Building an effective company culture when working remotely
The corporate culture is the basis for a successful company growth. And by corporate culture we mean much more than a ping-pong table in the coffee room, a few discounts for the next purchase or a free breakfast when the turnover has been good. Culture encompasses values, norms, customs and the entire corporate network and is the heart that keeps the company alive. Only if the entire team represents the company values equally, it will succeed in pulling together in the same direction.
But how does it look like in companies that are set up location independent? How do you maintain the company culture if the employees are scattered and work from different locations? Is this even possible? Or is the team spirit lost?
In this article, we explain how an intensive company culture can be established in remote work, to maintain the corporate feeling and team spirit regardless of location.
Communication as a basis
We have often emphasized that effective communication is absolutely crucial. Without good communication, even the best company culture will quickly fall apart. It is important to create a working atmosphere in which the employee can freely express his opinion and has the opportunity to ask questions at any time. Therefore, choose communication tools that are in harmony with your team and the culture you are pursuing, as well as allowing a quick exchange of information. The more relaxed the internal communication is, the more motivated each individual employee will be to get involved.
Many managers fear that too many private chats will make the team unproductive or unprofessional. And this is exactly the problem. Especially in remote work it is very important to create a little space for private conversations to build interpersonal relationships. Chatting, laughing, maybe a little gossip here and there, irony and anti jokes – these are the things that characterize the traditional office environment.
It’s even called the “Watercooler Effect” – the phenomenon of employees gathering and talking around the water cooler in the office. Therefore the water cooler has become a symbol for social interaction and social contacts at the workplace. And this “water dispenser” should not be missed in the home office either.
Create chats or threats exclusively for personal, “fun” or “random” topics. A colleague has had a funny mishap? We’d love to hear that! Have you come across some inspiring words that would benefit the entire team? Share it! Despite all the seriousness and responsibility for the job, a little humour, some memes and bedtime stories make us all more humane and connect us on a personal level. Also plan some time for a little small talk during a video call before you dive into serious business.
Actively promote team building
In the office, there are many opportunities to get together as a team on a private level and build friendships with colleagues. Team building should not be neglected in the home office either. There are various possibilities for this:
Joint online activities: In order to give employees the opportunity to exchange ideas in their free time, activities can be planned and carried out online. For example, a virtual film evening can be organised by streaming a film via Twitch and the team can exchange ideas via group chat.
Virtual closing time: Another possibility to get to know the team better and to strengthen the relationships are virtual evenings off. Here the whole team meets via video conference app and exchanges ideas in a relaxed atmosphere over a beer.
Retreat: Even though there are many different ways to maintain social contact online, at some point we will all yearn for human contact. For this reason, annual or semi-annual company retreats are essential. The whole company meets for a week, for example, and physically works and lives in the same place. This way you get to know each other, make friends and go back to your home office strengthened and motivated. Company Retreats also have a great tradition at Cleverclip and every year we meet again together somewhere in the world.
Build personal relationships
Getting to know your own team at least partially on a personal level is a basic requirement for more effective cooperation. If you sit next to a colleague in the office every day, you can get an overview of the person and his or her character traits in no time. Since this is not the case in the home office, you should try to build a team that holds together on a personal level.
New employees can, for example, shoot a short introduction video and also talk about private interests and hobbies. Ideally, you should motivate the team to organize personal meetings with the new team members so that everyone has the chance to exchange ideas briefly.
But also with the existing team it is important to maintain regular contact. Most of the time you tend to only talk to colleagues from your own department. Marketing is not interested in what is going on in Accounting. And the “number crunchers” don’t want to hear anything from the ad people. As a manager, you should therefore always bring all departments together for a virtual meeting, so that everyone has the chance to get to know the person behind the job title.
Creating transparency and trust
The real secret recipe for a truly effective company culture is trust. Only when every employee can rely on mutual help and trust his or her colleague 100%, we can actually create the desired working atmosphere. Then it no longer matters what values are written on a piece of paper or whether there is a ping-pong table in the office. Trust and good chemistry between the individual employees create the strongest bond we can think of.
Especially with a remote team it is therefore important to create maximum transparency, to keep the team informed about updates and important decisions that could affect each individual employee as well as the entire company.
Conclusion: Company Culture with your remote team
Creating an effective corporate culture in the home office is definitely a challenge and requires a lot of personal commitment and motivation. But with the right internal communication, company culture and team spirit are just as possible in the remote office as in the traditional office. If not even better … . Why? I think whoever manages to build up a sense of community and company spirit despite the distance between the employees, has formed a true team, which, even in difficult situations, works together towards the company goal.
The quote from the “Remote” authors Jason Fried and David Hansson, hits the nail on the head: “You don’t need everyone physically together to create a strong culture. The best cultures derive from actions people actually take.”
And at this point I would like to thank all my crazy colleagues at Cleverclip, who prove that the team spirit lives on despite great distance.