How to Build a Company Culture in a Remote Work Environment

For those of you who don’t know, Little Jack Marketing embraces a workshifting environment—our entire team works remotely, and has since the first day we started. The majority of our team is in Chicago but we have (and have had members) in Budapest, Oregon, Croatia, Washington, Miami, Milwaukee, and Iowa.
There are many benefits to working remotely, such as increased flexibility, higher employee satisfaction, and savings on operating expenses that can then be passed on to the customer.
One of the challenges of working remotely is you can’t rely as heavily on company culture developing naturally. Company culture is one of the factors that can really improve employee experience, productivity, and retention. When working remotely, developing culture requires a bit more effort and planning, but it’s most definitely doable.
For companies that also have employees working remotely, here are some tips on creating and fostering company culture at their organization:

1. Create or refine your company values

Company culture frequently develops organically from the interactions between employees. When you’re not in the same place, it can be hard to even pinpoint what your company culture is.
Take out a piece of paper and do some brainstorming about your company’s culture. It should include not only what you aspire to be, but also what comes naturally to you (are you inherently casual? irreverent? conservative? trailblazing?)

2. Communicate your culture with your team

When you’ve solidified your company culture, it’s time to communicate it to your team. This can happen both explicitly, through sharing things like a mission statement with your staff, and implicitly, in the way you interact with others.
You’ll be surprised how quickly others pick up on environmental cues and follow suit, even when communication is entirely remote.

3. Tools allow for collaboration and fun

In an office environment, there are natural and spontaneous ways for your staff to collaborate and to have fun together, whether that’s popping into someone’s office to bounce an idea off them, cracking jokes before getting down to business at a team meeting, or playing a game of foosball in the general office area.
In a digital environment, it’s important to consider how your existing tools can be used to a similar end. Slack has been a lifesaver for us in this respect, because it allows our team to interact separately from the official workflow channels. This has helped us not only be able to bounce ideas off each other quickly, but also to have some fun while communicating (the /giphy random GIF generator is a personal team favorite for adding some personality to conversations).

4. Build a sense of shared ownership

In a remote workplace, as the company becomes more efficient, it’s easier to each person to work on their tasks and only contact others when handing a task off or needing input. But it’s also important to show employees the big picture and give them a sense of ownership over the company as a whole.
It’s a good idea to get everyone involved when big company news occur, or when an employee or team does a particularly good job on a project. While “meetings for meetings’ sake” are rapidly going out of fashion, at a company that operates remotely, a weekly team call has worked well for us to get everyone on the same page and involved.
Do you also work at a company that has remote employees? We want to hear about how your company culture contributes to that working environment. Get in touch with us on Facebook or Twitter!
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