What Company Culture Looks Like in a Remote CompanyWhat Company Culture Looks Like in a Remote Company

Beyond boardrooms and spreadsheets, it’s important for a company to have a culture of its own. Defined as the values, practices, and beliefs that are shared by the people within an organization, a company’s culture is vital to its overall success. When you have all of your employees clustered in one communal office, it’s certainly easier to foster a company culture. But what happens when employees are part of distributed teams, spread out to all corners of the globe? Does that mean virtual organizations don’t have a company culture?

Far from it.

While it might look and function slightly differently than a traditional brick-and-mortar company, having a company culture when you have a remote workforce is easily attainable. We interviewed over 50 remote companies through Remote.co to find out how they manage company culture virtually. Here’s what company culture looks like in a remote company—and how you can achieve it, too.

Communication is “Oxygen” for Remote Teams

Communication is key in any organization, but particularly so when you have a remote team. That’s why managers know that in order to have a solid bottom line (and happy, productive workers to boot), you should foster communication among managers and among colleagues as well. Sara Rosso, marketing manager and Lori McLeese, head of HR at Automattic, take that idea of communicating to the next level.

“Our creed includes the statement, ‘I will communicate as much as possible because it’s the oxygen of a distributed company,’” they said in the Remote.co story, “How Do You Nurture Your Company’s Culture in a Remote Work Environment?” “We communicate not only about work projects, but also about personal things. We have watercooler P2s that focus on music, games, literature, fitness, home ownership, pets, tattoos—about just about anything that creates a bond between Automatticians.”

Allowing employees to discuss the particulars of a project—as well as their shared obsession over The Real Housewives of New York City—helps to forge better bonds, and in turn, a stronger loyalty to the company.

Remote Workers Know How to Have Fun

Sure, your employees love what they do, but they also have interests outside the company. While office employees can gather together for drinks on a Friday, virtual workers might have a tougher time “hanging out” with their coworkers. That is, unless they work for ICUC. The company has a director of culture and development whose role is to help foster a strong culture in the company’s remote work environment.

To that end, ICUC hosts a Happy Hour on the last Friday of every month (complete with a theme and dress up suggestions!), as well as Cluster Parties. Nicole van Zanten, director, marketing and communications, said, “With employees in over 30 countries, it’s not possible to have a holiday party or a summer picnic with the whole team in attendance. So, our director of culture hosts numerous cluster parties in cities where we have clusters or groups of employees based. The parties include a team-building activity, dinner, and lots of laughs.”

Getting Mail is Exciting Again

When your virtual workers are toiling away from their home offices around the globe, it’s easy for them to feel disconnected from their coworkers, their company, and the world at large. That’s why it’s crucial for remote companies to remember that these are real people doing the work.

At FlexJobs, it’s all about the details. Birthdays and work anniversaries are always acknowledged, according to Carol Cochran, director of Human Resources. “We’ve sent candy at Halloween, coupons for free ice cream in the summer, and gifts to commemorate milestones in the company,” says Cochran. So take the time to recognize the small, seemingly insignificant things because the might mean a lot to your staff.

Virtual Coworkers Meet in Person

Even if employees are far-flung across the country, remote companies should encourage them to get together once in a while. Jared Ponchot, creative director at Lullabot, advocates the importance of retreats. “Retreats are a huge thing. We have an annual all company retreat, but we also have more focused retreats pretty regularly for smaller teams within the company focused on particular things,” says Ponchot.

So cluster your colleagues who are within driving distance of each other and encourage them to get together for dinner and drinks—on the company’s tab. Remote workers who are on the same team will enjoy meeting their colleagues in person, and others who are on different teams within the company can get an idea of what others do in the organization. Overall, it gives your employees a connection to each other, and more importantly, to your remote company.

With ever-growing advances in technology, it’s easier than ever for remote companies to establish a company culture. With some creative thinking and planning, your remote company can have a company culture that is stronger than any traditional brick-and-mortar organization.

photo credit: istockphoto.com