Will you lose your sense of culture if you abandon your office space? It doesn't have to be the case. In fact, if you have the right setup, it's entirely possible that your remote workplace will create a better company culture. Here's how.
1. Remote workplaces provide more varied interactions.
By the very nature of being remote you are set up to interact with everyone in your company at a moment's notice, with no boundaries. Every person is just a click away, regardless of what department they're in, what position they have, or where they are located.
Interdepartmental communication leads to a more tight-knit team environment and gives employees more insight into the company as a whole--something that is hard to achieve when everyone is confined to their own cubicle day in, day out.
2. Express yourself by using apps and plugins to keep things fun.
While going remote limits the amount of day-to-day banter within your workplace, there are a handful of apps that can keep things fun. At my company, we've found that Donut, Guggy, and Disco are some of the best Slack plugins for fostering company culture.
Donut is a plugin that pairs two random team members every week to get to know each other on a more personal level (we tend to opt for a 10-15 minute video chat). And because its random, it leads to interactions that may never happen otherwise--the CEO could be chatting with someone who was just onboarded two days ago.
Guggy is a simple plugin that creates a gif based on any phrase you give it. While it may sound silly, there is a certain amount of fun that needs to be peppered in to keep things relaxed in any work environment. Go ahead and type /guggy "nailed it" and see what happens.
Disco (formerly known as Growthbot) is a plugin that allows people to give each other "props" in Slack when they've done a good job. Not only is this a nice morale boost, but you can take it to the next level by using Propfuel get actionable data. Propfuel can keep track of who is getting props throughout your company and send out surveys to gauge employee morale.
The point with these plugins is that a remote work culture doesn't have to be stale. There are simple steps you can take to create a fun, tight-knit community--and a lot of this wouldn't be possible in a traditional office environment.
3. Better control over distractions.
It's no secret that working in close proximity to the same people everyday can get on your nerves. Whether it's an annoying mannerism or that tuna sandwich John brings for lunch everyday, it's hard to avoid and can lead to interpersonal problems later on.
On the flipside, working remotely tends to show you the best attributes of your coworkers while hiding their peculiarities. It's hard to get annoyed with someone when you're only chatting with them for an hour or two throughout the week.
Not only does this help with general morale, but it also increases productivity. In an office, it's hard to stop people from coming to your desk and chatting with you. But with tools like Slack, Trello, and Calendly you can control your distractions by delaying or preventing notifications and interactions as necessary.
4. People like freedom.
A happy wife makes a happy life. The same goes for teams. Far and wide, the largest benefit we've seen with a remote workplace is that people just like it. They like the ability to travel on a whim, working from a plane, a beach, or a coffee shop in Barcelona. We have a handful of contractors that have completely embraced the digital nomad lifestyle--and, big surprise, they're having the time of their lives.
The simplest way to foster a great company culture is to ensure your employees are happy. People like the freedom to work where they choose and avoid the dreaded 9-5 commute.
There are limitations
Let's not beat around the bush--there are limitations to a completely remote workspace. There's something about that face-to-face, real-life interaction that just can't be beat. At Leverage, we've found that quarterly retreats or get-togethers are essential to keeping our culture tight-knit. This seems to be the perfect balance between being remote and getting the benefits of working in-person.
Test it out
There's a simple test you can do to ensure that your remote culture is thriving. Get together with your team once a quarter, once a year, whatever it may be--and when you meet these people for the first time... It shouldn't feel like it. During our first team retreat, we were all "meeting" each other for the first time, but it felt like we had known each other for years.
The reality is that if you have a solid team and you throw in a few tools and tricks, it won't matter whether you're communicating through a screen or across desks. Your culture will thrive regardless. The key is to make sure your employees are happy, they're communicating, and you're all getting together in person from time to time.