How to build a strong corporate culture when your company is remote

Whether your company was an early (which is to say, pre-pandemic) adopter of a remote-friendly work scheme, or you’re among those who have just now gotten into the groove of working from home, one thing remains true: Building a great corporate culture is crucial to your success. 


The past decade has seen the term “corporate culture” take on more importance than ever before, with large companies such as Google and Facebook spearheading the transformation of what a 21st-century office looks like. But the fact is, though nap rooms and ping-pong tables were seen as innovative not too long ago, they’ve now proven to be insufficient in the quest to create a culture in which everyone feels motivated to do their best work. When you get down to it, what truly matters is the core values your company has espoused, and whether you’re putting in the necessary effort to assert them. 


The days of physically and mentally clocking in and out of an office are long gone, and people now want to feel like their work has a deeper meaning, one that is tied to their own values and worldview. This is where your recruiting process comes in: In order to have a team that works well together, you should ensure that all newcomers share an enthusiasm for your mission. Once they’re in, a positive culture will keep productivity (and employee retention!) high. 


And though this concept may seem simple enough, now that the new frontier of working from home has arrived, many find themselves wondering: How can a company that is largely remote position itself as a great place to work? The go-to extras you can offer in a shared space will no longer apply, but maybe that’s a good thing. Having to focus on substance rather than flashy perks should ultimately lead to a more genuine approach. Below, some things to consider when getting creative about building an attractive corporate culture for your remote team: 


Establish Trust


Any company which works under a partial or full work-from-home scheme should have no issue stating that they fully trust their employees to get their jobs done. Be wary of micromanaging, which not only sends a signal to your team that you lack confidence in their ability to work without surveillance, it’s also a waste of time you could devote to bigger-picture matters (as a manager should). 


Invest in Management


Few of us are born knowing how to effectively lead all types of people, but that’s okay. You can invest in your managers by keeping an honest and open conversation going about how they’re approaching their duties. Support them by giving them access to workshops and seminars focused on leadership techniques, or better yet, establish a mediator who can help streamline the communication between managers and their remote teams. 


Use Technology to your Advantage


The reason working from home has been growing in ubiquity for the past decade is simple: Technology has enabled us to unlock its many benefits. With video conference software becoming more sophisticated by the year, and the increased accessibility of high-speed internet, many companies are left with little reason to stick to shared office models. Learn to rely heavily on technology when managing your remote workers, but don’t abuse it, either. Establish clear guidelines for using whatever software you choose to check in on your team, and make sure to give everyone enough time to snugly fit any calls into their calendars. 


Practice Empathy


To expand on the previous point, it’s important that you keep in mind that you’re dealing with human beings behind the computer screen. Let your team know what is expected of them while also ensuring they feel they can communicate any troubles they’re facing. A positive corporate culture is one in which everyone feels valued, supported, understood and, ultimately, happy. And this isn’t achieved just for the sake of it — it’s been shown that happy employees are far more productive and efficient than disgruntled ones


Be Hands-On About Taking Care of your Remote Team


If you wouldn’t ask your employees to furnish their workspace in an office, why would you do it just because they’re working from home? Ergonomic work equipment was invented for a reason: It’s simply not comfortable — or healthy — for someone to spend hours on end sitting in an unsuitable workspace. By taking initiative and offering solutions to your remote workers before they have to ask, you’re showing them that you care about their well-being and stand by your company’s values. 


Allow Flexibility 


One of the greatest perks you can offer your employees who work from home is workday flexibility, and because this is something that no office space can replicate, you should make sure to take full advantage of it! Make it clear that everyone is not only allowed, but encouraged, to follow the schedule that works best for them. At the end of the day, you should be after results, not control. Trust your team to deliver, while also taking the breaks they need to tend to other matters. 


Remember Remote Doesn’t Mean ‘Apart’


Though it’s possible many of your remote workers won’t meet face-to-face, it’s important that they feel connected beyond the work-related tasks they share. Many companies periodically bring in special coaches to guide their workers through team-building activities (which can be serious or playful, depending on what type of corporate culture you’re after), and remote teams should be no exception. Whether it be in person or through a screen, it’s easier to approach and work with people who you feel connected to on a human level. Ideally, you should bring in a consultant specialized in bonding dynamics to help you set up a plan based on your company’s particular set of values, but don’t be afraid to get creative with your own ideas, it always helps when the team sees that leaders are getting directly involved with these activities.  


Have a Story


We’ll keep this one short and sweet: Whatever your story is, make sure that you know it, and that everyone in the company knows it, too. Wherever they may be working from, your team should feel like they’re an essential part of something larger, so write down your values and mission, have your manifesto down, and live them with conviction. 


Check out how GroWrk can help you build a great corporate culture by taking care of your team, here.