How to Build Successful Remote Cultures
In episode 85 of Building Better Cultures podcast, Scott spoke to Camila Boyer, Head of Internal Communications and Culture at Hopin, about how you build a strong, aligned and engaged culture when you don't have any offices. Here are her top 7 tips and lessons from what they've built.
1. Create meaningful values with your people
Hopin’s organisational values were created in partnership with a group of their people who joined the company in its early days. Hopin wanted to ensure that its values were representative of the people (‘Hopineers’) working there at the time and that process meant that everyone felt more connected to them because they’d had a hand in creating them. Since day one they’ve underpinned everything the company does.
2. View remote working as an opportunity, not a chore
The events of the last couple of years have, as many companies would have seen it, forced them to move to remote working or hybrid working. Camila highlighted the importance of mindset and embracing remote working. If organisations’s view these changes as an inconvenience or a chore, building a work culture in this environment just won't succeed. It’s those that truly embrace remote working and set out meaningful and sustainable strategies to make it a success that will be successful
3. Hire people who are aligned with your values
At Hopin, the key to sustaining its culture is values-based hiring - Camila saw this as a huge opportunity. Being fully remote, the company can benefit from a global talent pool – but they still need to ensure that they hire the right people, people who can fit in. So, they put loads of emphasis on creating selection tools that are designed to identify those who align with their company values. And, of course, the top of their list is finding candidates who embrace remote working, not just tolerate it!
4. Focus on work-life balance
Interestingly, Hopin also assesses candidates’ self-management skills. Being a fully remote company, Camilla highlighted the risk of Hopineers being unable to ‘switch off’ at the end of the day when there’s always someone ‘on’ in their global, remote environment. The company also wanted to create those random, ‘water cooler moments’ by using its platform to run virtual ‘Hopin Hangouts’ so that Hopineers can meet random colleagues from around the world.
5. Provide a nurturing and comprehensive onboarding process
Something that many other organisations struggle with, Hopin embeds its culture from day one through a comprehensive, week-long programme of virtual, Slack-based activities. These include a Q&A session with CEO Johnny Boufarhat, internal communications and culture training, and expo-style virtual rooms where employees are introduced to various departments. Such meticulous and thoughtful onboarding ensures Hopineers not only have all the resources they need to do their job, but they also know how the company operates culturally.
6. Cultural touchstones
Camila explained how Hopin is extremely considerate in how it brings people together. Routines are really important in a remote environment, so meetings must be frequent, engaging and meaningful. Hopin hosts monthly virtual town halls, a ‘Main Stage’ quarterly kick-off meeting and core values awards, and Q & A sessions with executive leadership.
All in all, there are at least two such meetings each week. She also talked about their Friday ‘All Hands’ meetings, which employees liken to a TV show – something a bit more engaging than your average talking head and a PowerPoint deck!
7. Foster open relationships and trust
Hopin fosters an open culture through the use of Slack, which Camila refers to as Hopin’s ‘office’. A Slackbot matches random employees, who can have fifteen-minute catch-ups whenever they please. Opportunities to connect with Boufarhat and the rest of the executive team add to this inclusive culture.
She also shared that an emerging challenge of Hopin is that as it matures from a start-up to a fully-fledged operation, documentation is increasing. To manage this and make that content accessible and useful, the company has developed an internal wiki and URL shorteners to help organise documents. Additionally, Hopineers are encouraged to ensure their written communication reflects them, their personality and their values, as this often compensates for fewer face-to-face moments.
Hopin has taken advantage of being born in the age of remote working by developing its culture virtually, from the ground up. And although Camila feels there is more work to do, she equally feels that the company culture is well-placed to thrive because of all it has already achieved.
What advice does she have for other companies seeking to emulate Hopin’s success? For her, it all comes down to attitude. If companies sincerely embrace remote working, then it will be a lot easier to drive culture.
Doing this might be harder in hybrid working environments, but not impossible. Here, Boyer advises that it’s all about equality of experience. Hybrid cultures need to balance regular meetings without being regarded as inflexible, with encouraging working from home but avoiding situations where one or two people are left alone in an empty office. Only then will culture in a hybrid environment thrive.