Remote Company Culture Building In A Crisis

As coronavirus reality sets in throughout corporations around the world, the people who are still holding down the proverbial talent fort are watching their jobs evolve from 100% recruiting. Today? 25% recruiting, 75% employee go-to. Problems and questions around hiring and what’s next for the company seem to pile up at their desks. Suddenly, we’re in charge of remote company culture.

HR and recruiting are the proverbial key to what’s happening with the company. When things are good, we’re writing policies and onboarding new hires. When things are bad, we’re writing layoff letters and part of a disappearing act we organized. We are the voice of company culture in chaos. 

The culture go-to is a new role. Lucky for you, the definition of company culture is changing, too. 

The Evolution of Culture: Creating Culture Remotely

I saw graffiti that said, “we can’t return to normal, because the normal that we had was precisely the problem.” I feel that way about company culture and what we’ve done to build it up to this point. 

We called it culture when often it was dictated by a leadership panel. Without a well-funded talent team of people dedicated to culture, most companies pretend like they have nothing to do with it. Of course, that’s unless it’s a reason for opting-out in the hiring process.

That’s ain’t it y’all. 

Culture is what’s happening when you don’t have the luxury of a drive-by office visit with every employee. Culture is what your people say about you now when things aren’t perfect. Culture is what happens when chaos ensues. Developing your team’s connection is an all-new challenge that will leave an impact on our people long after the lights are on at the office.

Drive-By Effect: Company Culture Building Online

The drive-by effect is one of my favorite things about being in an office.* It’s a total feel-good moment, and it tells you a lot about a company’s culture. Office lovers tell me they’re missing those most of all right now. 

*Only if I have to pick one. I always prefer home. Yes, even now. 

So how do you create that feeling now when everyone goes online? In most companies, remote employees have missed out on that part of the culture up to this point. They’re pariahs that you meet once a year and forget to dial into meetings. We’ve sucked at getting remote employees to feel like family. 

Four Ways To Build Your Remote Company Culture Now

I’ve seen a few ideas you 100% should steal to build your remote company culture. 

  1. Use video for team communications. I know a lot of you get freaked out by the video. Hear me out. It doesn’t have to be perfect for the team. You don’t have to do the entire discussion via video. I created this little “what makes a good check-in video” if you’re looking for some tips to be more human. 
  1. Survey the team regularly. Pulse surveys are your friends right now. Check out what SurveyMonkey is doing in this webinar with its CEO, CMO, and CHRO. They’re providing templates, too. But here’s what makes their approach to pulse surveys best-in-class. 
  2. Do something. SurveyMonkey is doing something. For example, when employees were struggling with remote workspaces, they sent $250 stipends to set up offices. But you don’t need money to deliver on this one. When people tell you they have a problem, find an answer. A free recommendation from a peer is still an answer and may have a more prolonged impact. 
  3. Tell stories about your company, not just critical communications. When your company does something right, talk about it. When someone on your team does something awesome, boast about it. It’s time to celebrate the wins – big and little – and that means a lot more one-off emails, pings, and texts to say “you’re a badass.”

There’s a revolutionary change happening in everyone’s perception of remote work right now. We need to pivot, as culture builders and recruiters to adapt to this new reality and build teams that last. After all, as we stare down hiring freezes and unknowns, our best recruiting strategy is retention. Culture is our tool to keep them here. 

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Katrina Kibben View All →

Katrina Kibben is the Founder and Principal Consultant of Three Ears Media. For most of Katrina’s career, she has been a marketer living in a recruiter’s world – listening to both sides of the talent equation to understand the real issues and find solutions for engaging and hiring better people. Today, she uses her technical marketing know-how and way with words to help both established and emerging brands develop and deliver content that fuels smart recruitment marketing that makes the right people apply.

Katrina has written for,, RecruitingDaily and many other digital publications. She is a recognized leader in recruiting and employer branding who speaks regularly at conferences around the world.

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