Building Positive Company Culture with Remote Staff

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According to a recent Paychex study, 80% of the workers who quit their jobs during the Great Resignation now wish they had their jobs back. The No. 1 reason? Missing their coworkers. This speaks volumes about the link between human interaction, job satisfaction and company culture.

As the head of a company with employees in 40 cities, I ask myself daily, “How do we maintain a positive company culture to keep our widespread and remote employees engaged and energized?”

What is company culture? I like to start with what it’s not. Company culture is not saying, “We’re all a family here,” which implies we expect our team members to put their job on par with their own families — that’s a recipe for burnout and resentment. We have to respect our staff’s priorities outside of work and make their work time as fulfilling as possible. Let’s be honest: Most people would prefer to be with friends or family rather than at work. How can we make work more rewarding and enjoyable so that they give their best efforts while they are there?

Entrepreneur and motivational speaker Adam Mendler describes company culture as the “combination of people, vision and values that ultimately defines the atmosphere in the workplace and shapes how much you enjoy coming into work.” It’s the end of that definition that really resonates with me.

If people don’t enjoy being at work — whether they’re working from home or in the office — they’re going to start looking elsewhere. Making work enjoyable doesn’t have to mean turning the workplace into a rec room. People enjoy working where:

  • they feel recognized and appreciated,
  • they know their work matters,
  • they’re challenged by interesting work, and
  • their out-of-work life is respected.

With so many of our team members working remotely or in offices across the country, we know we have to be very intentional about addressing those elements of employee satisfaction. Our commitment to a positive company culture starts at the top and is re-emphasized at every level of our team. Here are some of the ways we work to build our culture.

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Manager check-ins. Our managers connect with each of their team members regularly to discuss successes as well as concerns. That starts at the top and goes all the way to our frontline staff. We encourage managers to bring back what Edward Tuorinsky calls the “small moments of inefficiency” in the transition time between meetings to promote casual conversations that build relationships among team members.

Companywide messaging. Once a week, my co-founder and I send out a company-wide email to celebrate successes of team members, promote particular areas of focus and share news. These communications are a great way to keep remote employees in the loop about what’s happening at other offices and to give recognition to team members for outstanding work. We also use this medium to share team members’ personal news, such as birth announcements, achievements outside of work and the like.

Awareness initiatives. LGC puts a big focus on spreading awareness of issues that are important to our team members and supporting related organizations and charities with donations. Each month, we share information on a specific issue such as Black history, suicide prevention, women’s history, diabetes or heart disease through our internal communications and social media channels. We’re especially open to highlighting issues that directly affect our team members or their families.

Opportunities for fun. We have contests, small parties and festive days once a month in our local offices. We can set up virtual games on Zoom to connect different offices to promote friendly competition and involve team members working from home. These social events allow team members to get to know each other in a more relaxed fashion but without the time commitment of attending an after-hours event.

Positive company culture boils down to showing your team members that they matter. It’s not enough to bring in coffee and donuts once in a while. You have to show you are genuinely interested in what is important to your staff, in the workplace and outside it. When your staff are working from home or in offices spread across the country, those efforts are especially important, and they are well worth the effort.