Creating culture in a remote workplace

When it comes to a remote company, however, many managers often wonder: how do you create a healthy culture when your team is scattered around the globe?

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7 minute read

“Being a great place to work is the difference between being a good company and a great company.”

– Brian Kristofek, President and CEO, Upshot

Your employees shouldn't wake up in the morning feeling unhappy that it's Monday. On the contrary, they should look forward to working. They're supposed to enjoy the challenges, their co-workers, and the opportunity of being part of a community.

When it comes to a remote company, however, many managers often wonder: how do you create a healthy culture when your team is scattered around the globe?

In our view, this is an unnecessary concern. Adeva managed to evolve from a small hybrid company of 10 people into a fully-distributed company with more than 100 team members. 

The secret ingredient for success? Creating a positive culture is not about ping-pong games or trust falls. It includes:

  • Hiring the right people.
  • Building an amazing onboarding process.
  • Maintaining ongoing communication.
  • Instilling trust.
  • Investing in your employees.

Screen Shot 2020-03-20 at 8.19.06 PM

Hiring the right people

Hiring remote workers differs from hiring local employees. You won't be sitting across the room from your employees to ensure they're performing well or communicating in person. Instead, they'll be sitting in a co-working space 5000+ km from you, working on the tasks for the day.

Beyond the usual technical skills you'll be hunting for, there's a set of soft skills that every remote worker should possess:

  • Great communication skills,
  • Self-motivation skills,
  • Time-management skills,
  • The capacity to work independently,
  • The willingness to work with a team that has common goals and values, and strong work ethic.

Bat Haus coworking and event space, United States

Bat Haus coworking and event space, United States

Building an amazing onboarding process

Did you know that 20% of staff turnover happens in the first 45 days of employment? Even so, many companies fail to invest enough time and resources into the onboarding process. 

The truth is that an effective onboarding process can create a connection between your new employees and the goals of the company.

Here are a few ideas on how to onboard remote employees and encourage them to stay and thrive:

  • Say hello over a video conference session: Greeting the new hire using a tool like Zoom or Google Hangouts can be an excellent start. You'll have the chance to communicate face-to-face and the employee to ask questions. 
  • Let the new hire meet the team: Since the team won't have the chance to bond over coffees at the office, it would be nice to introduce the new hire to the team using a communication tool like Slack. Create a #watercooler chat where the new employees will feel comfortable asking questions and get to know the rest of the team. 
  • Help them with their paperwork: Use a tool like HelloSign or DocuSign for any documents the new hire has to sign. The employee can sign the paperwork digitally, without the need to send anything via mail. 
  • Introduce them to your company culture: Your new hire should be introduced to your company culture so that they understand your mission, vision, and values. Consider sending them recorded videos from meetings or company presentations. 
  • Direct them to the communication tools you'll be using: For a successful collaboration, the new hire must know the set of tools you'll be using to stay in touch. Need to ask a quick question? Use Slack! Is it something urgent? Email is the best option! Don't forget to send them the login info for the tools they'll be using, create their company email, or tell them if there's software they should download on their devices.
  • Have detailed outlines of goals and expectations: Prepare detailed outlines of everything you expect to be done from your new hire. Inform them of their responsibilities, day-to-day tasks, and goals. Consider using a tool like Asana for effective project management. 

Maintaining ongoing communication

The surest way for your entire team to connect and create positive relationships is by maintaining ongoing communication. 

It can be something very simple like starting a conversation in a #random Slack channel: 

Hello team, what is everyone doing today, and how is the weather in your city? 

Tip: Strive to communicate face-to-face at least a few times per month. It helps build stronger connections.

Another popular way of bonding when the team is remote is by playing team-building games for distributed teams. 

Idea: Stream a movie via a virtual conference call with a screen-sharing option like Zoom and let the whole team join you.

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Instilling trust

No type of relationship can survive without trust. Just like flour is the essential ingredient of a good cake, trust is the vital component of a remote team.

To establish and maintain trust between your remote employees, you should:

Share information about the company.

Your new hires want to learn everything they can about their new place of work. What are your values? What are your long-term goals? They need this information so that they know how to support it. 

Offer feedback.

There's no need to sugarcoat things or overly criticize their work. What employees need is constructive criticism. Did they do something amazing? Let them know. Did they make a mistake? Explain how they can improve. 

Take responsibility.

In the same way that you expect your employees to admit their mistakes, you should also disclose your own. By doing so, you'll create a culture of trust where everyone will feel free to share their mistakes openly. Leave your ego aside and be part of the team. 

Tell the truth.

Do you expect your team to be honest about what they think and feel? Or about how the project is coming along? Naturally, they want the same thing from their manager. Truth is a two-way street. When you tell your team the truth, your team will tell you the truth in return. Even if it's bad news, your employees deserve to know. Honesty can inspire them to perform at 100%. 

Show respect. 

Apart from trust, respect is another critical component of a successful relationship. To keep your remote team engaged and motivated, treat every team member with respect. Appreciate their ideas, opinions, and time. Don't be late for meetings, criticize their ideas, or discourage them from sharing their thoughts. 

Investing in your employees

Remote companies save thousands of dollars by not investing in office space and equipment. Why not invest the money you save into employee development? In fact, when Hired asked employees what would motivate them to accept a job offer, 39% of them said it's the opportunity to learn new skills, and 26% of them said it's growth opportunities.

In addition to career development, another great idea would be to organize in-person retreats or to bring everyone together to attend a conference. 

Closing Thoughts

The State of Remote Work 2019 showcased some interesting statistics. Remote employees seem to be struggling with unplugging from work, loneliness, and communicating

With this information in mind, you can take the required steps to prevent this from happening. If your goal is to create a fantastic culture for your remote team, make sure to respect your employees' time off. Engage every team member and keep them connected to the larger team. Finally, teach people to use specific modes of communication, depending on their needs.


Katerina Trajchevska
is the CEO at Adeva, an exclusive developers’ network that partners with compan
ies to scale their engineering teams on demand. She’s a remote work advocate and a strong believer that the future of work is not about where you work from, but what you deliver.




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