by Francesco Agnoletto

7 tips to improve remote company culture

Increasing happiness and reducing employee turnover

Venice by me

A lack of remote culture can lead to a major decrease in productivity as well as an increase in employee turnover.

Hiring an employee costs at least 2 to 3 monthly salaries. This is a good investment when more heads are needed, but a very bad one if you have to replace employees all the time.

Calculating the cost of low productivity is harder, but it is definitely expensive. Maximizing productivity and happiness can reduce company costs dramatically.

Having a positive working environment and culture is vital for a successful company.
Remote companies are generally happier than non-remote ones.
Remote employees can enjoy more time with their families and zero commuting. While this grants a better starting point, a remote culture is still needed.

Below, 7 tips to make your remote company’s culture more effective.

1 - Share, share, share

Every oral conversation that happens in an office does not include remote workers. Slack and similar platforms, help make communication more inclusive.
Long-lasting discussions belong to a workspace, confluence, slite, notion are all good alternatives. Developers usually prefer Github, but it is rarely a good alternative.
The aim is not to change the way conversations happen, but to make it more accessible.

Good video communication software is also vital for facilitating conversations. Zoom is an excellent choice, but hangouts works as well.

2 - Nobody cares for free breakfast in another country

Many companies offer free coffees, breakfasts, beers, local game nights, and so on. If your perks can only be enjoyed in the office, you are excluding your remote employees. Making half or more of your employee second class citizens is a recipe for high turnover.

Some perks that can be offered:

  • More time off
  • Bonus for new hardware (laptops, headphones, second monitor, the list is long)
  • Paid coworking space
  • conference entries
  • Childcare support
  • Courses, webinars, other training programs

There is no simple answer as everyone chooses to work remotely for different reasons. It has to be discussed with each person individually. Make the first step, nobody will come to HR and ask to get a bonus for a new mouse.

3 - Invite and pay for office visits

While working can be done from anywhere, decisions are easier to take from the same room.
Organize with remote teammates joining the office for a few days or more.
The frequency might vary, it should be decided as part of the hiring process. A good rule is to always have the next trip planned.

Being in the same office is a great opportunity to have colleagues know each other better. It is the perfect amount of time to become friends and not enough time to grow bad feelings.

I shouldn’t have to say it, but the company should pay for these visits. It’s part of the job.

4 - Organize retreats

Corporate retreats and team building activities are a great place to form new company objectives and goals. Employees will bond in a relaxed environment with open communication this is the prime time to start forming fresh input and ideas on new company goals. Taking the input from employees into consideration when forming the new business strategy will help them form a stronger connection with the company and work harder towards a common goal. — Amaury de Saint Blanquat

Annual retreats reward employees for their hard work, make people connect in a positive and stress-free environment and foster new ideas.

5 - Be inclusive

Everyone works remotely for their own reasons. Often these reasons have to do with issues that make working from a familiar environment easier an office. From physical issues, mental, family related, the list is endless.

When organizing trips or retreats, ask each person if it requires a special diet, meds, or if there’s anything else that needs to be taken into consideration. If you want to keep the activities a surprise, at least inform of what is needed and required from every person.

Organizing a rock climbing trip requires some special attention if somebody has acrophobia or is in a wheelchair. Don’t assume, just ask. Having somebody skip a trip because of an untold issue is worse than rescheduling something more inclusive.

6 - Respect personal life

The definition of office hours blurs when you work from home. It can become very easy to work longer and longer hours, especially when under deadline.

Make sure the working hours are clearly defined.
Burned-out employees are more expensive than happy ones. Make sure that the remote employees’ time is respected.

7 - Move towards them

It is up to everybody to create and foster a remote culture.
Communication and organization need to account for remote employees as much as non-remote ones.
Everything has to move online or teammates have to be flown to the office.
Remote workers hare happier on average. As stated above, more happiness leads to fewer costs and higher productivity.
Hiring remote it is not a magic pill that makes money out of nothing. Remote companies work in a different way than non-remote ones. This needs to be accounted and steps need to be taken to achieve a successful remote environment.

You can’t have remote employees if you don’t move towards them.