How to Build a Strong Remote-First Culture for Your Creative Team

The Landscape of Remote Work in 2023

We are experiencing a huge transformation in our relationship with and how we view work. With the pandemic pushing the boundaries of what we thought was remotely possible, an increasing number of job functions are now performed outside of an office. And 15% of the highest paying jobs are in fully remote settings. Are you, like many, browsing for advice on how to build a great remote environment? Perhaps you want to attract and retain top talent? The majority of highly-skilled professionals place the ability to work remotely as one of their top factors when considering a job offer. However, a remote work option is nothing without a solid remote culture. Read this week’s article to find out how to create yours.

Strategies to Create a Great Remote-First Culture for Your Organization

As with all things, remote work comes with a slew of enviable rewards and some tricky challenges. We hope our guide below will help you decide whether remote work is for you and, if so, what your desired remote-first company culture should look like.

Trends move FAST and staying current can mean you need to execute with little to no notice. So how do you stay on top of already tight deadlines while also having the resources for ad-hoc projects?

1. Go remote-first or go home

If you want your company culture to succeed you will have to divorce with the office-first model and all it entails. Simply put, you need different playbooks for remote-first professional settings than you do for office-first ones. A successful remote-first work culture goes beyond location independence. It includes processes, mindsets, and rules that meet the unique needs of the business.

Such a transition will take time to plan and implement. We recommend you read this guide to build your remote work policy. And make sure you include all members of your organization in the discussion. Trust us, committing to a remote-first setting is a lot of work, but it will save you tons of resources down the line.

2. Over-communicate as if your life depends on it

We may have moved on to working remotely, but our communication styles have not – and neither have our brains. Most people operate on the same set of assumptions in a remote setting that they do in face-to-face meetings. There is room for improvement here.

It may help to think of your colleagues on their laptops blissfully unaware of everything you have not discussed with them. No colleagues have filled them over in on what is going on over coffee. Lunch break chit chat is saved for family and friends, not work talk. Assume your colleagues work with you and only you – it is the safest bet and starting point for your communication.

3. Promote (the importance of) transparency

Akin to the above, transparency is one of those things that we can never have or give enough of. Your company’s success in a remote setting largely depends on whether stakeholders keep each other in the loop. Do you have a doctor’s appointment? Is your tech acting up? Whatever the case may be, make sure to communicate changes and have others do the same. Besides, trust is a two-way street.

4. Promote taking notes and recording meetings

You would be surprised at how many things end up slipping through the cracks in a remote setting. It is nobody’s fault – everyone is trying their best to do what they promise, except when they forget. Then, promises go unfulfilled, ideas get forgotten, and project ideas are brainstormed, but never implemented. Designate a person to take meeting notes or record your important meetings so you never miss important details.

5. Make a habit of checking in with your colleagues regularly

The lack of a shared physical space to socialize combined with the demanding nature of work may lead to frustrations to say the least. When working remotely, you miss the bonding moments and experiences you normally have with coworkers. So, you should go out of your way to mitigate that by staying connected with the people you collaborate with most often. You may wish to allocate time during 1:1s to discuss non-work matters. Alternatively, set up a few non-work 1:1s to foster your relationships with your closest colleagues.

6. Invest in the right hardware and software

It is obvious that the higher your investment in tech is the fewer problems you will run into. This deserves to be emphasized time again in a remote setting, as laptop repairs and software outages are trickier and more time consuming to address when everyone works in different parts of the world across multiple time zones.

For all its benefits, a remote work environment is prone to communication gaps. You need tools that can help bridge those gaps, often created by a lack of (frequent) in-person communication and different time zones that lead to asynchronous work.

7. Hire independent, self-driven people with an undying passion for what they do

The hard truth of the matter is you can only hire people who know what they are doing. A remote setting calls for drive, proactive thinking, and the ability to add structure to chaos. All these are things that come with experience and a love for one’s craft. You can teach some hard skills and cultivate some soft ones as you go, but not everything. Flexibility, a proactive attitude, and the decisiveness to reach out to people you hardly ever see or talk to are tools you need in your kit from day one.

