Employee Engagement & Retention

How to Build a Better Culture for Remote Teams

By Clayton Spangle

Last updated: Feb 15, 2023

    Table of contents

Company culture is a hot topic in the startup world but how do you foster a strong team for a remote organization? Let's explore in this guide.

Company culture has the power to make or break a team. A positive, fun and inclusive environment can help employees to feel more motivated and comfortable around their colleagues, leading to better work and happier teams. On the other hand, a poor culture can lead to disconnected teams, toxic conditions and high turnover.

But is it possible to create a strong culture for a team of remote workers and is it even as important when everyone is at home? Short answer: absolutely. Remote and hybrid teams are well on their way to becoming the new norm and therefore it's necessary to foster connections and values that don’t just stay in the office but extend to the home.

Read more: Should Startups Prioritize Remote Work?

Although a positive company culture looks different for every organization, this guide will walk you through the steps every company needs to follow in order to cultivate a winning culture for remote teams.

1. Hire the Right Employees

Quality teams start with quality team members. Careless, unprofessional employees are never going to contribute to a healthy company culture. So before anything else, make sure you’re hiring the right people who uphold the same values you’d like to encourage.

One of the best ways to do this is by taking advantage of online job posting sites targeted at remote positions, such as:

This will help you narrow your search and find the kinds of employees your remote team needs to thrive. Additionally, it is important to keep in mind that in order to create an inclusive workplace where employees from all over the world feel comfortable and safe, an organization must hire staff coming from diverse set of backgrounds.

Learn more: How to make diversity a priority in recruiting

2. Optimize the Onboarding Phase

Joining a remote team can be scary for a new hire. If they feel like an outsider, they aren’t going to offer much warmth in return. But if they’re comfortable and at ease with their teammates, they’ll be more likely to dive right in, get productive, and help improve morale for everyone.

So use the onboarding phase to make them feel at home in their new team. Introduce them to their colleagues and try to foster meaningful connections from day one.

Read more: How to Design a Unified Employee Onboarding Process

3. Prioritize Communication

To build a strong remote team culture, effective communication will have to be a front-and-center priority. That doesn’t happen by accident, though—not when employees spend little or no time in a shared physical office.

Fortunately, there are tools you can use to help improve and encourage cross-functional communication, such as:

By leveraging the right tools, you can keep your remote team on the same page, even if they never set foot in the same office.

4. Promote a Shared Vision

In order for a remote team to truly come together, they need a shared vision to rally around. So start by establishing what that vision should be, then communicate it clearly—and often—to your employees. Get everyone on the same page.

And whenever possible, point out how each team member is helping the company reach its goals and fulfill its mission. Give them a reason to take pride in their hard work.

5. Establish Regular Rituals

Unlike a traditional office, remote teams don’t have a water cooler, break room, or meeting hall. But by establishing long-distance traditions, you can capture some of the camaraderie that those kinds of locations encouraged.

To do that, you’ll need to schedule regular virtual events such as:

  • Stand-ups
  • Retrospectives
  • 1:1 meetups
  • Brainstorming sessions

It doesn’t have to be all about business, though. In fact, it shouldn’t be. Just as traditional employees often bond through conversations about topics unrelated to their jobs, remote employees need a chance to get to know each other on a more personal level.

They’re already coworkers. Ideally, you want to help them become friends. So make time for some casual hangouts and team-building exercises, such as:

  • Virtual “breakfasts”
  • Lunch and learns
  • Trivia nights
  • Silly games like “Two Truths and a Lie” or “Would You Rather?”

If you can get the whole team chatting, laughing, and unwinding together, you’ll be well on your way to building a better remote team culture.

6. Set Ground Rules

Any time you have a group of people working together—whether in-person or remotely—there’s bound to be conflict. It doesn’t take much to cause a rift in the team, either. A single thoughtless remark on a Zoom call or poorly worded Slack message can cause offense and lead to grudges and division.

And that’s when it’s accidental. In other situations, employees may intentionally insult a coworker or show prejudice.

To avoid this, your remote team needs clear standards for how people should communicate. This is a must-have for every professional environment, virtual or otherwise.

Establish some ground rules to ensure that everyone speaks respectfully to (and about) one another in every context. Then, share them with the whole team so everyone knows exactly what’s expected of them—and what lines they can’t cross.

7. Lead by Example

Shaping company culture always starts at the top, and remote team culture is no exception. Your remote team looks up to you as their example—and “do as I say, not as I do” won’t get you far.

So be sure to practice what you preach. Follow the rules you’ve set, treat others with respect, and do your best to cultivate a healthy company culture. By walking the walk yourself, you can help your team fall into step behind you.

8. Create an Org Chart

The better your team members know each other, the easier it will be for them to connect and promote unity. And while that would normally be much harder from a distance, creating an org chart for your company can help.

One of the many benefits of org charts is that they function as a visual directory of an organization. At the click of a button, any employee can find their colleagues’ names, photos, and professional profiles.

In addition, most org charts include a brief bio for each employee with some basic personal information, such as their:

  • Backgrounds
  • Hobbies
  • Interests
  • Work styles
  • Role and responsibilities

…all of which can help remote workers form deeper connections and better understand the work their colleagues do.

To learn more about how a public org chart can help you improve your company culture, see here: Why Companies Should Have a Public Org Chart

Or, if you’re ready to start taking advantage of the benefits of a public org today, sign up for The Org.

Want to start creating your own free org chart?

Create your own free org chart today!

Show off your great team with a public org chart. Build a culture of recognition, get more exposure, attract new customers, and highlight existing talent to attract more great talent. Click here to get started for free today.

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