Man working remotely in a coffee shop.

We’ve given our two cents on a lot of subjects, like the tech industry’s high turnover rate, the qualities of a great product owner, and improvements you can make to your IT department. We even bragged about our 2020 Christmas party, which was, in a word, legendary. But as far as company culture goes, there’s something we can’t just let slip: how that works remotely. Not only did we explain the subject in general terms, but we barely mentioned remote company culture! In 2021, that just won’t cut it (it’s still a great article, though).

The COVID-19 pandemic has required many businesses and employees to operate remotely throughout 2020 and into 2021 — perhaps you’re one of them. However, as restrictions continue to loosen in 2021, many companies are still choosing to work remotely, at least partially. It does make sense, after all — working remotely minimizes building and transportation costs, not to mention that nearly everyone would rather stay home and work. So, we’re here to share some of the other benefits of staying at least partially remote, and how you can take your remote company culture to the max.

The first step: replicate your company culture through leadership

In the past, we discussed the importance of investing in your company leaders to build your company culture. When you combine meaningful dialogue with effective, strong company leaders, you get real, tangible change in your company culture. From there, you can allow experimentation, exploration, and yes, failure from your employees.

“But let me ask you this, Master Wayne: why do we fall?” Well, Alfred, it’s so we can learn to pick ourselves back up. By allowing your team to make mistakes and learn from them with little pressure, you offer them freedom and are already on your way to developing a strong company culture. The beauty about investing in your leaders is that you can do it regardless of if you work remotely or in-person.

The next step: offering the choice

Business leader giving a briefing in a meeting.

Between custom software projects, we had the chance to do some research on productivity in the workplace. What we found is truly noteworthy: when teams are given the choice to work remotely on some days out of the week, their level of engagement can increase both at home and in the office.  

Specifically, the best results for your remote company culture occur when your team meets in-person only a few times a week. This allows opportunities for the team to gel together, move toward the same goals, and have stronger communication overall. At home, the heavy lifting gets done. Employees get to experience the at-home environment — generally more beneficial than in the office — and get their work done on their own time while remaining available virtually for any urgent matters.

But can too much freedom be a bad thing? Yes, in fact. Too much autonomy and too little communication can lead to everyone going different directions and reinventing the wheel. The result? A massive drop in productivity. Instead of full autonomy, we recommend introducing bounded autonomy, where you let your staff experience and explore without your micromanaging, but with healthy constraints and boundaries. These constraints can include requiring a certain programming language or a certain time frame for the project to be done.

Not only can constraints like this make your life easier and more organized as a supervisor and be a great way to drive innovation in your staff, but they offer a way to standardize your company projects. This way, you can allocate your team members to different projects at different times, should a project need more personnel. Your team will better understand what to do, how to integrate, and how to work with that project.

Steele offers its teams the choice to come in as they want to. Most are still remote while vaccines continue to be distributed, but some have chosen the hybrid format. The only time they typically come into the office is when they kick off a new project, just for the sake of coming together as a team for a time. We do love to see that at Steele; we value our team immensely and do what we can to increase that level of comradery. And if there’s one thing we love more than comradery over custom software, it’s providing you the information to make the best decision for your company moving forward in 2021.