8. Encourage team members to pursue and talk about their hobbies

We all feel passionate about the things we love doing most – it’s why we do them! A remote setting often deprives us of many chances to discuss all that we love and do outside of work. In creating a strong remote-first culture, you must create communication channels for people’s various interests. Think sports, nature, books, video games, music, and the list goes on!

9. Offer flexible working hours and be output-driven

Spread over multiple time zones, countries, and even continents, most remote-first companies need a culture that embraces a work style that goes hand-in-hand with the rest of employees’ lives. Almost 50% of people that work on a flexible schedule are more productive now than before. This is why a flexible work schedule that allows for breaks in between is crucial to avoiding employee burnout and high turnover. However, you must be mindful of back-to-back meetings. Our brains expend a lot of effort in and get exhausted by them, research suggests.

10. Offer a professional development plan and stick to it

A (remote) company that lacks professional direction is off-putting since employees love having a future to look forward to. Start by having discussions around where they want to grow in the future. Then, create a plan towards that and allocate relevant resources. Next, advise employees to allocate time every week to work on the skills that will lead them to further growth and success. And most importantly, give them incentives to commit to the plan. Read this guide for more info.

11. Organize annual events worth attending

Remote workers are independent souls that love to get on with their routines and deliver great work. If you want them to go out of their way to come together and bond in person, you must make it worth their while. Okay, a company-wide holiday may be unrealistic on multiple levels, but you need to think more along these lines and less along the lines of games over Zoom.

12. Care for and be kind to one another

And to your KPIs, OKRs, or whatever name you choose for your company goals. The foundation that solidifies your success in the above is care. Teams where colleagues care for one another collaborate well and get along even better. The relationships they form with each other are stronger and the resulting outpour of support leads to better business outcomes, too.

Care often goes together with its twin, kindness. Research has found that when we are kind to others, they tend to be ever kinder back. Its long-lasting effects include a decrease in turnover, an increase in happiness levels, and overall improved job satisfaction.

The Differences Between Working from Home vs. Working Remotely

This distinction merits its own discussion, but only a few (soon-to-be) remote professionals are having it. Ask yourself – “do I want my team or myself to work from home and have more time for family and friends?” or “do I wish for myself and my team to (travel and) work from anywhere I want in the world?“.

Working from Home

It is often endorsed by many employers, and its coordination is simple and straightforward. You live and work in the country where you are a tax resident so your payroll, pension schemes, and benefits are optimized and come with proper systems and legal frameworks in place. And you get to work worry-free from the comfort of your own home or a cafe, a park, or a museum – you name it!

If you live in a country other than your own and wish to visit family and friends back home, most companies will offer several weeks you can take per calendar year to do so. How long you can be away depends entirely on company policy so it can be very flexible or very restricting. Take your pick!

Working Remotely

It means you get to travel wherever you want whenever you feel like it. As long as you have your laptop and access to good Wi-Fi and a charging station, the sky’s the limit! Professionals sing the praises of remote work daily on LinkedIn and for good reason – who doesn’t want every day to feel like a holiday?

For all its effects on our mental well-being and the sense of agency such a lifestyle offers us, the downsides are obvious and may be severe. In short, the way we approach remote work is far ahead of legislation in most parts of the world. This means remote workers may run into major legal issues with taxation, residence status, and practically have no pension options available.

Final Comments on Remote Work

Building the right team culture to foster collaboration and open communication is challenging enough as it is. Doing so in a remote setting, where your entire team is based in different parts around the world? Ooh boy, this is certainly no simple task! ‘Daunting’ is what we would call it. The good news is there is no need to panic. We at Lytho operate on a remote-first model – and so can you! For this article, we drew inspiration, in part, from our own experiences as a remote-first company. We hope you found this information useful in setting up the right remote-first culture for your organization!

Try Lytho’s creative operations software to identify and fix process bottlenecks and improve your remote team’s communication today! We at Lytho help you streamline your entire workflow and harmonize all brand collateral under a single, uniform platform. Feel free to reach out to us by scheduling a demo and learning how our creative solutions can boost the effectiveness of your creative projects. We look forward to speaking with you!