Maybe your business has grown and you are opening a new office in a new territory (good for you!) or maybe you’ve decided to expand your team and they will work remotely from their homes—in either case, if you’re a growing company, now is the time to put some care and focus into your culture. Here are seven ideas to help you keep the culture alive no matter where your employees are:
7 Ways to Keep the Culture Alive in Remote Offices
1. Keep communication open
Include your remote team in everything you can.
If you have a weekly meeting, include your remote team over Skype so that they hear all the same information as everyone else in the main office.
2. Provide and foster autonomy
Give your leaders running the remote office the autonomy to manage their team.
Opening a new office is hard, make sure you support the person you’ve put in charge. Give them the autonomy to hire the people they need and supply their people with the things (tangible and intangible) that they need to do their jobs.
3. Provide a connection
Long-distance relationships are hard. If you want your remote employees to feel engaged, then facilitate that connection.
Ask employees from the main office to buddy-up with a new remote employee. The “buddy’s” job is to offer support and guidance while the new employee is onboarding. They should ask them if they need anything, or just check in to see how things are going. Additionally, if your remote employees visit the main office, their buddy could show them around the office and around town.
4. Offer the same perks
Remote employees shouldn’t feel like they are any less of an employee of your company than someone sitting in the main office. To make sure they feel that way, treat them the same whenever possible.
While it might be difficult in some cases to offer all the same perks that employees get in the main office—get clever, and do the best you can. If you have free lunch one day in the main office, coordinate with the remote office and make sure they get free lunch delivered as well or send remote employees gift cards to local places. Little efforts like this go a long way.
5. Require remote employees to attend orientation at the main office
Orientation gives you the chance to marinate your new hires in what is core to your culture and then take it back to their office with them. It also provides a valuable opportunity for them to make connections with the teammates they will be working with remotely.
Fly, drive—transport your remote employees to your main office and provide an orientation that includes a presentation and overview from each team. Give your new hires the opportunity to learn what each team does and how they work. It’s essential that they understand how their own team fits in.
6. Protect the culture
A great culture takes time and focus to get right and keep strong. You’ll know when you have a good thing going because you’ll feel it when you walk into the office in the morning. When that happens, make sure to protect it.
It’s important to be intentional about protecting your culture, so train your remote team leaders or employees on your company values. Make sure they understand what is tolerated and what is not so that they can lead with those expectations. Then, make sure you arrange a couple of visits each year for team members to visit the remote office or for your remote employees to visit the main office and make sure they are invited to any company parties throughout the year.
7. Include your values in your application
As your remote team grows it is increasingly important to keep your values and culture in mind during the hiring process.
Create short-answer questions that are built around your core company values. The way people answer these questions will give you some early insight into how they might fit with the team and how qualified they are to keep your culture alive.
A final word on culture
Be very thoughtful and intentional about the culture you create. Culture is not perks, it is not benefits, it is not a ping pong table or standing desks. These can all be great things that attract great candidates but they come after you decide what kind of company you are going to be. Decide what is important, what kind of environment you want to walk into every day, and what kind of people you want to work with. Decide what your one nonnegotiable is (for PaySimple, that’s authenticity). Use that as your foundation from which to build your values and the feel of your company culture.