Throughout time, humans have relied on in-person interactions to build relationships. Even the National Library of Medicine recognizes that simply making eye contact is a crucial element of human connection. But how do you remain connected when gone are the days of chats by the water cooler and “How was your weekend?” breakroom greetings?
While these changes affect how employees work and interact with one another, they also affect the work culture—the very essence, spirit, and drive—of our professional environments, remote or otherwise. By making intentional adjustments, employers can ensure remote team members are still connecting and building relationships, even digitally.
The truth is: Today’s technology-forward era has changed the look and feel of our work culture, but that doesn’t mean leaders can’t adapt to these changes. In doing so, they can foster strong connections and teamwork among their employees, resulting in a successful business that drives impact in the world.
In this article, find out how to keep your work culture alive and thriving by learning:
- What work culture is
- Why it’s essential to have a great work culture
- Examples of workplace cultures getting it right
What Is Work Culture?
Don’t tell them what you’re going to do—that’s vision. Do what you are going to do—that’s culture.john c. maxwell
The shared beliefs, attitudes, and expectations in a professional environment form a work culture. A work culture can be positive or negative, developing naturally over time and following a company’s core values. If the shared attitudes and beliefs are harmonious, a positive work culture will result. On the other hand, if a company’s values are conflicting or missing, or leadership is poor, negative work culture can form.
Work culture is reflected in the way employees and customers are treated. It’s also reflected in how a company takes external factors—like inflation, emergencies, public health, and other events beyond employee control—into policy and benefit consideration. If a company adapts according to changing societal needs and puts the best interests of its people first, a great work culture will develop.
Why Is Having a Great Work Culture Important?
Create the kind of workplace and company culture that will attract great talent. If you hire brilliant people, they will make work feel more like play.richard branson
Work culture impacts everything from productivity and turnover to customer satisfaction and profitability. How much employee recognition is given, the quality of interactions with one another, and the level of support received from leadership differentiates an excellent work culture from a poor one. In addition, 94% of managers agree that having a great work culture creates productive and resilient teams.
As a leader, you want your employees to feel happy and supported in their roles. Not only does this improve performance, but it saves the company money. A study by the Society of Human Resource Management reports that toxic work environments cost U.S. companies $223 billion in employee turnover within five years. In addition, according to the O.C. Tanner Learning Group, 79% of employees who don’t feel appreciated quit their jobs, leaving business owners in the hole.
Aside from these benefits, there are other key reasons building work culture matters in business. Learn more about these below.
Top 3 Reasons Work Culture Matters
- Attract and Retain Top Talent: To stay competitive, employers must give their current and prospective employees options and opportunities. It’s no longer enough to offer a good salary. Health coverage, work perks, work-from-home options, vacation flexibility, and other relevant benefits will foster a great work culture. This, in turn, will attract and retain top talent.
- Strengthens Consumer Perception: As the late CEO of Zappos Tony Hsieh once said, “Your culture is your brand.” Employees aren’t the only ones looking at a company’s work culture—customers do too. And not only are they looking, but their purchasing decisions are influenced by it. If your company has poor work culture and unhappy employees, customers will likely do business elsewhere.
- Boosts Quality of Work: Employees that feel valued and cared for feel better about their jobs. This results in more accountability, innovation, teamwork, and higher quality of work. Employee recognition programs, annual retreats, happy hours, and bonuses are great ways to boost employee morale.
Can Employee Bonds Form Digitally?
What a lot of companies haven’t recognized is that building trust online is possible, but it actually requires more work. What used to happen just relatively organically now has to happen prescriptively.simon sinek
Back in prehistoric times, strong human connections and relationships were cultivated by protecting one another, hunting and gathering together, and simply living in each other’s presence. Is it possible to emulate those same human bonds that form great work culture through a computer screen?
The answer is yes . . . if leaders and employers make intentional and strategic efforts to do so. These efforts can look like redesigning operations, reconfiguring teams, or using new communication software. Maybe it also means establishing new daily or weekly Zoom calls to connect and build camaraderie or changing policies around office hours so that employees can work in harmony with others from different time zones. The key to building a great remote work culture is putting your employees at the center of the design.
Tips for Cultivating Digital Bonds
- Use internal community software and forums as hubs for remote employee camaraderie
- Hire talent with strong communication skills and personability
- Encourage team members and managers to check in daily with each other
- Use cloud technology so employees can collaborate on shared projects in real-time
- Host occasional in-person meetings to strengthen virtual bonds
Remote work cultures look and feel different, but exercising strong leadership qualities and clear communication can help bridge the gap. Continue reading to find out what this looks like in action with four examples of businesses implementing these changes.
4 Examples of Companies With Great Remote Work Cultures
Company Rating: 4.1 out of 5-star rating on Indeed for work-life balance and work culture
- Virtual internships
- Paid volunteer time
- Employee resource groups
- Backup childcare
- Daily morning huddles
- “Radical transparency” to build a remote work culture of openness and inclusivity
Intuit, the creator of global finance products like TurboTax and Credit Karma, is one company adjusting well to the digital times. Many of its positive changes come from the current CEO, Sasan Goodarzi, who assumed his position in 2019. He advocates that leaders should provide a safe place for employees, remote or in-office. Furthermore, he believes it’s his duty to make team members feel heard, equipping them to transform the workplace into a better environment for all.
