More and more companies are leaning towards a remote workforce and with very good reason. It offers flexible hours to employees, reduces the commute time entirely and provides a more convenient and comfortable work environment. Despite the obvious advantages, how does a business develop its company culture, so even the remote employees feel connected to the organization? It is definitely harder to achieve but certainly not impossible.

First, it is important to realize that company culture is not determined by a few corporate memos nor is it created purely by a Friday afternoon get together. It is slightly more complicated and intentional than that. Yet the challenge remains of how you can ensure your company culture extends to all of your employees, even those who work from home.

Here are some tips which you can put into place to build, develop and strengthen your company culture.

Communicate culture

Don’t just assume that every one of your remote workers understands your mission, your values or even your culture automatically. It’s imperative that you document your aims and goals in an easy-to-follow fashion, so it is clearly understood. Make sure that your documentation aligns with the rest of your processes and that all of your employees are clear about your expectations from day one to avoid any misunderstanding.

Be open with your continuous assessments and to ongoing changes as your company grows. Good articulation of your cultural aims will educate your remote workers and set any accountability.

Encourage communication

Without communication in your office environment, remote or otherwise, all you have is a bunch of people working independently, together. Company culture hinges on communication – at all levels. Support constant communication, so everyone feels comfortable to speak without fear or criticism. Get those channels of communication operating to reduce the silence that can often accompany a remote career. Lead by example if necessary and reach out to encourage, chat or congratulate. The small things can really make a huge difference.

Update software

Utilizing out of date software and systems will only add to the frustration of your remote workforce and cause them to feel more disconnected than ever. Therefore, make sure your systems are aiding your company culture, not disrupting or hindering it. Regularly source tools that will contribute to making everyone’s job easier. They don’t have to be overly complicated to be effective and meet your corporate needs. Even Google Hangouts or Slack can be useful for developing connections, creating happiness and building on company culture.

Streamline systems

Your internal communication systems lie at the heart of your ability to communicate with your team well. More systems are not necessarily better and can complicate how things get done. Streamline the way you communicate with your remote workers by making your channels of communication immediate and consistent. By centralizing your approach, you will ensure that everyone is on the same page and are working as a cohesive group. Having silo systems can limit the connections and leave people to feel isolated from other workers.

Share schedules

While your remote workers may be operating on their individual timetables, consider working on a shared schedule to make interaction easier. If that is not possible, then aim for some form of overlap between workers to establish some common routine. It may be difficult due to a variation of time zones, but it is necessary to the overall culture that there is some kind of synchronicity involved in the daily processes. Setting up a special time for social interactions on a regular basis can extend those cultural boundaries.

Plan meetups

Meetups in person can develop the structure of the company and bolster the culture. Set up semi-formal gatherings to foster the culture and build the bonds. It doesn’t have to be all work, and no play, either. Plan a fun activity that will show another side of your employees and help you learn more about what makes them tick. If meetups are seemingly impossible to arrange, then you will have to settle for virtual meetings. With web conferencing sites such as Skype or GoToMeeting, virtual meetups are easy to arrange – just know that everyone will have to supply their own donuts.

Support employees

Don’t forget that your employers have extracurricular activities too. Why not reach out and sponsor an event or an interest of your team members in their local area? It enables your company to widen their influence and allows your remote workers to feel supported in their specific community. Going above and beyond what is generally expected of an employer will make up for some of the cultural ground that you cannot cover with your in-office employees. It will also establish the trust and respect that your workers feel towards your company.