When most people think about company culture, they think about something contained within four walls in a specific place. In some cases, they might think about ping-pong tables and a fridge full of soda. However, this is most accurately known as “office culture”.
A strong company culture, on the other hand, comes from people practicing the spoken and unspoken values of the company, wherever in the world they might be. It’s the biggest investment a company can make. Culture is what connects business goals, values, and people.
But staying connected to a company culture remotely doesn’t happen automatically. You need to take deliberate steps to make sure this happens. Do it right and the company culture will feel as strongly as if you were within those same four walls.
1. Best practices to connect around the globe
We rely heavily on communication to maintain our culture. There are hundreds of tools that can help us, but what’s important is that at Nolte we use some of those tools that most resemble how we would interact in real life. We classified our interactions into 5 categories:
- Cloud Computing: One of the most powerful aspects of these tools is the ability to share files, documents, spreadsheets, and presentations with others, so we can collaboratively edit those documents together in real-time from anywhere in the world. For this reason, we work with Google Cloud Suite & Atlassian.
- Chatting: Perfect for a casual chat, banter, and funny GIFs. Stride is a good example of this category. Meetings, team standups, and 1:1 reviews work well on a video call, and give you that all-important face time.
- Acknowledgment: It’s important to let employees take credit and give credit to someone else’s work. It should be tangible. That’s why we use Bonusly, a platform that radically improves and simplifies employee recognition, rewards and performance management.
- Goals recognition: Having a special time to celebrate with your teams and share news, birthdays, personal projects is great. Every end of the month on Fridays we gather for our “Happy Hour” toast.
- Work-life Balance: We’re committed to always improve our employee’s lifestyles so we practice meditation. Meditation has been shown to help people stress less, focus more and even sleep better. At Nolte, we’ve been using it as a nice moment to connect with each other and share that relaxing experience in real time. It’s been so innovative that we’ve been using Headspace, that even they wanted to know more about us! “Krispy 😉”
2. Take advantage of the team around you!
While it’s easy to go directly to someone who can answer your question right away, there are great benefits to asking publicly. You’ll get different points of view, and start discussions to get a higher quality response. It lets everyone jump in with any feedback they have – an essential part of our culture. It also means that anyone who didn’t know the answer can learn at the same time, and helps everyone get on the same page.
There is a limit here though. If you were in the office, you wouldn’t go shouting at everyone for an answer, so try to keep your questions focused on a specific team. For example, on Stride you can use commands and mentions to get the attention of a specific teammate; this way we avoid skipping messages or distracting the whole team with something non-relatable to everyone. Commands such as @here or @all should be used only in critical situations.
3. Make face-to-face interactions more often
If you work remotely this means your in-person meetings are rationed, so make sure you get the best out of it. If you’re visiting an office for any reason, say yes! to every invite, and spend as much time face-to-face with colleagues as you can. Perhaps, you may find yourself without a second to spare, but the more time you spend collaborating with your team, the stronger those relationships will be when you’re remote once again.
Meetings are great for collaborating but often their best purpose is to build human relationships. Proactively reach out to people, especially those who you haven’t spent much time with.
4. See the culture from a client’s perspective
Working in a customer support team, we’re the frontline ambassador of our company culture. Every time we interact with a customer, we have a chance to show the Nolte values. This is an area where being remote shouldn’t be a barrier, so we can use customer conversations to internalize as much of the Nolte culture as we can.
5. Say NO to be left out
We are aware that there are things that remote employees might miss out – company off dates, social events, etc. But it’s important to realize you’re not being left out. For those in the office, over-communicating can often be better than assuming team members will find out through the general gossip.
6. Be proactive
Culture isn’t static and needs positive contributions so that it really thrives. Being remote doesn’t make you any less entitled to contribute to your company culture. You were hired because you fit in, so it is your duty to keep cultivating it. There are many ways that you can do this. It could be giving constructive feedback to a colleague, or proactively improving a part of your team’s workflow.
Regardless if you’re present or not, engage anyway! There are plenty of remote-friendly ways to share an experience with your teammates, like sharing music recommendations. If you’ve got a busy day ahead, sharing your favorite “Focus” or “Get-in-the-zone” playlists means you may as well be listening in the same room.
Also, it’s vital to overemphasize the importance of communication. You need to figure out how you can create a safe environment to communicate and how you can allow for constructive feedback and have healthy debates. Most of the times, you won’t have the opportunity to sit down and have a face-to-face 101.
Remote teams have their own unique issues and they keep growing and growing, so we have to be creative and find new ways to tackle those problems. Trust us, the extra effort is worth the reward.
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