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Creating a culture in a remote working environment

These days, more and more companies have been forced to consider the remote working environment for their staff. As the world returns to a new normal, more and more companies have realised the benefits of remote working, and have adopted a fully remote, or partial remote working environment for their staff. Studies have revealed that remote working has proved more productive than working in an office for the majority of the workforce.


How to create a remote culture:

Creating a culture remotely will take a lot more effort than creating a culture in the office. You should already have in mind the culture you want to create, as well as how it will be done. Maintaining this culture will begin in your onboarding process of new hires, and be carried out through your team meetings, activities and communications.

Communication is key to maintaining the culture in a remote working environment.

8 Steps to build a remote culture

1. Develop trust between the company, employer, manager and employee

Diversity is identified by different characteristics in a group of people, which make each person unique. Having diversity in a workplace leads to a deeper understanding of each person employed by the company. Diversity celebrates and embraces the differences in each person, and contributes to a better working environment.

Diversity includes: race, ethnicity, gender, physical ability, religion, personality type, thinking strategies, learning styles, culture, knowledge and experience.

By creating diversity amongst these factors, nurturing them, and creating a safe positive workspace, diversity can be achieved.

2. Company values, mission and goals

Each employee, whether new or old, should be aware of the values, mission and goals of the company. The mission of the company should be clear, communicated regularly, and enforced by upper management. This reminds people that they are all working toward a goal together, creating a feeling of teamwork, even if they are working remotely. Once employees are all aware of the values of the company, culture can play a large role, leading to the success of the business.

A monthly update or survey can also be sent to the employee to establish how they are feeling, in their professional as well as personal capacity. This shows the employee that they are a priority to the company, as well as their physical and emotional well-being… (See blog on Diversity, Equality and Inclusion)

3. Value Onboarding time

When remote hiring, ensure that you are taking the time to ensure that the onboarding of the employee is supportive with the right resources. If a new employee is working full time remotely, keep in mind that onboarding might take a little longer.

A great way to start the onboarding process is by spending time with the employee introducing the company, the values and the core concepts of the company to the new hire.

Ensure that the new employee is aware of what they will cover in the onboarding by providing them with a daily planner, which includes meetings that they will be expected to attend too.

If there is an opportunity to onboard in groups, this would be ideal to create a community between the new hires, helping develop a culture between the employees. If onboarding in groups, appoint a lead person dedicated to the new employees that they can reach out to if they need to.

Just like you would in an office, introduce the new employee to the rest of the organisation. This can be done in a fun and creative way. Create fun questionnaires that the new employee should complete, and send them to the team, along with company-specific information about the new team member (role in the company, company email and contact details).

Encourage one-on-one meetings with existing team members for the new hire to get involved, or smaller team meetings where the new hire gets to meet a few people at a time. For larger organisations, this can be overwhelming for the new employee.

4. Establish daily or weekly team or company rituals

When working remotely, it is important to do regular check-ins, daily team meetings, and perhaps bi-monthly or monthly company meetings. This allows the new hires as well as existing hires to meet and greet, to chat if these meetings are informal, or for the management to check in with employees, or update the employees on the company’s progress and targets moving forward.

Informal team meetings can include coffee dates together, breakfast dates or even happy hours on a Friday afternoon virtually, or planned team building activities. These meetings can also be themed to create some fun too. It is suggested that team leaders and management encourage employees to make use of their cameras and show their faces during meetings.

Set up a time for kitchen conversations, where there is no chat of work or production, but merely more informal communication. Regularly, encourage upper management to get involved in these too, the same way it would more than likely happen in the office.

5. Set time aside for regular one-on-ones

Managers and leaders need to check in regularly with new as well as existing employees, on a one-on-one basis. This allows the employee to build a relationship with management so that they do not feel like a robot sitting in another location.

This can also be used as an opportunity to gather feedback from the employee about how they are progressing, in a personal capacity, as well as in the company, their feelings on the company’s approach to the working environment and use this as an opportunity to reflect and make adjustments. This promotes transparency within the company and encourages an environment where every employee feels they are contributing.

This should not only be done during the onboarding process but also once the employee has settled into their position

6. Create opportunities for growth within the company

It is important to create the opportunity for growth within the company. This will build trust within the employees, as well as build a platform for learning and growing.

Individual growth, as well as group growth, should be encouraged, and this can be done through peer-to-peer training, regular performance reviews, short term and long-term goal setting, and training workshops.

7. Create the platforms of communication

As noted, a remote organisation cannot function without communication, it is the key factor, and could make or break the remote culture of a company. When working remotely, it is important to establish channels of communication with employees, and this encourages open communication between employers and employees.

Anything of high importance should always be shared via in-company email. Daily discussions can be shared via an update chat on any instant messaging platform. Should it be of high priority, it should also be shared via email.

A casual group chat should also be created, encouraging employees to communicate with each other during the day- this can be thought of as the kitchen chat, or the water cooler chat. Create fun activities on this chat too, like challenges for the day, the most random news headline of the day, and even a theme for the day.

A guide should be shared with all employees on the tools used for communication, the platforms they should be using when wanting to communicate, and how it should be done in order of importance.

It is also important that all employees stay online during working hours to avoid any miscommunication or lost messages. These can be left on all day, and the employee will receive notifications should a message be sent, keeping the doors of communication open.

New hires should be added to group platforms as soon as possible so that they feel included in any communication and changes within the organisation.

8. Prioritise health and well being

It is assumed that employees that work in a remote environment have an ideal work-life balance. However, this can commonly be mistaken. Remote employees may benefit from skipping the daily hustle and bustle of traffic, but it is easy to slip into habits of working overtime, and not knowing when to switch off.

Employees can feel if they are ill or wanting to take leave days, that they could be shy to request it, as they are working from a home environment anyway. This can lead to the lack of healthy choices and feeling overworked.

By making health and wellness a priority shows the employee that the organisations’ concern is their wellbeing, and not just based on productivity. Creating an employer/employee health check in regularly is a great place to start. Discuss any challenges the employee might be experiencing, discuss plans for leave, and discuss how the employee is making time for relaxation during the week. It is also a good idea for the company to monitor the employees’ working hours and raise the flag when they see an employee is putting in a lot of time to working and less time for themselves during the day. This can also demonstrate recognition of hard work.

Sending out a care package from the organisation on occasion can also help the employee feel part of the companies’ culture on wellbeing and self-care. It shows the organisation values them as employees too.

In conclusion, remote working has benefits on employee productivity and has seen a remarkable increase. This environment has improved employee satisfaction, reduced absences, expanded the talent pool, and saved the employee money, leading to increased employee happiness and wellbeing.

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