crucial in building an engaged and productive team. While the process may seem similar to onboarding in-person employees, some key differences must be considered. Like any other employee, a remote worker must be immersed in your company culture from the outset.

Firstly, it is vital to ensure that your remote workers have all the necessary equipment and resources to carry out their work effectively. Equipment includes up-to-date laptops, software licenses, and access to company systems and communication tools, setting the tone for professionalism and inclusion. Next, help them if needed to set up a home office.

Give clear instructions on how communication takes place within the team. For example, will you use email or other tools for daily updates? Do you do video or telephone calls for weekly check-ins? Do you have a culture of video on or off? Whatsapp for quick messages? Whatever the chosen mode of communication, ensure everyone knows what it is and how to utilise it best. In-office hires should use these same communication tools.

Set up regular one-on-one meetings between remote hires and their manager to ensure they feel cared for and included in the company. These meetings will cover everything from job expectations and performance goals to any questions or concerns the employee may have.

In addition, provide them access to the company training materials (such as video tutorials or written guides) to help new hires get up-to-speed quickly. Fast learners will work through the training materials themselves. This type of content is particularly beneficial when learning company-specific tools or processes.

By properly onboarding your remote workers from day one, you'll set the tone of the company culture and set them up for success while ensuring they feel welcome and valued as team members. At RecruitMyMom, we have an onboarding checklist to ensure everything is complete for the employee before their start date. This includes a welcome pack delivered to their place of work within days of starting. We involve as many existing team members as possible in the onboarding training so that our new employees get to know each other.


2. Be intentional about creating human connections to build company culture

Creating human connections is one of the biggest challenges in building company culture with remote workers. When you're not seeing each other face to face every day, it's easy for team members to feel isolated and disconnected. That's why intentionally creating opportunities for human connection and interaction is essential.

We do this by setting up regular virtual coffee meetups with at most 3-4 team members. The rule is that you can talk about anything other than work to help everyone get to know each other better, helping build trust and rapport among people, which is critical for effective collaboration. In addition, these meetups reinforce company culture as the older employees infuse the company culture into the newer hires.

We encourage our team members to share family celebrations, photos or stories about their lives outside of work on the company Whatsapp group chat. For example, when someone's child wins a prize at school or graduates from university, it is posted on our group for everyone to celebrate.

Ensure you make time for one-on-one conversations between managers and individual team members. Regular check-ins can help employees feel heard, valued, and supported – even when they're working remotely.

Building a sense of camaraderie and connection among remote workers is crucial in establishing a good company culture. As mentioned, creating opportunities for non-work-related meetups goes a long way to building company culture with remote teams.

These informal gatherings allow team members to interact and get to know each other on a personal level, which helps build trust and familiarity. In addition, it provides an avenue for employees struggling with feelings of isolation or loneliness to connect and bond with others with similar interests or is at a similar life stage, for example, a new parent or someone with a matching sports interest.

Our Coffee Connect sessions are compulsory as it's too easy to allow work to take over the importance of building human connection and company culture. We ensure they are scheduled at a convenient time of the day and month to avoid being too disruptive. You can make yours optional so as not to add pressure on top of the regular workload.

Building human connections requires intentionality and effort from everyone but is primarily driven by the more senior people in a team. By prioritising relationship-building alongside work tasks, remote teams will foster a strong sense of community and shared purpose – even when geographically they are continents apart.


3. Ensure senior leaders are visible and contactable

When building company culture with remote workers, senior leaders must be visible and accessible by being present in virtual meetings, responding promptly to emails or messages, and speaking to employees via video or telephone.

Being available allows senior leaders to set the tone for open communication within the team. In addition, this relaxed communication style demonstrates a commitment to creating a positive work environment, which is crucial when working remotely.

One way to ensure visibility is by scheduling regular check-ins between senior leaders and remote team members. These check-ins don't have to be formal; they could be a quick chat over a video call or messaging app.

In our company, senior leaders must participate in non-work related activities with the team.

Ensuring senior leadership is visible and approachable sends a message that everyone on the team matters - no matter where they are geographically. In addition, it demonstrates a lot about your company culture.

Read: Tips on leading a remote team well.


4. Articulate your company culture to remote employees

Articulating your company culture in words is crucial in building a solid foundation for remote teams. With clear definitions of core values and behaviours, it's easier to maintain consistency across time zones and geographical locations.

Start by communicating what makes your company unique. What are your company values and why. Next, define the specific mission or vision that everyone is aligned to. Finally, what behaviours do you expect from your team?

Ensure everyone understands why the culture is worth preserving - not just for the business's success but also for creating an environment where people feel a sense of belonging and inclusion.

Remember that defining your culture is an ongoing process. It's something that must be revisited periodically as the organisation evolves.

At RecruitMyMom we have a document that explains our company culture. This is shared with recruits.


5. The value of having your camera on in video meetings

Having your camera on during video meetings may seem like a small detail, but it can significantly impact building company culture with remote workers. When you can see the faces of your colleagues, and they can see yours, it creates a sense of human connection.

Not only does having your camera on help build stronger relationships with coworkers, but it helps to increase focus and engagement during the meeting. When everyone knows they are visible, they are less likely to multitask or become distracted by other things.

