Maintaining a singular company culture can be a challenge when operating two bicoastal office locations or managing a 100% remote company. With just one office location, it’s easy to plan team events and in-person initiatives that bring employees together. However, in multi-location organizations, HR is tasked with finding creative and effective ways to unite distributed employees, regardless of their physical location.
Are you looking to boost your company culture across a distributed workforce? Consider these seven tips to engage all employees, even when they’re far apart.
1. Clearly Define Values
Company values transcend the limits of space and time. While the product and services you offer may change,, your company’s core values are the pillars that support your employee culture. Work with leadership and employees alike to clarify the company’s mission and set guiding values that stand the test of time. Ensure every employee understands and commits to these values (an acronym may help!) from day one.
2. Hire Thoughtfully
Use your company values to inform your hiring process. Clearly articulate your existing culture to candidates and assess which of these qualities they possess. Budget-permitting, fly remote candidates to the company’s headquarters to meet with team members in-person. These individuals may be involved in hiring other employees one day, so it’s important to hire for a strong value fit. If you’re having a hard time attracting strong candidates, consider incentivizing current employees with referral bonuses. Referrals often act as a culture pre-screen to help you identify high quality applicants before the first interview.
3. Leverage Technology
Technology is a major asset for promoting ongoing, face-to-face, communication between employees at 100% remote companies. Whether it’s real-time chat platforms, a company-wide social feed, or video conferencing, it’s never been easier to make meaningful connections across digital platforms regardless of where you are in the world. Provide employees with the tools they need to build peer relationships, and encourage the use of these tools for social interactions in addition to work-specific meetings.
4. Make HR Accessible
Having an onsite HR presence makes all the difference in the world when it comes to steering office culture. While this may be easier if you have distinct office locations (and not a fully remote workforce), at a minimum, you should budget for members of your HR team to travel to remote hubs on a regular basis. HR should be equipped to build connections with employees so that everyone feels they have a point of contact within the company to rely on.
5. Bring Everyone Together
With or without remote employees, professional relationships are often built outside of the office. Give your employees the opportunity to meet up in real life. Incentivize teams with travel-based rewards, bring everyone together to celebrate company milestones, or hold an in-person kickoff at the beginning of the year. As your employees make personal connections and strengthen bonds with team members, the company’s retention and engagement numbers are bound to flourish.
6. Get Creative
If you don’t have budget to fly employees across the country to meet in person - don’t fear. There are plenty of creative ways to bring your workforce together remotely. Assign new hires a “buddy” who is responsible for checking in on them and offering assistance as they get settled, organize local meetups in hubs where multiple employees are based, or launch a mentorship program where senior employees offer ongoing advice to employees who are early on in their career. There are countless ways to bring people together - you just have to think outside of the box.
7. Embrace Quirks
Once you start hiring a distributed workforce, don’t be surprised if different locations develop their own unique styles. While you want to establish overarching culture norms based on company values, “subcultures” always exist and are actually important to employee engagement. Regional differences inform how employees express themselves, and every city has its own character. Don’t worry about small differences—in the long run, these will make your workplace all the more vibrant.
It may be a challenging at first, but a strong company culture is self-replicating. If you follow these tips, you’ll be able to foster a company culture that stretches across your disparate workforce.