Top Tips for Building an Awesome Remote Company Culture
Are your team members excited to show up for work every day? Are they collaborating well with their colleagues to drive your mission and vision? Are they excitedly putting forward their ideas for new initiatives? Are they thriving in your culture? Are they likely to stay beyond a year? The answers to these questions all determine the level of your employee engagement.
Employee engagement and motivation are essential to the success of your business.
If your team members aren’t engaged with their work, you’ll likely see a decrease in both morale and output – both things that you’re looking to avoid.
The world of work has been transformed in the past two years
We all know that the pandemic has transformed the way we work. The last two years have seen most companies across the globe move from an office-based to a fully remote-work setup, which has meant that teams have had to adapt. And even today, most are adopting a hybrid approach.
Arguably with less time spent in the office, it’s more difficult to build a distinctive company culture and boost engagement.
Before the pandemic, 10Clouds was a remote-friendly company, although our offices were still used by many employees. But when COVID started, we became remote-first. We’re proud to say that this transformation went very smoothly for us, and according to our employee feedback surveys, 100% of respondents stated that we’re the best in the market at achieving an effective remote-work transition. We’d like to share our top tips with you!
Tips on boosting engagement in remote mode
We wanted to share some tips with you on how to make your communication absolutely stellar in a remote set-up, and in doing so reduce your turnover, boost morale and help your team’s productivity sky-rocket!
1. Invest in knowledge sharing
According to The Work Institute, for ten consecutive years, lack of career development has been listed as the top reason for why people leave their jobs. This is why investing in knowledge sharing is not only the best way to engage your employees, but also a top method for reducing churn. There are many ways to share knowledge, through both internal and external channels.
At 10Clouds, we have regular 10C Lunches, in which employees are encouraged to share their knowledge on subjects in which they’ve developed a certain level of expertise. We also have regular external training sessions on key areas of focus. Recently we’ve been collectively learning about the intricacies of DeFi. We attend top conferences on areas of knowledge that are important to us, such as the Consensus blockchain conference in Texas, or the annual DesignWays.
2. Empower your employees
A recent report from Salesforce has revealed that, “employees who feel their voice is heard are 4.6 times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work.”
Many companies work towards empowering their customers to achieve the goals that they’ve set for themselves. It therefore makes sense that you practice what you preach.
Empowering your employees means making sure that they’re involved in the decision-making about not only their personal targets, but also those of the team.
It also means giving them access to all the information and tools they need to do their job properly, and encouraging them to voice their views on work-related topics without fear of negative consequences.
At 10Clouds, we involve our employees in team OKRs and also in personal targets. We want to make sure that every team members’ voice is heard and that they’re satisfied with what’s expected of them.
“I would rate 10Clouds 11 out of 10 on work freedom. For the past year, I’ve worked from 7 countries, including Asia and everything carried on as normal. The working hours and flexibility in the PDM team are very high. Our ultimate goal is always to meet the needs of the client and the team and outside that, we have full freedom to work how we like.”
Anonymous, 10Clouds Employee Survey
3. Strive for super clear, transparent communication
Transparent communication is the key to generating trust among your employees, which is why it’s crucial that everyone is on the same page, particularly when it comes to company and team targets. Setting such targets (be they in OKR format or any other) makes you accountable to yourself, and all your internal stakeholders, which is why it’s also crucial to communicate progress against these targets. It’s important to be honest if things have not gone to plan, and discuss what can be done to ensure that it doesn’t happen in the future.
If your company is of a given size, it’s worth hiring a dedicated person for inter-company communication. At 10Clouds, our Internal Comms Manager brings our communication in a remote environment to a much higher level and provides useful comms training for teams across the business.
It’s also worth considering the adoption of a policy of open communication. This is what we use at 10Clouds and it means that anyone can contact anyone else in the business without any official processes or formalities. This is great when it comes to building inter-team collaboration and knowledge sharing.
Good communication is also important for establishing that everyone is on the same page in terms of what’s expected of them. All team members should understand the ultimate goal and vision of each project, and the steps involved in getting there.
At 10Clouds, Product Delivery Managers are responsible for ensuring that individual tasks are completed on time and on budget. They may also act as a point of contact or a sounding board to share ideas and to provide feedback. Having a documented workflow means that everyone is on the same page and can have an at-a-glance view of how the project is progressing at any time.
“I believe that having a central place to store all project information, and to be able to easily assign tasks from one team member to another, is crucial to the success of any team. It also plays a vital part in employee engagement, as it builds teamwork and motivation.”
