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The positive impact of remote working on company culture—tips, tricks, and busted myths
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The positive impact of remote working on company culture—tips, tricks, and busted myths

Remote culture can be as good, if not better, than in-person. Here’s some myth-busting and best practices to help you make that a reality.

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Seeing as 17th-century Flemish paintings depict children blowing soap bubbles, you can safely assume that bubbles have been used as entertainment for at least 400 years. 

But it’s one thing to play with them. Being stuck in one is another matter altogether. 

Which leads us to the impact of remote working on company culture. 

Working remotely can feel like being in a bubble at times—you're physically separated from your colleagues and don’t interact in the same way as you would in the office. But that doesn’t necessarily make it worse, just different.

In fact, with the right setup, remote or hybrid working can be as good as, if not better than, in-person. With the right tools and support, people feel connected to each other instead of in isolated bubbles. That means leaders of small remote teams need to be intentional about creating an environment and culture where people can really thrive, no matter where they sit

In this article, we’ll bust some of the myths about remote work and show you how to create a rich, dynamic remote or hybrid company environment that actually improves company culture by fostering connections and effective collaboration. 

Want remote working to feel spontaneous, authentic, and frictionless?
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How can remote working improve culture? 

Remote and hybrid work arrangements can significantly improve your company culture by giving your teams the opportunity to shape the culture that works for them. 

When you’re not sitting in the same room, it also forces you to be more thoughtful and selective with your internal communications. For example, with async communication you can’t rely on in-person cues or explanations to help get the message across. That means you need to think more carefully about what and how you communicate. 

Remote working can also improve culture through: 

  • Greater diversity. Remote work arrangements mean you can hire people from anywhere without having to consider their commute or location. This gives you a wider pool of more diverse candidates and fills your team with broader perspectives and experiences, which can elevate your culture by breaking out of a location-based bubble. 
  • Better work-life balance. When employees enjoy work-life balance, company goals are met without sacrificing flexible working arrangements that suit their needs and lifestyle. People who are able to draw boundaries are more likely to be engaged, productive, and loyal.  
  • Increased employee attraction and retention. People are happier and stay with their employers longer when they have flexibility to work where and how they want. And a staggering 62% of remote workers prefer organizations that offer this option.  
  • More opportunities to break out of your bubble. With the right culture and tools in place, remote workers can enjoy more opportunities to interact with people outside their physical location. This is because it’s easy to communicate with people from other offices and departments online, learn from their experiences, and boost cross-functional collaboration. To make this happen, you need project-based communication channels and initiatives so people can communicate with others they might not reach out to otherwise. 

Now that you know how remote working can improve company culture, let’s take a look at some common myths about remote work environments.  

5 myths about remote work environments

Company culture doesn’t cease to exist when you move to a remote or hybrid work arrangement. Internal norms, values, and best practices are still created and enacted—they’re just not dictated by the same routines and systems as in the office.  

This gives you the chance to write your own rules and define your culture. But to do that, first, you need to understand some common myths about remote working. 

Remote working leads to siloed information

Shifting to a remote or hybrid setup means you may need to choose different tools for connecting with your team than the ones you used in a physical office environment. Otherwise, it’s like trying to blow bubbles with a fork. 

But if you use the right software, the myth of remote work siloing information quickly evaporates. You just need tools that prioritize true collaboration with features that let you share more than just your screen and keep all your information in one place.

Pro tip: Use Switchboard’s persistent meeting rooms to save all your work as you go along and eliminate information silos. Keep all your files, documents, apps, and browsers in one persistent meeting room, so important information doesn’t slip through the cracks.
Screenshot of Switchboard virtual workspace with multiple files
Switchboard lets everyone in your workspace access important information in your persistent meeting room before, during, and after your meeting. Source: Switchboard

Interactions and communications feel transactional

You might have heard that remote communications don’t carry the same weight as in-person interactions. But 46% of remote workers claim they’re more aware of what’s expected of them in a remote environment than when they worked in a physical office. This is because virtual meeting platforms let everyone stay connected and keep their finger on the pulse.  

This means, when done right, people can still build meaningful relationships, enjoy a sense of purpose, and get work done together while working remote.   

No opportunity for spontaneous interactions 

Sometimes, remote work can open up more opportunities for spontaneous team interactions, not less. For example, remote teams can play virtual team-building games at the start of their meetings or use apps like Donut to randomly pair employees for internal coffee dates: things you wouldn’t necessarily do in a physical office. 

Also, depending on the virtual workspace software your team uses, you can hop into collaborative brainstorming sessions with your team or see who’s active for a quick huddle. In an in-person office, setting up similar get-togethers often requires more logistics to literally get everyone in the room at the same time.  

