Staying Connected Through Screens: Building Company Culture Remotely

Abby Haralson

“Can everyone see my screen?” You get a nod or two, maybe a thumbs up, and if you’re lucky, someone unmutes to tell you, “Yep!” Questions followed by excruciating moments of silence, hours before you get a response to your email, uncertainty about whether your employees are using company time effectively—we’re no Picasso, but that might be painting the average remote work experience pretty well.

It seems to be the experience for lots of executives, considering the fact that 90% of companies will require their employees to return to the office in 2024. 

And it’s hard to argue that many companies are seeing improved revenue when employees come back (at least 72% of decision makers say so). On–premise work is essential for some industries—we wouldn’t have heart surgeries or Big Macs without it.

But employees have made it clear that they aren’t so keen to go back to the office. It costs them more money and gives them less time with their families or for other personal pursuits. Only one–third of HR professionals say employees are happy about returning to the workplace.

If you’re an executive or decision–maker who wants to do right by your employees but also wants to reach peak productivity, company culture is the answer. We know the words “remote work culture” are probably stamped on your brain after almost four years of WFH, but bear with us.

We think we have the answers you’re looking for to give your employees what they want and get the results you need.

Remote Work Culture and Productivity: Where Do They Connect?

As a decision–maker, you know that company culture is a living thing. It can change day by day, even a single comment at a meeting can shift it, and remote work culture isn’t any different. And just a quick note on culture in general: whether you’re actively working on it or not, it exists.

Your whole team can have your company values memorized and have training on them at every meeting or you can have no defined values at all. Either way, your culture is reflected in the people you hire, the way they treat clients, the quality of their work, and ultimately, your company’s success.

Culture is just like your health: whether you work on it or not, it’s there and impacts every second of your day. So, there’s our sermon on culture in general. But how does remote work culture lead to trustworthy employees, strong work ethic, and peak productivity?

It all starts with connection.

Connection —> trust —> accountability —>  productivity

As an executive or decision–maker, it’s your job to foster trust within your remote team. This means creating a safe space for open communication, practicing transparency in decision-making, and actively listening to your employees’ concerns and suggestions.

Employees also need strong connections with each other because without it, team members won’t feel any desire to help each other out, work towards a common goal, or hold each other accountable (which all impact productivity, and therefore, revenue).

So, the big question. How are these connections built when your employees only interact through screens? In our experience (over 50 team members in 12 states), we’ve found four practices to be absolutely essential to remote work culture. Steal our secrets, we dare you!

Four Practices to Build Your Remote or Hybrid Work Culture

Just to set the scene, our team is remote–first. We have employees in California, Florida and everywhere in between (literally RIGHT in between, we love our amazing employees in Kansas City, MO). We will never ask them to come back to our office in Utah, and here’s how we’ve done it:

  1. Extremely Clear Core Values

There are libraries full of books on core values. People take MBA courses on building company culture, so this is just our 30,000 foot view. Your company needs to have attributes that guide decision-making. They will determine who you hire, which is the most significant culture-shaping decision you’ll make.

Your core values should also guide how your employees interact with each other, with clients and customers, and with the work itself. These values need to be specific, actionable, and clearly communicated to everyone in the company. 

When hiring new employees, making decisions, or even just having team meetings, always refer back to these core values to ensure alignment and consistency.

  1. $50 Each Month to Serve Other People

This is our most vital practice for remote work culture (and our coolest, hands–down). We give each employee $50 every month to serve other people or contribute to a cause they care about. Every week, we give employees the floor to share their experiences.

You will not believe how powerful it is to hear your coworker talk about the family in the neighborhood they helped for Christmas. Or learn about the man on the side of the road that your team member befriended that week. Our team has met long-lost family members, helped people pay for life-changing expenses, and so much more.

The return and report aspect is vital for remote work culture—without it, the connection fizzles. But with it, your employees learn more about each other than they ever would in office. We attribute this program—we call it Build Then Bless—to our 56% sales close rate (the industry–leading rate is 30%) and our 2023 Top Workplaces Award.

But most importantly, we love that this program has gone so much further than insane productivity and team trust. Employees are sharing the way it’s fundamentally changed the way they live, even the way their kids live. One team member’s daughter has started to ask how they’re going to build and bless that day.

If you want to build a stronger connection, give your employees the resources to positively impact the lives of other people and then talk about it.

  1. Consistent Leadership Check-Ins

Make it clear to employees that this is not a pop quiz on their performance. Team leads, or however your company structure is set up, should meet as often as you see fit to simply “check–in” with your employees. 

It’s a time for the employee to share concerns, ask questions, talk about what they did that weekend or what they’re excited about, and just chat.

These check-ins are not only an opportunity for employees to feel heard and valued, but also a chance for leaders to demonstrate transparency and build trust. It shows that you care about your employees as individuals, beyond just their work performance.

This is especially important for remote work culture because in–office, your employees would have the chance to make small talk and catch up, but remote work changes that a bit. By scheduling consistent check-ins, you can bridge that gap and maintain a strong connection with your team.

  1. Be a Team Member, Not Just an Exec

You’re a regular human being, just like your employees. Surprise—it’s okay to show it! Allowing your team members to see the human side of you can help them feel more connected and invested in the company’s success.

Play your favorite music as people join a team meeting, send out a funny meme or GIF in your weekly email update, or share personal stories during company events. It’s okay to randomly message an employee to see how they’re doing, prank your CFO, and welcome each employee by name as they join a call.

By the way, we understand that if you run a large company, not all of these options will be easy. But hey, you’ve made it this far so you’re probably up for the challenge!

Your team will appreciate the authenticity and feel more connected to you as a leader. These little moments help remind employees that they are part of a team, and not just isolated individuals working on their own.

Your Company Can Be Remote and Be Successful

Those two things are not mutually exclusive. Your team members don’t need more corporate retreats or team building activities that try to “force” connections through ice–breaker questions. They need genuine, authentic ways to build trust and connection with each other, even through screens.

Remote work culture, including hybrid teams, is here to stay. But that doesn’t mean it’s a death sentence for company culture and productivity. By focusing on building connections, fostering trust, and creating a positive work environment, your team can thrive in the remote world.

Talk to your employees—we would guess that the majority of them love the freedom that comes from work flexibility. If you create ways to keep remote or hybrid work and make the connection even better than it would be in–person, you’ll have an unbeatable team.

Help Your Employees Build Then Bless™

Build Then Bless™ has been the key to our remote work culture. It impacts everything from our team unity to client retention. If you’re concerned about trusting your employees to do their best work, strengthen your connection through Build Then Bless™.

You’ll see employee satisfaction improve, sales rates go up, and most importantly, people’s lives blessed. Get in touch to learn more about the platform and what it would look like for your company.

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