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From Water Cooler Chats to Remote Teams: Nurturing Culture in a Remote-First World

Remote work has been on the rise for many years, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only accelerated the trend. The proliferation of technology has made remote work a viable option for many companies around the world. The benefits for both employers and employees are numerous, including reduced overhead costs, more flexibility in scheduling, and reduced commuting time. However, remote work can also pose challenges when it comes to building and maintaining company culture. In this blog post, we will explore best practices for fostering a strong culture in a remote-first workplace.

Importance of Company Culture

Company culture is an essential component of success for any organization, whether it be remote or in-person. A strong culture can help retain employees, boost morale, and increase productivity. It also creates a sense of belonging that can help employees feel invested in the company’s success. However, creating and maintaining a strong company culture in a remote work environment can be challenging. It is critical to establish a clear company culture from the outset.


Communication is one of the most important factors for building a strong company culture, particularly in remote work environments. Communication builds trust and promotes mutual understanding. Without regular opportunities to interact face-to-face, informal communication, such as spontaneous water cooler chats or impromptu meetings in the hallway, may be more difficult. Creating communication structures is essential for building a healthy company culture.

Regular Team Meetings

Regular team meetings, both large and small, help ensure that remote teams stay connected. These meetings can occur at scheduled times or impromptu as needed. Leaders and managers should communicate company goals clearly and make sure everyone understands the mission and objectives. This helps create a collective understanding of the company’s mission and vision across remote teams.

Virtual One-on-One Meetings

Despite being remote, team members should have regular access to their supervisors. Virtual one-on-one meetings are more critical in remote work environments for checking in with employees and ensuring that concerns or challenges do not go unaddressed. Managers can use virtual check-ins to monitor progress, get feedback, and provide coaching and advice that support employee growth and development.

Transparent Communication Channels

In remote work environments, transparent communication is crucial to building trust. A clear chain of communication and protocols for presenting demands or grappling with various issues should be established. It is important to follow up with all employees in a consistent and transparent manner. Some communication tools that might be beneficial in establishing transparent communication channels include Slack, Zoom, and Microsoft Teams.

Employee Handbook

Employee handbooks should contain up-to-date information about important company policies and procedures. They provide support and advice for employees to navigate workplace issues, from HR policies to COVID-19 guidelines. Employee handbooks can help set expectations and build trust, thus reducing stress and anxiety about procedures and work management.

Define and Reinforce Company Values

Company values illustrate important guiding principles by which a company operates. Defining these values is essential, providing employees with proper guidance and direction. Company values help employees understand the “why” behind various company mandates and guidelines.

Reinforcing Company Values

To ensure that employees understand the values and share in the mission, it’s essential to reinforce company values consistently. Leaders can reinforce values by offering company initiatives, linking hiring practices to core values, and recognition programs for noteworthy behavior. For example, an employee who consistently exhibits company values can receive recognition in company communications, intranet pop-ups, or through social media channels. These are some ways to encourage behaviors that align with company values.

Feedback and Input

Gathering employee feedback and input is crucial for creating a strong company culture. However, remote work environments can make it more challenging to elicit feedback, making it essential to implement the right measures. Feedback provides insights into employee satisfaction, methods for improvement, and fresh ideas on how to tackle various issues.

One-on-One Sessions

One-on-one virtual sessions provide employees with a space to voice concerns about their current work situation. While these meetings might be informal, they provide an opportunity for employees to connect with their supervisors and share feedback. These sessions promote trust between employees and management by giving all people an equal opportunity to share their thoughts and concerns.

Online Forums and Surveys

Regularly scheduling online forums and surveys can help elicit feedback from remote team members who might not regularly engage in one-on-one virtual meetings. These forums could be used to address anything from company work-life balance to HR policies. Through regular online surveys, remote teams can provide feedback on training and development, technology tools, and performance goals. The feedback received provides insights into what remote employees need and how they would like the company to operate, which might not be initially apparent to managers.

Promote Team Building and Connection

Team building creates a strong bond among remote team members by helping them understand each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Team building activities promote self-awareness and team awareness by promoting collaboration, engaging team members, and establishing relationship building.

Virtual Team Building Activities

Virtual team-building activities are a great way to promote team building, connect remote team members and create a positive work culture. Activities like virtual escape rooms, quiz nights, or hobby shares can prove beneficial in creating a sense of community and camaraderie. These activities can provide both competitive and collaborative opportunities, help team members form stronger connections.

In-Person Team Building Activities

In-person team-building activities can also create a positive work culture, even in remote work environments. For example, a team retreat can provide remote team members with an opportunity to meet face-to-face and connect on a more personal level. In-person activities such as team sports or volunteering in local communities can also promote teamwork and collaboration.

Celebrate Milestones

Celebrating work anniversaries, birthdays, and other significant milestones is a great way to promote team bonding outside of work. Recognizing these events lets team members know that their team is paying attention and that their contributions to the team are worthwhile. Celebrations might be virtual, say through video conference calls, but they provide an emotional connection to remote teams. By being creative in the way that companies celebrate milestones, these can become important activities to bond a team together.

Company Benefits

While company benefits might not seem like a central part of company culture, they can play an important role in providing employees with a sense of belonging and support. Benefits like health insurance or paid time off can help employees feel valued and supported. Remote teams might also have unique benefits that cater to their particular needs, such as work-from-home stipends or mental health services.

Employee recognition

Recognizing employees’ contributions is a critical component of building a strong company culture in remote teams. Recognizing employees for their achievements and for the work they do is essential to keep employees engaged and motivated. Regularly acknowledge their work and highlight excellent performances through company newsletters or social media posts. Additionally, celebrating employees who go above and beyond by hosting recognition events such as employee of the month or “Spotlight Employee” can be a great way to build morale.


Remote work environments present challenges for building company culture, but it is entirely possible to achieve with the right strategy. This strategy involves consistent communication, promoting and reinforcing company values, gathering employee feedback and input, and fostering team-building opportunities. Ultimately, promoting a positive workplace culture centers on building trust, respect, and camaraderie through regular interaction and celebration of milestones. Through these measures, companies can foster a positive workplace culture and promote consistent employee engagement and productivity despite not being in the office. Remote teams become closer than ever despite the miles that separate them, a truly unique work environment that allows for diversity, flexibility and building teams with the best talents regardless of geographical location.

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