Remote employees feel isolated and disconnected 

As mentioned above, remote arrangements can make people feel like they’re working in separate bubbles. The good news is, 87% of remote workers can keep a sense of belonging to their organization despite working from home. That’s why it's up to you to create opportunities for spontaneous interaction and relationship-building. 

No work-life balance 

Although remote work makes it easier for the lines between your personal and work life to get blurred, remote working environments certainly come along with freedoms in-person offices simply can’t offer. For example, when you can work from anywhere, you can live closer to your family, which makes life a lot easier if you have caregiver responsibilities. And, of course, there’s the chance to save all that commuting time every day. 

For example, a 2022 Future Forum survey found that remote knowledge workers were the most satisfied with work-life balance, whereas in-office workers were the least satisfied, while hybrid workers were in the middle. This was also true for questions related to workplace stress and anxiety, and remote workers were about 20% happier than in-office ones. 

Here’s what a positive remote work culture looks like 

Now that we’ve busted some common myths about how remote work impacts company culture, let’s explore what a positive remote culture looks like—and how you can create your own. 

A well-designed virtual workspace 

Many companies put millions of dollars into designing a physical office that reflects their culture, inspires workers, and facilitates productivity and connection. But in the remote environment, some organizations rely on little more than tools like Slack, Zoom, and Google Workspace.

Instead of skimping it, your virtual workspace should give employees the tools they need to feel they're part of a flourishing company culture—and allow them to get work done. 

Here’s what you need: 

A thoughtful tech stack 

Make sure all team members—and the whole company—have the tools necessary to communicate and collaborate effectively. Choose these tools wisely so you don’t overwhelm everyone with notifications and app switching. When building your tech stack, you’ll want tools such as: 

  • Collaborative workspace like Switchboard that allow you to communicate and get work done together  
  • Project management tools like Asana to keep everything moving along on schedule 
  • Instant messaging tools like Slack to keep everyone in the loop 
  • Email tools like Gmail because, yep, you still need email (see below for why) 
  • Intranet tools like Notion to create knowledge wikis and share information 

All these can help you have useful, enjoyable interactions and create a healthy culture of communication and collaboration. 

Clear communication channels 

Part of making the most of your tech stack and improving company culture is knowing when and where to share different types of information. And when everyone understands how to use each channel, it helps prevent information silos. By keeping everyone on the same page, you’ll also increase employee engagement and collaboration.

To create clear communication channels, establish what each tool is for. For example: 

  • Switchboard for async and real-time brainstorming sessions, complex project updates, recurring meetings, and spontaneous conversations
  • Email for longer company updates or newsletters
  • Slack for quick updates, casual huddles, and team chat  
  • Project management tools like Monday for more time-sensitive project updates and workflow management communications 

A digital workspace where people can find each other 

A strong remote or hybrid culture requires a well-designed digital workspace where people can always find each other, get work done, and form close connections—whether they’re in a meeting or not. 

And while some people might miss working in a physical office, don’t be distracted by virtual office platforms with digital floor plans. What people are nostalgic for is a sense of belonging and connection to their team. That means you need a virtual collaboration tool that allows you all to work together in the same virtual place.

Pro tip: Use Switchboard as a home base for your remote or hybrid team. See when team members are active, hop into spontaneous brainstorming sessions, and collaborate side-by-side in video calls where you can share everything—not just your screen.
Screenshot of Switchboard virtual workspace with multiple files during a video call
Switchboard makes it easy to find everyone on your remote team—and build closer connections that add to your workplace culture. Source: Switchboard

Opportunities to connect and build relationships 

In both professional and social contexts, you need to help foster employee relationship-building. As much as you can, encourage team members to step out of their bubble and talk to their coworkers (and not just message them).

Keep remote teams engaged and connected with team-building activities like virtual scavenger hunts, virtual socials, “happy hours,” and icebreaker questions. While it may just feel like games, these types of more social interactions establish empathy and trust. Be sure to also host regular 1:1s with employees to see how they’re doing and how you can best support them. 

Treat relationship-building as a workplace goal and set KPIs to track progress and results. For example, if your objective is to boost company culture, you could put key results in place improve your employee satisfaction score. But don’t feel like you need to over-architect relationship building – if it doesn’t feel authentic, your team is likely to resist.

Pro tip: With Switchboard, you can add any type of virtual game or team-building exercise directly into your video conference and play side-by-side with your team.
Screenshot of Switchboard virtual workspace with Open URL box
Switchboard lets you upload all your virtual team-building activities right into your meeting room—and foster workplace friendships. Source: Switchboard

Create channels for feedback 

Remember the communication channels we mentioned earlier? Well, within those, you need to create spaces where your team can exchange both negative and positive feedback. You might, for instance, administer an anonymous Google survey asking for employee insights on company culture every quarter. Alternatively, you might make prompting team members to share candid feedback with their manager part of your performance review process. 

