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After a surge of remote work, employers seem to be less flexible these days. Fewer roles are classified as remote and companies are increasingly mandating a return-to-office. Our 2023 State of Tech Salaries report found 33% of surveyed employers wanted employees to come back to the office. Culture immersion was one of the top reasons for this preference.
With remote work, an intangible yet critical element of an organization that may unintentionally get lost in the shuffle is company culture. Although employers push for RTO to heighten collaboration and connectivity to culture, there are ways to cultivate a strong company culture virtually.
Doing so enables teams to adapt and feel supported despite limited to no in-person interaction. For both remote work and hiring, allowing people to have an authentic experience of a company’s culture is critical to both employee and candidate engagement.
During an episode of the Talent Talent to Me podcast, Jolie Loeble, VP of People Ops at Daily Harvest, joined us to discuss successfully cultivating company culture and recreating an in-person candidate experience while being remote.1. Translate the feel of your workspace to a remote setting
There are various considerations companies take into account when transitioning from working in-person to remote. For companies who already adapted to having a more distributed team with remote employees in addition to maintaining their in-person HQ, translating the work dynamics for the whole organization may not feel as daunting.
With that being said, it will still require People managers to be intentional about how teams collaborate, are supported, and, most importantly, feel connected while being distributed.
Loeble comments on how when you walk into an office space — whether you are a customer, candidate, or employee — you can and should be able to feel a company’s culture. An office space is a living, breathing organism that is about more than just a space for collaboration–it is a space that embodies the company’s brand and that usually holds the people who drive the vibrant culture. To work and hire remotely, Loeble mentions how Daily Harvest commits to recreating that feel of the culture.
She explains, “A lot of times when you walk into a building, the elevator door opens and you’re immersed into what this organization is doing. People are humming along and you say to yourself, ‘I can picture myself here. This feels right.’ We’re really trying to recreate that feeling as best we can in the virtual setting.
We also have conversations even after the formal interview cycles. Before we’ll extend an offer, we say, ‘Let’s grab lunch or grab coffee,’ so we know we’re going to go down a path and potentially extend an offer. It’s always been my practice to make sure there’s downtime to socialize… to make sure everybody’s gelling from a personality standpoint – that engagement and sentiment you would normally get in person is happening.”
Loeble says Daily Harvest aims to create a candidate experience that matches the employee experience, both of which should mirror the customer experience. According to Jolie, this should be standard practice for all People teams to be mindful of.
“A lot of the things we would put out to the public to engage our customers are the same things we do internally for our team members. Those values and tones come across in this outreach more than they would have previously.”3. Use tradition as a constant amid change
Being culture-conscious throughout growth periods will also help companies stay true to their roots as they scale. Loeble shares that keeping traditions from the early stages of Daily Harvest alive ensures the team remembers its humble beginnings. In a way, doing so pays tribute to the grit and hard work it took to get to where they are today.
Continuing traditions unique to a company from its inception is how culture is carried through and stands the test of time and organizational change. Often as an organization gets bigger, people begin to feel it.
Loeble says, “The feel of the organization changes. It’s just changed pretty much across the board in your experience with the company. But the more you can communicate, the more you can be out in front of it. I think that helps keep people’s minds at ease.” Communication is key and will help connect team members back to the culture and the company.4. Build community
It is important for people who interact with the company to get a feel for the rich and vibrant culture, especially in this remote world. With respect to remote hiring, Daily Harvest offers candidates they’re interviewing the opportunity to interact with its products in their homes so they can engage with the brand directly.
What candidates may not be able to physically interact with right now, virtual tours of the workspace and photos or videos of experiences the team has with each other can showcase a welcoming team waiting to celebrate with prospective employees.
Finally, staying connected to their mission, brand, and each other (beyond just work-related reasons) is how Daily Harvest has successfully grown their business while being remote. They operate as a team that exudes a work culture you want to be a part of. In turn, it translates into business success.
Echoing Jolie’s sentiment of building community, another past guest on Talk Talent to Me, Vitech Systems CHRO Andy Doyle discusses the foundation of building company culture. He encourages teams to “build a social contract between the employees and the organization for why the company exists.
That social contract becomes the foundation of a strong company culture. This line from Peter Drucker gets overused all the time: ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ But it’s so true. I’ve seen the power of what a great company culture can do in my career. When you don’t have that, it doesn’t matter what your strategy is.”
Andy believes people will care about their company if they feel the company cares about them. Organizations show this through not just their words, but their actions. Are leaders listening to what employees have to say?
As an example of taking action the foster culture remotely, Andy refers to the ‘Coffee with the CEO’ initiative he started with the CEO of Vitech. He says, “The two of us meet in small groups of nine to ten people. They’re just conversations.
I used to get such great information in my previous roles just walking the halls and saying hello to people. You usually see the same people in your meetings all day, but if you want to get other perspectives on what’s going on in the organization, you need to get out and talk to the people.
Working remotely I don’t have those chance encounters anymore. ‘Coffee with the CEO’ is giving Richard and I an opportunity to talk to people who are not in our regular meetings and hear all sorts of different perspectives. It really expedited my learning about my new company.”
Tune into more Talk Talent to Me episodes to learn about the strategies, techniques, and trends shaping the recruitment industry — straight from top experts themselves.
Originally written by Abbi Nguyen in August 2020. Updated by Hired Content team and Remote September 2023.
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