Of course, there may be some instances where turning off the camera is necessary (such as if you have a poor internet connection), but try to keep it on whenever possible. In addition to enhancing communication among teammates during video calls, having cameras turned on prevents miscommunication in the absence of body language and other cues.

So, keep those cameras on the next time you log into a virtual meeting!


6. Thank and recognise people who add to the company culture

One of the most critical aspects of building a strong company culture with remote workers is recognising and thanking those who uphold it. Employees who feel valued and appreciated are likelier to repeat the positive action for which they are thanked.

This recognition can take many forms, from public shout-outs during team meetings or newsletters to personalised messages or surprise flowers and gifts. The key is ensuring employees feel seen and appreciated for their unique contributions.

Recognition doesn't need to be tied solely to significant achievements or successes. Small acts of kindness or going above and beyond to support colleagues and culture can also be recognised and celebrated.

By taking the time to recognise those who add value to your company culture, you'll boost morale and foster a sense of community among your remote team members.


7. Allow team members to tell their story

Allowing team members to tell their stories is a powerful tool for building connections within a remote team. By sharing personal experiences and perspectives, employees can form deeper bonds with one another and feel more invested in the company culture.

Encourage team members to share stories about their backgrounds, significant milestones, hobbies, or interests outside work. In addition to fostering stronger relationships among colleagues, storytelling promotes empathy and understanding within the team. When individuals share their unique experiences, it allows others to see things from another's perspective and appreciate diversity in all its forms.

By allowing each remote team member to "tell their story," you're helping them feel heard and laying the foundation for a solid, supportive company culture that values authenticity and connection.


8. Create fun rituals that you do together as a team

At RecruitMyMom, we have regular fun rituals that we do together. Friday Fun starts early on a Friday morning, and one employee is nominated to come up with something that every team member must share in. Ideas can be: what's your favourite girl-power song? Send a picture of yourself at your high school dance, send a picture of you with your baby (fur or otherwise), what's your best Dad-joke etc.

We ring a bell on Whatsapp whenever a person is hired and a life is changed, reinforcing our values and culture of touching lives and making a positive impact.

Leaders must encourage participation but refrain from forcing it. Team members should feel free to opt-in or out as they please so they don't feel pressured into doing something uncomfortable. Also, be mindful of personal cultural nuances when working globally.


9. Culture comes from the top, so hire managers that embody the culture you want to create

When building company culture with remote workers, having managers embody and promote the culture you want to develop is vital. These managers will set the tone for the rest of the team. Hence, they must fully understand and believe in your organisational culture, values and mission.

Hiring managers who are a good fit for your company culture is not just about their skills or experience but also their values, attitudes, management style and personality. In addition, you want someone who shares your vision and mission and can inspire others to do the same.

When interviewing potential managers, ask how they would promote collaboration and company culture within a remote team environment. Look for evidence of past successes or examples of creative solutions they have implemented in previous roles. Skilled mothers make excellent managers of remote teams. They are high on inclusivity, empathy and collaboration - essential for remote teams to work well together.

Remember that hiring people based on cultural fit doesn't mean looking for clones - diversity is still important. But by choosing candidates with values aligned with those of your organisation, you're more likely to create a cohesive team where everyone feels like they belong and are working towards common goals.


10. Be mindful of how personal culture impacts company culture

As remote work becomes increasingly popular, companies must understand how personal culture impacts company culture. Each individual brings unique values, beliefs and attitudes into the workplace, which can complement or clash with the company culture.

Employers must be mindful of how different cultural backgrounds and experiences may affect communication and collaboration among team members. For example, some cultures may value direct communication, while others prefer indirect communication to avoid confrontation.

Watch this video on how personal culture can impact organisational culture.

Personal values such as work-life integration can also impact an employee's job satisfaction. If a company culture promotes overworking without regard for personal time, employees from cultures prioritising family or leisure time may feel abused and become disgruntled.

Employers should create a diverse and inclusive environment where all team members feel heard and respected regardless of their background. This includes providing opportunities for open dialogue about cultural differences and, where possible, implementing policies that accommodate different cultural needs.

By being aware of how personal culture affects company culture, employers can foster a positive working environment where the diversity quotient can be tapped into without damaging company culture.

Maintaining company culture with remote workers is possible.

Building a company culture with remote workers is relatively easy and essential for the success of any business looking to develop a future-fit team. Companies can create a strong sense of community and belonging among their remote teams with the right approach and mindset. By onboarding well, creating human connections intentionally, articulating your culture in words, having regular fun rituals and hiring managers that embody the culture you want to maintain, you can establish a powerful team that works together seamlessly regardless of location. RecruitMyMom is testimony to this.

At RecruitMyMom, we have an extensive database of skilled candidates that work in the office in South Africa or remotely for our global clients. If you want to expand your global workforce, and diversity is essential, read about why South Africa is a brilliant place to source remote workers. We work with companies from Mauritius, the USA, Canada, Europe, Australia and New Zealand, to name a few.

Contact us for more information.

Learn more about hiring remote freelancers, Independent Contractors and Virtual Assistants.

The original article was written by Phillipa geard and published on LinkedIn. View it here.