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Remote Employees: How to Maintain Strong Employee Culture

Jul 19, 2023 | Culture, Remote Work

Embracing remote work offers several critical advantages for your business, including allowing you to hire a more diverse group of remote employees with various backgrounds and geographic locations. Not only does that mean a wider talent pool, but it can also mean improved employee satisfaction and a stronger sense of connection to your job, leading to lower employee turnover.

An illustration of four remote employees working from different parts of the world map.

As your remote employee pool increases, however, you may find yourself dealing with some potential challenges, including maintaining your company culture despite staffing employees in countries around the world. You may have employees in different time zones who speak multiple languages and with many key cultural differences. Establishing a solid working environment and positive company culture for all of them requires full commitment and investment on the company’s part.

An illustration showing a group of six people in a video call displayed on a computer screen.

1. Clearly Define Your Employer Values

As a company, you have key values that set you apart. Some of those values are aimed at your target audience. For example, you may focus heavily on environmentally-friendly products and practices, competitive pricing, or high levels of customer satisfaction. However, your employer values are just as important. As a company, what do you find vital? What do you prioritize? Consider values like:

  • Communication and collaboration
  • Innovation
  • Accountability
  • Continuous growth and improvement for employees and the company as a whole
  • Sustainability
  • Trust

Once you have clearly defined your employer values, consider how your company embodies those values.

Note Why They Are Important

Take the time to note why those values are highly critical for your organization. Why is it that your organization puts those values at the forefront? For example, if sustainability is at the heart of your values, you might want to note that your company values the environment and wants to create a positive change for the next generation. If communication is crucial, especially for a remote workforce, you may want to explain that your company values connection and collaboration.

Lay Out How You Put Your Values Into Practice

As part of your employer values, determine how you put those values into practice. Sometimes you may, as a company, note that you value something but realize that you aren’t actively showing it. For example, if innovation is a top priority, but you do not give employees opportunities to share their ideas and their work or the resources they need to put those ideas into practice, you may find that innovation stalls. Clearly show how your company practices its values and what employees should expect as they connect with you.

An illustration of two remote employees wearing different attires and working in different setups. One woman is working in her dining room while the other woman is in an office-like room.

2. Enhance Communication for Your Company and Its Remote Employees

Communication is the key to maintaining company culture in a remote environment. Communication happens on many levels: between employees, from management to lower-level employees, and from those lower-level employees to executives and management. Make sure you have vital mechanisms in place that encourage communication.

Implement Company Chat Platforms

Company chat platforms like Slack, Discord, and Google Hangouts have become increasingly popular as remote work has increased, and with good reason. These platforms make it easier for employees to connect with one another, both on a business level and a personal level. Encourage employees to set up business-related chats and also engage in some personal chat time. You may want to encourage separate channels for conversations about movies, weekend activities, memes, and more. Conversations that would occur naturally in an in-person environment but may require some deliberate setup in a company that has employees scattered around the world.

Hold Regular Meetings With Remote Employees

Meetings are essential to maintaining connection and collaboration across your company. Remember that you do not just want to set up meetings for no reason. Instead, look for ways to hold genuinely valuable meetings for your company.

  • Host chat sessions for employees working on projects together. Encourage collaboration through those meetings.
  • Hold company-wide meetings to share important announcements and information.
  • Encourage department meetings for individual departments to share vital information and collaborate on potential problems.

Remember that meetings should have a defined purpose and last for set periods in most cases, so employees know what to expect and can move on with their regular job responsibilities when necessary.

Encourage Calls

Getting on a call together can allow employees to quickly sort out potential problems and form a deeper connection than a virtual chat alone. Encourage employees to utilize call technologies, including video call platforms, to connect more personally.

Send Out Announcements and Newsletters

When your employees work remotely, you must be diligent about sending out announcements and keeping them apprised of the latest changes within the company. Newsletters and announcements are a great way to ensure that all team members stay on the same page and can keep abreast of potential changes. Remember that employees should not be the last to know about changes within your company structure, new product offerings, or changes and innovations you might be trying. Regular announcements and newsletters can make a huge difference in your ability to keep employees engaged and connected.

An illustration of two remote employees chatting with each other through a computer.

3. Create Social Opportunities for Your Remote Employees

Creating social opportunities for a remote workforce can be more difficult than creating opportunities for an in-person workforce. Your employees don’t have the chance to connect around the water cooler or quickly meet up for drinks at a local restaurant at the end of the workday. However, you can create social opportunities for your employees.

Host Virtual Team-Building Times

Encourage employees to engage in virtual team-building exercises. Try not to make all of these mandatory. Instead, create an environment that employees want to show up for. Consider options like:

  • Virtual cooking or cocktail mixing classes
  • Happy hour at the end of the work day a couple of times a month (bring your own drinks–no alcohol required!)
  • Virtual “parties” and events
  • Virtual escape rooms and other team-building activities

Give employees a chance to weigh in and talk about the activities they enjoy most, including what activities they would like to see more of in the future and try to create those opportunities when possible.

Connect in Person

Sometimes, you may want to bring employees together in person to connect more deeply. An in-person retreat can last only a few days but may create relationships and connections that last much longer. Fly employees to a desirable destination. Enjoy some work-related in-person collaboration while allowing employees plenty of time to engage in social activities.

4. Get to Know Your Remote Employees

Part of having a remote workforce is getting to know your employees and their values. If you value the diversity of a global workforce, ensure you’re embracing it! Get to know:

  • What holidays employees around the world celebrate
  • What is important in the various cultures represented by your employees, including their fundamental values
  • What religious observances employees prioritize (including prayer times, fasts, holidays, or things that those employees do not engage with

Once you know about your employees’ cultures, ensure your company prioritizes them. For example, if you have Jewish employees, sending ham for the winter holidays might not be the best option–and might not show the cultural sensitivity you’re hoping to exemplify.

5. Focus on Remote Employees’ Wellness

If you want a strong remote company culture, focusing on employee wellness is one of the best ways to build it.

Allow Flexibility

With a global workforce, chances are, you have relatively limited “core operational hours.” Instead, work probably gets done at all hours of the day. Encourage employees to take advantage of that flexibility where possible. That could mean adjusting their hours one day to attend an appointment or shifting their core working hours to the ones that work best for their needs.

Encourage Work/Life Balance

Some remote employees struggle to “turn off” work at the end of the day. In some fields, that may be because of ongoing projects that employees can always put in a bit more work on. For others, it may simply be because the job is always there in their living space, even when engaging in other activities. Encourage employees to maintain work/life balance. Ensure they are present for their families and not working excessive hours. Employees with a strong work/life balance are often more productive and commit more than those who struggle with stepping away from the job.

Use Sick Days

Push employees to use their sick days when needed. Remote employees are generally less likely to call in when they feel under the weather since they may feel able to get some work done. Even when they cannot fully focus on their usual job tasks. Using sick days when needed can help employees recover faster and make them feel more appreciated by their employers.

Balance Vacations

With a remote workforce, you may deal with dramatically different PTO requirements. In many countries, employers must offer minimum vacation amounts–and employees may be legally required to take a minimum amount of time off each year. Not only should you comply with the law for each country, but you should ensure that employees in every country are encouraged to take vacation time. Employees with adequate vacation time are more likely to return refreshed and engaged, which increases productivity and creates a better company culture.

Recruit Remote Employees from a Global Workforce

Utilizing a global workforce helps improve overall diversity and increase employees’ connection and commitment to your business. Contact us to learn more about how we can help you recruit the employees you need from around the world.

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