How to Build a Great Culture in a Remote Environment

Eric Xiao
September 15, 2020

Culture is the backbone of any organization

You can make every strategic decision right, but if the culture is not right, nothing can get done.

A lot of companies display their values in their lobby, post on their website, and even publish a book. But the true culture lives with the people. What is your vision, what is your value, what you do every day, and who you hire, promote and let go? Those things define your culture, and culture decides the fate of your company.

Building a great culture is already hard when people work in the same office. Now every company is accelerating to move to a remote environment. The centralized headquarters will soon become a history. It is becoming a new norm to have part of the team working in a co-working space or at home, whether it is in another city or another country.

So how do you create a positive working environment and build a great culture in this remote working environment? Our company, Laxis, was founded in early 2020. From the very beginning, we are a remote team. Now we have grown into a team working in 5 different time zones. Here is how we build our culture.

Set clear vision

Vision is super important to any company. Your team needs to know where you are heading.

  • Make sure your vision is clear and communicate to every employee at all levels. Make sure everyone knows how his role contributes to this vision.
  • Break the long-term vision into actionable milestones. Track and review the progress and communicate to your team.

At Laxis, our vision is to build an AI meeting assistant for everyone at anytime, anywhere. In order to get there, we have set detailed milestones and everyone’s role in achieving each milestone.

Define shared value

Vision tells where you are going to. Value defines who you are and how to get there. Similar to vision, you also need do two things in order to build shared value:

  • Set a shared value and communicate your value clearly. Have an open discussion with your team about what they value most, and refine the values together. Once it is decided, let everyone know about it. Talk about the value in your weekly or monthly company meeting, as well as your candidate interview.
  • Live your value every day. Don’t just talk about it. You should live and breathe your value.

At Laxis, we have set 7 key values and we practice it every day.

  • Customer Centricity: We constantly listen to what customers want and address their needs. We deliver high-quality customer service to help them succeed in what they are doing.
  • High Achiever with Low Ego: We don’t settle with mediocrity. We set the highest standards, aim high and achieve more and we value humble, down to earth and learning attitude.
  • Bias for Action and Make Impact: We try different angles, explore possibilities and address problems along the way. We move fast, keep pushing forward and make an impact.
  • Get things done no matter what it takes: We are problem solvers and goal getters. We get things done with hard work, determination and innovation.
  • Be Visionary and Innovative: We are exploring an emerging space. Only being visionary and making innovations can lead us to ultimate success.
  • Trust, Care and Collaborate: We don’t believe in becoming successful alone. We take every teammate as an asset. We trust, care, collaborate and work as a true team.
  • Enjoy the process and have fun: Life is too short to not have fun. Work can also be rewarding and fun at the same time. We want to find joy and happiness along the way.

Build virtual and local community

People work together more effectively when they can form a bond with each other. Even though it is hard to gather everyone into the same office, it is still possible to build a community and make people feel they belong to a family.

  • Hold virtual events: even though people cannot meet in person in a remote environment, we can still hold online events, like celebrating achieving milestones, people’s birthday, special events and etc. At Laxis, we have weekly department meetings and monthly company meetings, to introduce new teammates, share news, review processes and set new goals. Sometimes we also do presentations about special projects and have an open discussion.
  • Encourage local meetup: even though we cannot meet in person all together, we can still meet in smaller groups based on location. Right now, Laxis have teams in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, New York, Tokyo, and Shanghai. We encourage people to meet for lunch or coffee with their teammates in the same city.

Communicate effectively with the help with modern technology

We have talked about vision, value and community. To get those things right, communication is the foundation. Making sure everyone is on the same page is very important.

  • Daily sync up: in agile methodology, daily sync up is essential to keep the team on the same page, solve any roadblocks, and etc. In the current remote working environment, daily sync up is also very effective to keep your team on the same page.
  • Make sure your virtual door is always open, especially if you are a leader: make sure everyone can reach out to you anytime. Check in your teammates in the morning and let them know you are available if they need you. Reach out to them if they are stuck.
  • Choose the right software to support you: to support your remote work environment, you need the right tool to help you. At Laxis, we use zoom, slack and most importantly our own AI meeting assistant to help us communicate effectively and make sure everyone is on the same page.

Building a great culture in a remote environment is definitely doable. By setting clear vision, defining shared value, building virtual communities, and communicating effectively, you can build a strong culture and achieve great success.