How to Build a Strong Company Culture with a Remote Team During COVID-19

Building an influential company culture is a prevalent topic right now as many teams navigate working from home due to COVID-19. While it’s been challenging for businesses to adjust, we may be working remotely for a while longer, and many teams are now tasked with ensuring all members, old and new, feel connected. 

It’s essential that team members who work remotely feel as though they belong on the team. Their behaviors and beliefs should align with their employer’s values and culture–vital for both job-hunters and employers.

Most businesses realize the importance of hiring someone who fits in well with their company culture. Employees who are a good cultural fit are more likely to be satisfied, perform better and stay longer.

Poor cultural fit, however, can lead to employee turnover, potentially costing an organization between 50 and 60 percent of the former employee’s annual salary, according to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM)

Before a hiring team can assess whether or not a potential hire is a cultural fit, they first need to invest the time and resources to develop a strong company culture. While doing this with a remote team can be tricky, it doesn’t have to be complicated.

Here are a few tips on how companies can build a culture with a remote team.


Establish Company Values

When building a company culture from the top, businesses can have trouble knowing where to begin. However, having a set of values can help direct and shape the company culture. 

The entire team should reflect on what’s important to them and create a set of core values of which they can measure their organization. 

Some examples might include integrity, accountability, passion and other core company beliefs. It’s crucial to choose values that are authentic and sustainable, and reflect where the company culture is going.

It’s also vital that remote team members don’t “set and forget” their values. Instead, they should use them in everyday interactions and decision-making.


Communicate the Company Culture

Remote teams often have little to no facetime (other than video chat), which can make it difficult for team members to grasp the company culture firmly. Employers, however, can articulate the company culture to all team members with a clear, well-written document.

The document, or culture deck, should include expectations, how to measure performance and how to assess potential hires for cultural fit. Companies can get inspiration from the culture decks and documents of other businesses with cultures they admire. 

A strong culture deck is an effective way to give remote employees insight into the company’s values, mission, vision and purpose. It can also help employers stand out from their competitors in order to attract and recruit top talent.


Use Technology to Encourage Fun Interactions

Remote teams may not have a physical office, but companies can use technology to create a similar virtual space. For instance, messenger tools like Slack and Flock allow team members to engage in fun employee polls and channels where they can discuss anything from books and movies to favorite shows and music. 

Using tools like these, companies can encourage interaction and foster a sense of shared culture among remote team members.


Welcome New Hires in Front of the Team

Most companies would take a moment to welcome a new hire in front of the group, and businesses with remote teams should be no exception. Instead of communicating the news in person, they can easily use email or a messaging app.

For example, companies can ask new hires interesting questions and share the answers to the entire team, accompanied by a warm welcome. In addition to the latest team member’s name and role, the welcome message may include information about their previous work history, location, pets, hobbies and any other details.

It’s also a good idea to encourage the rest of the team to welcome new employees when they have the chance.


Prioritize Regular Meetings

Regular meetings are vital for companies with remote teams. If possible, managers or team leaders should set aside time to meet one-on-one with key team members weekly. This allows them to listen to their challenges, take notes and communicate the company culture.

Organizations need to set aside time for team-wide chats regularly. During these chats, groups can cover ongoing projects, discuss any lessons learned, ask for feedback and share any news. Doing this can help make teams more cohesive and boost motivation.

For remote teams, it’s even more critical to be able to put a name and face together. Companies should consider holding meetings via video conferencing so everyone can see each other and observe body language during the conversation.

Cultural fit is essential for all businesses, especially those with remote teams. And while building a strong company culture with a remote team can be tricky at times, it doesn’t have to be a stressful undertaking. By investing the time and effort, companies can build a culture that unites their team while attracting and retaining top talent.

Albizu Garcia is co-founder and CEO of Gain, a marketing technology company that automates social media and content publishing workflow for agencies and social media managers, their clients and anyone working in teams.

  • Originally published April 20, 2020