Carrying Company Culture with Remote Work

Company culture is a top focus at New Story. As a distributed team, we’ve had to get creative with ways to enrich company culture while team members aren’t in the same office.

I’ve pulled together a list of the most effective, actionable steps we’ve taken.

  • Monday Team Call
  • Friday ‘Values Shoutouts’ Call
  • Hang-10s
  • Values channel in Slack
  • Working in Public Policy
  • More, focused Slack Channels
  • Custom reaction emoji’s
  • Slack Notifications
  • Weekly Focus Channel

Monday Team Call

A weekly, 45 minute video call via Zoom.

The entire team joins a Zoom call and gets on the same page. The agenda is always evolving to accommodate shifting needs and priorities, but alignment and excitement is the goal.getting on the same page. One department shares an update each week. Celebration moments from last week are shared. Important highlights are shared for the week ahead.

Friday ‘Values Shoutout Call’

A weekly, 30 minute call Friday afternoons.

The entire team joins on Zoom. Each person takes 20-30 seconds to publicly shoutout another team members they saw living-out a company value that week. This is an energy-fueled sendoff for the weekend and reinforces company values.

Disclaimer: If company values aren’t already defined and discussed, this will land flat. Start there.

Values Channel in Slack

A Slack channel named #values

The Values Channel is similar to Friday’s call but available throughout the week. Team members write-up brief shoutout and encouragement, framed by company values.

Important Note: Founders and leadership team member will have to lead by example to start but great once the ball is rolling. It’s worth the effort. Repeating the disclaimer here, if company values aren’t already defined and discussed, this will land flat. Start there.

Team of Founders is one of our most celebrated values.

Hang 10s

10 minute video calls throughout the week, randomly assigned.

The Hang-10 is designed to be quick, pointed interactions with team members you might not typically interact with. We keep it casual and push to limit the time to 10 minutes. This forces people to jump right into catching up and removes the social pressure of ‘how to conclude politely’.

More, Focused Channels

Slack (or whatever messaging tool your company uses) channels are cheap.

It’s helpful to push for clear, not clever names for channels. It should be obvious why that channel exists and it’s purpose protected.

Recently, we underwent an audit for a department. We standardized the name of each channel, actually wrote a description (‘purpose’), and communicated an owner for each.

‘Work in Public’ Policy

More public Slack channels.

Over the years we have pushed the team to converse in public channels, reserving DMs for personal use. This provides a contextualized track record of the conversation. It also exists in a space that’s easier to invite others into the conversation and help them catchup.

Working in Public also allows managers to oversee progress without micro-managing.

Custom Reaction Emoji’s

There are gestures and inside jokes in every culture. We create custom emojis in slack so people can use to react to posts.

For example: In the tech community, there is a popular emoji called ‘Party Parrot‘. A few team members got together and created a version of the party parrot for each tech team member. These pop up regularly.

Slack Notifications

Zapier is a great tool for connecting tools. We’ve built a lot of integrations with Slack.

Pushing company activity into Slack shows the typically unseen moment across the organization. I prefer to have separate channels (and often mute them) to not clutter common feeds, but it equates to ‘office buzz’. A digital format is healthy, especially when people are hard at work. It also invites opportunities to shoutout team members.

For example:
When the deal is marked closed/won in HubSpot, it alerts our sales channel.
When code gets merged to master, it alerts our tech team.
When a contracts get signed, it alerts our operations team.

Highlighting wins is essential for a healthy company culture. Why not simplify the prompt to celebrate.

Weekly Focus Channel

Every Monday, the team drops in their #1 focus for the week. People can react celebrate or ask questions. It’s simple and quick, but is a forcing function to be intentional, keeps others informed, and invites others to cheer you on your offer support.