“We always talk about diversity as a fact, but inclusion is a choice,” Goodarzi says. “If anyone ever has the courage to come into my office and say, ‘I want to drive change,’ my job is to make sure they have everything at their fingertips because you can’t just say you want to create an inclusive environment and make it so.”
2. Dell Technologies
Company Rating: 3.9 out of 5-star rating on Indeed for work-life balance and work culture
- The Connected Workplace
- Employee-built Culture Code
- A 2030 Progress Made Real Plan for greater inclusion, sustainability, and ethical transformation
- Diversity strategies through the MARC initiative
- Mentorship programs for female leaders
- “Tell Dell” annual employee survey
Michael Dell started Dell Technologies at 19-years-old with only $1,000. Today, it’s one of the most recognizable technology brands on the market. But setting the company apart from its competitors is its innovative take on cultural inclusion and forward-thinking initiatives. In particular, Dell’s work-from-home policy, called the Connected Workplace, offers remote work in many departments globally, flexible work schedules, and career development programs. Their Connected Workplace program is dedicated to investing and growing further so remote employees can do their best work.
Michael Dell’s core values and belief in servant leadership are also ingrained in each effort the company makes to foster a better work environment for its employees. As Dell VP and Managing Director Eric Goh once described: “His humility truly exemplifies the principles of leadership, which is deeply ingrained in the Dell Technologies Culture Code.”
Company Rating: 4.1 out of 5-star rating on Indeed for work-life balance and work culture
- Remote jobs with flexible hours
- Adoptive parent leave
- Holistic cancer treatment resources
- Employee well-being as a strategic priority
- Onsite health services
- Health ambassador network
- Search Inside Yourself mindfulness workshops
- Mental health and emotional well-being programs with free 24/7 helpline
- Employee assistance programs
A leader in enterprise application software with locations in 180 countries, SAP’s mission is to “help the world run better and improve people’s lives.” And the company is doing just that. SAP’s employee-focused health policies and benefits demonstrate their commitment to helping all employees—remote and in-office—thrive. “The physical and mental wellness of our team is paramount,” said former SAP CEO Bill McDermott. “If our people don’t take care of their health, ultimately everything else suffers, and I want everyone at SAP to have a dream job. I want people to be happy and to be inspired to have a thrilling career. The people who power this company are the most important part of it.”
SAP was awarded the 2019 Best Places to Work award by Glassdoor and has been ranked as the number one employer in Germany. In total, SAP has won over 175 employee-based awards globally. Their biggest difference, however, is that they view employee care and well-being as a deeply connected element to their business success. For this reason, they intentionally plan, design, and create programs that put their employees first, so that their profits and productivity follow suit organically.
Company Rating: 4.1 stars out of 5-star rating on Indeed for work-life balance and 4.2 stars for culture
- Work from home policy
- Tuition reimbursement
- Discounts on food subscription services
- Discounts on online wellness and fitness programs
- Discounts on pet insurance
- Discounts on at-home activities for kids
- Access to ergonomic equipment
As a top-rated CRM and database program, Salesforce is another company setting the example for excellent work culture. By offering perks and benefits to team members that are both relevant and timely, Salesforce adds tremendous value to the lives of its remote employees.
To take it a step further, CEO Marc Benioff has shared his thoughts on looking to unique business models for inspiration in the new digital era. For Salesforce, this looked like creating Trailblazer Ranch, an outdoor campus where employees from all over the world can come for culture-building, training, and orientations.
“They’ll have the opportunity to participate in tactile experiences like guided nature walks, restorative yoga, garden tours, group cooking classes, art journaling, and meditation. Learning, planning, and team-building are important to the Trailblazer Ranch experience, but we can accomplish this in a whole new way—surrounded by nature, with well-being, giving back, and fun at the center,” Benioff describes in a blog post on Salesforce’s website.
Benioff also described his views on work culture on Twitter, stating: “A great place to work means taking care of all your stakeholders—especially your employees! At Salesforce we want our culture to continue to lead the world as a great place to work in every country we operate in & we will always do whatever we can to support all our Ohana.”
Servant Leadership Makes Having a Great Remote Work Culture Easy
True leadership lies in guiding others to success—in ensuring that everyone is performing at their best, doing the work they are pledged to do and doing it well.bill owens
What each of the companies above has in common, (and why their work culture ratings are so high), is their servant leadership. When CEOs, board members, and other C-suite executives prioritize the health and well-being of their employees, that’s demonstrating a willingness to lead others by serving them.
Giving your employees opportunities and options, helping them to develop, and considering their needs outside of work, are characteristics of servant leadership. This leadership style challenges the old notion of simply following the person who is the loudest or wealthiest. It’s instead about providing employees with leadership that is service-driven, team-oriented, and people-focused. For these leaders, it’s not about profits or quotas. It’s about producing good work and providing an environment (digital or in-office) that employees are excited about being a part of.
A Fractl survey revealed that almost 50% of 2,000 respondents gave work-from-home options “heavy consideration,” even if it meant taking a pay cut. This demonstrates that the workplace landscape has indeed changed. And so, too, must our understanding of work culture. Leading servantly is the key to building a great work culture. No matter where your employees are working from, considering them and their needs and making adjustments is vital for staying competitive.
Continue reading to learn more about building a team culture.