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How can you build a company culture in a remote business?

What is company culture? It can be defined as the habits, rituals and behaviours that get established over time. It’s the ‘How we do things round here’. Get it right, and you’ll have highly engaged staff – and highly engaged staff means higher productivity.

However, the move to remote working will have disrupted those habits, rituals, and behaviours. While some ways of working – team meetings and one-to-ones will have transferred easily to online – others, such as those spontaneous, informal chats while waiting for the kettle to boil, will have changed or disappeared completely.

Managers and business leaders need to work doubly hard to maintain a good culture and keep everyone engaged – what else could you do instead? Here are some ideas to keep it going:

1.  Articulate your core values

It’s important to understand what your company culture actually is. Most businesses have a set of values that play into the culture, even if they’re not written down anywhere. Consider doing workshops with clients to define what their values are, what they mean and how they’re demonstrated, with a few examples of those behaviours in action. Once defined, write them down.

2.  Recruit and induct to your values

Once written down, your company values can become a useful reference tool, not only with current staff but also when recruiting new staff. Make sure new recruits match the company culture and talk them through your values as part of their onboarding process. It can be tough to keep this up when recruiting remotely but it’s essential to keep the values and culture in mind as you would if recruiting in person.

3.  Keep communicating the values

Good communication is key in maintaining good company culture. It helps everyone to be clear about what is expected of them in terms of behaviour – and what they get in return. Talk about successes in company meetings, recognise people when they do good work, share news or even value stories – when people have demonstrated the values in action. The CEO has a big part to play in recognising achievement or saying ‘thank you’ to staff during company meetings. It goes a long way.

4.  Show you care

One-to-one meetings with line managers might need to take a slightly different format. As well as setting goals, checking progress etc, it’s also an opportunity to check in on your staff’s wellbeing. People at home can get isolated, so it’s important to create opportunities for engagement. Create a ‘watercooler channel’ using whatever chat/video software your employees are conversant in, to start the kinds of conversations that might happen more spontaneously in an office environment.

5.  Bring remote and on-site staff together

Teams can become splintered if some are remote while others are on-site, so it’s important to keep them communicating. Hybrid meetings – with some members on-site and others remote – can make those dialling in feel at a disadvantage and less inclined to jump in with a comment. In these cases, it’s better to have meetings where all staff dial in so it feels like everyone is in the same place.

For those CEOs who feel their culture is slipping as remote working continues – don’t assume it’ll be fine once you’re back in the office. If you haven’t kept people fully engaged, you might find loyalties disappearing and people jumping ship at the earliest opportunity. But if your people still feel part of a team, feel valued and that their work is recognised, you might just find that strong culture puts you in a significantly stronger and more competitive place as we move into a new way of working.

Would you like help to rebuild your company culture and staff engagement? Call us on 020 3633 6830 to find out how we can help.

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