You skipped breakfast today because you were running late (again) and needed more time for your commute to work. When you arrive, you walk back into the shared kitchen to pour your first cup of coffee of the day, and that’s when you see it: the coveted “Please help yourself!” note left by a large box of fresh donuts. Score one for friendly coworkers!
Shared breakfast offerings, singing off-key during an birthday party, having a drink with your coworkers at a local restaurant’s happy hour—these are all internal culture-building activities common in traditional in-person work environments. They all serve to strengthen relationships amongst the team. But how can you replicate these moments for remote workers? Is it possible to nurture internal company culture and community when more people than ever are working from home with no return-to-office in sight?
We can’t offer a one-size-fits-all solution to these questions, but we can confidently share what works for our fully remote digital agency and design team at Function.
The Future of Remote Workplace Company Culture
Internal work culture is just as important—if not more important—in a primarily remote work environment. Creating a sense of community amongst coworkers is an essential step in producing a positive employee experience, which will help support, retain, and inspire the talented people who make up your team.
Remote work is an evolving industry norm that is here to stay. Over the past two years, as companies everywhere were challenged to rethink their methods for shaping internal culture, we at Function were fine-tuning our own approach to fostering a positive, supportive, and fun culture for our team.
Here’s a snapshot of a few strategies we’ve learned along the way:
1. Create a strong foundation
Having a robust internal company culture starts with a strong foundation to build upon. Communicate about your organization’s values, goals, and best practices clearly and often with employees so you can be assured that everyone feels that they’re on the same team working toward common goals.
For teams that communicate asynchronously, consider publishing documentation online about your company’s core values, goals, and best practices that can be accessed at any time for quick reference. Having this information together in a single, accessible place will help create a strong base for your company to build upon to best fit the needs of your employees.
2. Make time for casual connections
Create spaces where team members can casually connect. When video fatigue and burnout begin to hit, sometimes the antidote can be as simple as making the time to talk about nothing: movies, music, recent vacations, book recommendations, or anything non-work-related to cleanse the palate. Letting your employees know that they are valued outside of their responsibilities at work will help foster an environment that is more empathetic, empowered, and collaborative for all team members.
Make the time for casual conversations or check-ins by:
- Reserving the first (or last) 5-10 minutes of a regularly-scheduled team call for casual conversations and updates
- Forming a new channel on Slack or Microsoft Teams where anyone can join, connect, and share about non-work-related matters
- Holding informal meetings centered around a group activity such as cooking, exercising, or gaming.
At Function, our culture thrives through connection. Whether it’s sharing about our weekend trips, favorite hobbies, families, new music, or tasty recipes, we look forward to our standing water cooler chats at the start of each week where we have dedicated time and space to connect over non-work-related matters. A picture is worth a thousand words, but an emoji reaction speaks volumes.
3. Collaborate creatively
Even though various members of your team may be in completely different time zones, you can still find opportunities to collaborate in creative ways across small groups or asynchronously with your whole team: write and edit a document live with web-based tools and multiple members on your team, hold a group work session over a video call, or utilize a work management platform to track and share progress about ongoing projects.
Do you want to make employees feel as though they are all working together? Invite everyone to participate in curating a shared office playlist, and encourage team members to continue to add to it throughout the year. At Function, each new year brings the start of a new playlist, and as a result, our dedicated team members have compiled our favorite work jams across many volumes for the entire team (and you!) to enjoy. Check it out now for a taste of what it may feel like to be part of the Function studio team:
4. Provide support
Nurture positive relationships by providing support to your team members. Leaders should be open and available to employees to identify any areas in which a company could offer more support, provide clarity, or otherwise better adapt to the evolving needs of the team. If you’re a leader, let everyone know the “virtual door” is open for transparent communication, and ask for feedback to provide an open, safe place where people can share wins and struggles as a team.
Model the company culture that you would like to see as well as be engaged in. Although culture emerges naturally and will shift over time, strong cultures begin with clear, intentional leadership from the top to serve as a true north for the rest of the group to follow. Every single person can impact a company’s internal culture in a special way, but leaders have the unique opportunity to cultivate the foundation of culture, empower employees to accomplish shared goals, and show team members how they and their work are valued as individual members of the larger organization.
Whether you’re looking for creative solutions to revamp your organization’s internal culture, or you’re building it from the ground up, we hope that sharing some of what we’ve learned will inspire you to be the change that you want to see in your own company culture. Interested in learning more about what it’s like to work at FXN? Explore our blog articles, check out our current job listings, or contact us for more information.