Remote employees are increasingly common as technology improves. It is convenient for companies and employees to work remotely, but there may be roadblocks with building a successful company with remote workers! A shared company culture is a goal of most companies, but may be difficult to achieve with a remote workforce. Company culture may seem like a small piece of any business, but companies with a strong culture have a lower turnover rate and higher profits.
An employee culture in a remote work environment will not happen naturally. Coworkers will not see each other in person and will not build relationships with one and other like they may if they were working together. Many companies use team-building exercises and group activities to build rapport among coworkers; activities like that will not happen in remote work environments so you will need to get creative to build culture in other ways.
Companies can encourage technology use among employees to help build relationships and a more cohesive environment. Technology like Google Hangouts or video chats can give employees a chance to have a real-time conversation with one and other. Software such as GoToMeeting can make a bigger team meeting possible. A daily or weekly check-in telephone call may help build team rapport as well, while also helping employees stay accountable to their tasks.
Employees who work for you remotely are not there because of the office location, the free gym onsite, the well-stocked employee kitchen, or for your office parties. They are working for you just because of the work! Work that is interesting, valuable, and rewarding will lead to engaged employees who take pride in their contributions, creating a culture of invested employees.
If your company is mostly office-based with a few remote workers, make sure to focus heavily on your remote culture. It may seem backwards, but focusing more on your in-office culture makes remote workers feel left out of the loop, less important, and less accountable for their work. One way to create a level playing field where out of office employees feel equal to in-office ones is to have some of the company higher ups working remotely as well.
With some planning, your company can have a strong company culture no matter where your employees work!