Marta Klepka, Head of Growth, 10Clouds
4. Select the best communication tools for your needs and use them to good effect
We would recommend selecting one good general communication tool, and one trusted project management tool. At 10Clouds, we use Slack for our everyday internal communication, and JIRA for all our project work. There is a huge range of other project management and comms tools out there, so be sure to shop around and find out what works for you.
But remember that while choosing the right tools is a great first step, you need to learn how to use them to good effect. That’s why it’s useful to set a few ground rules, as we do in 10Clouds:
- We have a framework for remote communication which allows for asynchronous work. This means that we cannot expect everyone to answer on Slack immediately. We always give deadlines by which a response is needed, which means that we’re able to set mutual expectations.
- We set priorities depending on how urgent communication is. For the most urgent things we pick up the phone - next comes a text message, then Slack, then email.
- We’ve established an etiquette for communication, which includes given time slots for responses.
- We introduce fixed time slots for ‘deep work’ - this is a dedicated time in the week in which employees cannot be disturbed with meetings.
“Everyone at 10Clouds communicates really well through Slack. It’s difficult to think of something to improve here!”
Anonymous, 10Clouds Employee Survey
5. Set clear meeting times and regular check ins
This depends on what work methodology you’re using. If you’re working in Sprints, you might set up a regular daily catch-up which works across different time zones, and a longer weekly or bi-weekly web meeting. If it’s possible, it’s good for all your team members to have a longer meeting at the start of each project. Not only is it useful for establishing responsibilities, but it facilitates better long term communication.
It’s also important to have a clear meeting culture. At 10Clouds we always ensure that there is an agenda and a goal for every meeting. We also dedicate time at the beginning of the meeting for a ‘warm up’ or smalltalk, meaning that we don’t have to feel stressed that our meeting time will overrun. We also try to shorten meeting times as much as possible.
6. Use any ‘bench time’ wisely
The ‘bench’ has negative connotations and has traditionally been a pretty undesirable place to be. But at 10Clouds, we’re striving to make the ‘bench’ brilliant! Any of our team members who find themselves between commercial projects, are engaged in activities to either broaden their knowledge in a given area, or to support an NGO which happens to be struggling with tech challenges.
10Clouds is one of the founding members of Tech To The Rescue, an organization which connects IT providers with charities in need of digital support. We’ve recently completed a project supporting Altruisto, an animal rights’ charity in building a new landing page to improve conversions.
7. Offer psychological support
For many people the last two years have been among the hardest that they’ve ever lived through, which is why it’s crucial that their mental wellbeing is being attended to.
At 10Clouds, we're using Wellbee as our Mental Helpdesk provider. We want to make sure that we all have access to a trusted person with whom we can discuss our thoughts, feelings and worries.
Wellbee provides us with:
- A range of trained and certified therapists with many different specializations
- In-person or online therapy sessions
- The ability to hold therapy sessions in a range of different languages.
There are many counseling and psychological support providers out there, so do take a look if you haven’t already.
8. Have regular in-person socials (and try a workation!)
But there’s no denying it - when it comes to bonding, no amount of effective remote-work tools quite beats an in-person meeting! That’s why at 10Clouds, every team has quarterly socials, in which we get together, usually for a couple of days in our head office, to talk through our goals and targets for the coming quarter - and most importantly - to have a meal and a few drinks, and to truly get to know each other as people outside of the work context.
And if you’ve never done it before - why not try a workation? As the name suggests, workations are a combination of work and a vacation, and are an ideal way to bond in a non-work environment. Not sure how to plan one? We have all the tips you need to succeed.
"I believe a workation is a marvelous idea for all remote working employees. The time I’ve spent with 10Clouders was efficiently used for various workshops, brainstorming, and articulating the precise steps for future activities!"
Daiji Kimura, Sales Development Representative
9. Remember to celebrate success
Success is a crucial part of employee engagement, which is why we pay so much attention to it at 10Clouds. We use company wide events to recognize the achievement of colleagues who have gone above and beyond the call of duty. We also have a dedicated Slack channel used for praise, and we encourage all employees to use it. You can read more about how we celebrate success here.
A great remote work culture is about trust, effective tools, and of course…fun!
A successful and effective remote work culture should be formed around each of the above elements. The idea is that although your team is dispersed over different countries and time zones, they work together in a commonly agreed way. It’s also important to build a culture of trust, because some team leaders still have a tendency towards being concerned that their colleagues aren’t working hard enough, or well enough, because of the fact that they don’t see them in person in the office. Finally, don’t forget to have fun! There’s nothing that quite beats an in-person meeting and the ability to celebrate success together.
Think it could be the right workplace for you?
We’re always on the lookout for incredible people to join us! Check out a list of our latest positions here.