How to keep the company culture alive when working remotely

Since WHO discovered an unknown virus in the Hubei province in China, nothing is the same. Companies had to adjust, and many of us now work from home. You could say that the coronavirus has initiated the greatest workplace experiment ever.


At Telavox, we aim to make work life more fun and productive. We do this by the use of digital tools, and we are experts in company culture. In this guide, we have invited organisational expert Johanna Olsson from The Hows. You will learn how to create the best conditions for your team to collaborate better. You will know which digital tools to use and get strategic tips to think about now – and after – the corona crisis.

How to keep the company culture alive when working remotely

When working remotely, many of our needs as human beings in a working environment are enhanced. We need security, a feeling of belonging, and competency. That becomes harder when we work remotely. It is easier to feel disconnected from the social parts of work when we have a shortage of meeting places. Like lunch, coffee breaks or meeting up on the way to an internal meeting. We also feel less secure in what happens in projects, and in the company. This is because we no longer get the same overview and can communicate like when we meet.

The anxiety can take over the willingness to cooperate

How we work can also seem new and unfamiliar. We can begin to question our competence. This can lead to a decrease in motivation and feeling depressed. We get a great need to assert ourselves and do good. That, in turn, takes over the willingness to cooperate. We might begin to control each other to regain that sense of control. We might react in ways that may seem odd. But it is, in fact, natural and linked to basic human needs.

The importance of meeting elementary needs

As we go through a crisis, we can become better at inflating those things that help us meet basic needs. You can arrange digital coffee breaks and lunches to increase the feeling of belonging in a team.

9 tips on how to keep a team working remotely together

You, as an employer, must be clear with your expectations and create valid structures. Relational tools, like feedback processes and relationship-building habits, are also very important.

1. Create or further develop your company values

With a remote team, it is more difficult for new team members to understand your company culture. You hardly ever meet! It is, thus, essential to convey and document what values ​​should guide all employees. You must present your corporate culture to everyone, new and old, from day one.

If you want the company culture to continue to grow, especially with a remote team, you must talk about it. Talk a lot about values ​​with your employees. What are the most important to them? Have some of them changed over time?

2. Company values ​​are just as important when working remotely

It can be a challenge for a remote team to preserve and keep the company’s values ​​alive. Values ​​can become eroded or empty words on the intranet if you don’t practise them. So, how can you translate the company values into something significant? Something that employees can use in their everyday lives?

Company management and managers must advocate company values. Otherwise, they completely lose their purpose. If you have a remote team, talk often about the company’s values! Feel free to link them to weekly events, for instance.

The values ​​must also follow the company’s development. A startup will usually don’t have the same standards as a larger company, and a growing company is also, at the same time, changing its company culture. That is even more apparent if the company has expanded to other countries. If you want a positive company culture to continue to grow, you must often test the company culture, especially with a dispersed team.

And what do you do when a new colleague joins the team? Make sure to convey and document values ​​that should guide the employee in everyday life. There should be a formulated company culture for everyone in the organisation. That is something you should introduce already at the job interview.

3. Be curious about each other

We tend to drift apart when we do not meet on a regular basis. When we, for instance, never see each other for a laidback coffee at the cafeteria. Thus, it can help to explore each other’s core values. These are often rooted deep within us and based on things you bring with you from home. If your values ​​do not correspond to the company culture, you might not thrive in that workplace.

A workshop is usually a proper forum to talk about this. Or why not set aside half an hour for a team meeting for this? Discuss the meaning of the values ​​and how each team member perceives them. That will increase the understanding of each other’s differences, but also bring employees closer together, even if they are working remotely.

4. Tell others about your culture

From an employer brand purpose, it is ingenious to tell others about your company values. Then you attract the right talent. It will also be more accessible to new employees, especially for those working remotely.

Netflix is ​​a well-known example of a company that has shared its company culture. Netflix CEO and founder, Reed Hastings, published Netflix Culture: Freedom & Responsibility in 2009. It now has over 20 million views.

5. Welcome new employees in front of the whole team and company

When you are new to a company, you usually get a tour and get introduced to your co-workers. It is not as easy if you work from home. But it is easy to solve. At Telavox, we use an internal chat where we have created various open chat rooms. In our chat room New at Telavox, you, as a new employee, can write a post with a few lines about yourself. Then everyone at the company knows that they have got a new colleague. It is, of course, possible to send out the information via email as well.

Encourage new employees to book meetings with team members they will work a lot with, but also with colleagues in other departments. These employees also help to spread the company culture. It is a great way to get to know each other on a more personal level.

6. Encourage an environment with open communication and feedback 

Create clear, simple, and open communication channels. That promotes transparency and encourages employees to get in touch with each other. At Telavox, we use the internal chat extensively – it has even almost replaced email. A chat function lowers the communication threshold between employees. You get faster responses and it reduces email spam. As a leader, you should encourage an environment where everyone contributes. Through the chat, it is not only the loud and extroverts who get heard. Here, everyone feels comfortable to express themselves. The goal is to reduce bureaucracy and formalities as much as possible. Then you avoid employees falling silent, which is never healthy or promotes creativity.

The internal chat on Telavox also works as a useful tool when new employees are onboarded. The chat function contains all employee contact information: Department, country, picture, and more. If you are new to the job, it is a valuable overview of the people at the company and the company structure. Here, an employee at Telavox explains how he quickly got into the gang with the help of the communication platform.

7. Set expectations for communication methods

You should describe how, when, and for what you are going to use your communication channels. You may need to handle more formal documentation via email. Informal communication best takes place via apps like Slack or Skype.

An internal guide lets employees know what and where they should publish. Everyone must know if you use different communication collaboration tools. If you use Microsoft Teams for file sharing, Slack for chatting, and so on.

8. Keep communication alive!

Studies show that effective communication and economic development are closely related. According to Hubspot, companies with efficient communication get a higher total return. Companies with efficient communication had a 47 % higher total return to its shareholders, compared to companies with less effective communication. The way you communicate can thus be decisive for whether you fail or succeed. So, set aside regular reconciliations every week – try to have at least two meetings. Review what the team is working on and provide information on any decisions that may affect the team. Also, encourage feedback and open dialogue.

Also, feel free to hold meetings through video conferencing. That allows people to recognise each other and see reactions and facial expressions. Body language contributes to more effective communication. People actually observe your body language almost as much as they listen to what you say.

9. State when you work and when you’re off work

Are you in a meeting or caring for your sick child? It is not easy to keep track of each other when you consist of a team that works remotely. There are different ways to report where you are. You can use an open calendar or use notifications via email. In the Telavox app, there is a setting called Profiles. There you can tell colleagues and customers if you are at lunch, sick, and more. You choose what number is on display, and which calls get transferred – direct calls or queue calls.

Conclusion: How to strengthen company culture when you work remotely

  • Create or develop your company values.
  • Let others know about your company culture.
  • Welcome new employees in front of the whole company.
  • Encourage an environment of open communication and feedback.
  • Set expectations for communications methods.
  • Keep communication alive!

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