Physically Remote but Culturally Connected: Keeping Company Culture Alive while Working from Home

A strong organizational culture is paramount to a company’s success. In its article ‘Understanding and Developing Organizational Culture’, The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) observes that a strong culture is the common denominator among the most successful companies. When there is a clearly articulated culture, employees know what is expected of them and how they should conduct themselves. They have a benchmark to guide them in their responses to the different situations that arise each day. As the SHRM article points out, “Organizational culture sets the context for everything an enterprise does.”

Cultivating and reinforcing a company culture is extremely challenging when a majority of the staff is not present in the same space. Working from home can have an adverse effect on an organization’s culture and so extra care should be taken to ensure that all staff members remain culturally connected regardless of where they are located. It may sound like a huge ask, but keeping a company culture pervasive even in remote working situations is not that tough. It just takes some remaining of what is usually done, giving these a virtual twist. Here are a few tips to guide you:

  • Touch base everyday
  • Daily check-ins are important to simulate a sense of togetherness and community. It takes the place of the physical greetings as colleagues walk towards their desks and the ‘how-do-you-dos’ that are exchanged while grabbing that first coffee. Check-ins can be done through video calls and by chat. They do not have to be long-drawn-out affairs. In fact, short and snappy is a much more desirable start to the work day.

  • Be responsive
  • Teams are used to being able to either swivel their chair around or walk to a colleague’s desk and check up on stuff. Remote working takes away that element of immediacy. This can be replicated by being responsive and available, particularly on the part of team leaders and management. Try to reply to colleagues as quickly as time and work permits. If caught up in something urgent, drop a quick one-liner mentioning that you are currently engaged and will get back ASAP. Acknowledging a colleague and their messages goes a long way, even if you are unable to provide the necessary information at that very moment.

  • Sustain team spirit through updates
  • Keep the collaborative ethos going by scheduling regular updates. When working on a project, prepare a timeline that also factors in status updates. In this way each team member has a chance to let everyone know what they have been doing and where they are currently at. They also have the opportunity to reach out for advice or help and respond to others who seek their assistance. Keep it reasonable and avoid overdoing it. The last thing you need is for staff to be inundated with so many meetings that they do not have time to do the actual work!

  • Applaud accomplishments
  • Celebrate achievements, no matter how small - actually, especially the smaller ones. Working from home can be exceptionally lonely and isolating. Many people have often complained about feeling invisible and undervalued. Replace the physical pat on the back or handshake with an email or message. Make your appreciation of your colleagues and their efforts visible.

  • Mark personal occasions
  • Be it a birthday, anniversary or even the demise of a loved one, congratulate or commiserate accordingly. Blanket company-wide greetings are nice. Personalised emails or texts are even more valuable and touching. The thought really does count and it makes a person feel valued when their special day is remembered. If your organization has been in the habit of presenting gifts on birthdays, maybe within a team or unit, then do not let go of that practice. This is what online delivery is for!

  • Continue with the get-togethers and socialising
  • Just because you are not gathered in one place does not mean you cannot still carry on with those after-work drinks. You just need to move it to a virtual platform. Set up a time and send out an invite. Get together and socialize, laugh and joke. Be mindful, though, that this does not morph into another meeting. Maybe make it a rule that work topics are off limits! Keep the camaraderie alive digitally.

At Applova, all employees are introduced to the company culture on their very first day. From then on, every single member of staff lives this culture by upholding its values. Because everyone imbibes these ideals, the Applova culture permeates all work contexts, be it onsite or remote. The Applova culture is a powerful enabling force, keeping the entire team united and fostering a sense of community regardless of where each person is.


Published on March 08, 2021

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