You can also share simple surveys and polls on Slack channels for more immediate (and anonymous-optional) feedback. 

Empower everyone to come up with ideas

Enable other people to come up with new ideas, as these shouldn’t just come from the top. Bottom-up ideas typically get more buzz and excitement—and definitely add to culture more than top-down ones

For truly candid insights, however, you need to encourage people to contribute their ideas while they’re still fresh. To empower everyone on your team to make their unique voice heard and add to your culture: 

  • Create a psychologically safe environment: Encourage open communication and build a culture where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and perspectives without fear of judgment or reprisals. Show you value their contributions and reward innovative thinking.
  • Encourage team brainstorming sessions and collaboration: This helps generate new ideas and boost employee morale, connectivity, and engagement. Especially since 92% of workers at collaborative companies say their work has value, compared to 50% in less collaborative companies. 
  • Set clear goals and objectives: Inspire team members to come up with their own ideas for achieving their goals. By giving them more agency over their growth plans, you can help your team focus their creative energy in a way that aligns with your organization's broader goals. 
  • Encourage experimentation: Create opportunities for employees to experiment with new ideas and approaches and work towards building a culture of experimentation and innovation.

Establish norms for async and real-time working 

Remote and hybrid companies rely on both async and real-time collaboration to get work done, especially when you have dispersed teams working across different time zones. That means you need to consider how and when you can best move projects along. 

To figure that out, you also need to know individuals’ preferred communication and collaboration styles. For example, one team member might be a night owl who prefers async communication. Another may require face-to-face collaboration during daytime working hours to feel productive. Understanding this can help bring your team closer and set reasonable working expectations. 

Once you know how you and your team operate best, democratize access to important information including projects, files, and accounts to make sure everyone can get to everything they need when it works for them. 

Pro tip: With Switchboard, you can populate your room with everything you need, including documents, images, PDFs, and emails, for async and real time collaboration. And you’ll never have to grant access or share a meeting link again—just hop in the room and start working anytime.
Screenshot of Switchboard virtual workspace with multiple files during a video call
Switchboard makes it easy to work with your team async or in real-time—and form collaborative relationships no matter the working arrangement. Source: Switchboard

Establish and live strong shared values 

As mentioned, a cohesive and connected team and culture all starts with leadership. Leaders of remote and hybrid teams need to set clear company values like:

  • Communication—so everyone knows what they need to do and why 
  • Radical candor—so people get feedback to help them grow 
  • Low ego—results and praise over blame 
  • Continuous learning—so everyone can grow and achieve even greater things 

Values like these help establish the right tone for all future (professional and playful) interactions. 

To help people feel even more comfortable and supported, you also need to set clear boundaries. For example, having a minimum time off requirement helps create a culture that doesn’t equate commitment to the company with overwork and burnout. This will help employees feel secure about taking time off when they need to, so they come back energized and ready to do their best work. 

Burst out of your remote bubble with Switchboard

Remote or hybrid working can be as good, or better, than in-person. But to achieve that and improve the employee experience, you need to help your team venture outside of any bubble they may find themselves in. 

This means being intentional about how you create your remote environment and culture, and supporting your employees with tools and processes that reflect their specific needs, so they can truly thrive. 

This includes creating channels for positive and negative feedback, outlining norms for async and real-time working, establishing strong values, and having a well-designed virtual workspace and tech stack. 

When you use a virtual workspace like Switchboard, you get features like persistent meeting rooms that let you share everything and save all your work, which makes collaboration easier and more productive. Add in the potential for spontaneous interactions, and your team won’t feel like they’re trapped in a bubble. 

Want remote working to feel spontaneous, authentic, and frictionless?
Switchboard makes it easy to work side-by-side with your remote team—and share more than your screen. 
Sign up for free.

Frequently asked questions about the impact of remote working on company culture

What are the advantages of remote working?

There are many advantages of remote working, like increased work-life balance, improved mental health, reduced anxiety and stress, increased diversity when you can hire from anywhere, and more control over your schedule.  

How do you maintain company culture while working remotely?

To maintain a strong company culture while working remotely, there are a few things you can do: 

  1. Have a well-designed virtual workspace 
  2. Foster opportunities to connect and build relationships
  3. Create channels for both positive and negative feedback 
  4. Empower everyone to come up with ideas
  5. Create norms for working async and in real-time
  6. Establish strong shared company values 

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Want remote working to feel spontaneous, authentic, and frictionless?

Switchboard makes it easy to work side-by-side with your remote team—and share more than your screen.