How to create a strong organisational culture in your remote company
21 June 2019
Is culture just a buzzword?
Organisational culture and its importance has been heavily discussed when talking about onboarding programs, retention of employees, productivity, team building, etc.
For years Google has been recognized as a company with organisational culture worth learning from. In this article by Forbes, different employees share some of the reasons they are happy in the workplace: included in the list are the alignment between the employees’ wants and needs, shared values in the organisation and a fun work environment. We decided to take a look at Zapier, the co-founder of which we have had the pleasure to talk to before. In the company, they are a team of 200+ people from more than 15 different countries and the work is done entirely on remote basis. With regards to their culture, they turn our attention to the fact that building one in a remote organisation is not without its challenges but is crucial to one’s company. They value building trust with your employees, seeking alignment between the values of the organisation and these of the employees, as well as communicating the importance of “getting things done”. Evidently, although the method one would use to build a culture would differ between an on-site and remote organisation, the culture itself is not at all that different.
Corporate culture is the only sustainable competitive advantage that is completely within the control of the entrepreneur.”
David Cummings, Co-Founder, Pardot
With that being said, the discussion in today’s blog centers around:
How to go about building a culture in your own remote organisation
The importance of feedback
Feedback is certainly important in any organisation. However, when you manage a remote team, there should be even more emphasis put on a two-way communication. By far the best way to make your employees feel valued and happy at their job is to openly communicate with them. Feedback can sometimes be criticism if such is needed, but it is important that some emphasis is put on suggestions and praise of one’s work so that an open discussion is created from the beginning.
We have discussed the importance of creating a routine for your employees before. Some of the routines we follow are video chat multiple times a day in order to ensure everyone knows what they are supposed to be doing at all times, using different tools to save and deliver information to one another, thus also creating a sense of accountability. As mentioned above, both Google and Zapier try to establish an environment built on trust among their employees. Having regular communication with them while still giving them the flexibility and freedom to do their tasks on their own time, is a sure way to go about achieving trust and transparency.
Get to know who you are working with and create goals together
Since remote teammates work from different places and not in person, it can be a challenge to get to know each other and function as a team. As a manager, it is important to be aware of that and to facilitate more personal communication with your employees, by for example, creating different channels in Slack or scheduling a call once a week dedicated to discussing sports or hobbies people share with each other. This kind of communication is known as the watercooler effect. In a few emerging studies, there has been proven that more cohesion between teams (which strengthens with better personal relationships) unsurprisingly is connected to increased productivity. Stemming from that, communication of the overall company goals as well as team and personal goals for the employees is another way to make everyone feel included.
In-person meetings in a remote company
Even though your company might be entirely remote, it is a good idea to consider hosting a retreat once or twice a year for your employees so they can meet in person and participate in activities together. Such company events will also help strengthen the relationships between the different teams. In addition, the planning stages of such retreats will also be a good opportunity for people to discuss ideas and make suggestions on the itinerary, thus giving them a shared interest outside of work. With regards to new employees for example, hosting an onboarding on-site week might also be something to consider.
In conclusion, organisational culture is evident in any company, and it should be built and nurtured carefully especially in remote organisations. As Brian Kristofek, the president and CEO of Upshot says:
“Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and being a great company”.
I hope you are enjoying our content. Send us an email if you have any questions on the topic or if you’d like to share your tips on how to sustain organisational culture in a remote company.
Written by Trayana Milcheva. I am the newest addition to the RemoteMore team. I became interested in remote work during my HR studies and am pleased to have the opportunity to work with such aspiring young entrepreneurs.