Company culture for hybrid and distributed teams

The legendary management consultant Peter Drucker quipped that "culture eats strategy for breakfast," highlighting that a solid and empowered culture was a surefire way to business success. Fostering a strong culture relies on good hiring practices, well-run teams, and the right blend of social and professional development. Mainly, company culture is formed in person. The office is a shared starting point where teams can connect over rituals like stand-ups, all-hands, lunches, and other social gatherings.

Company culture represents transparent and honest communication, respect, and freely exchanging ideas for excellent professional and personal good at a company and individual level.

In turn, a strong team culture represents the easygoing dynamics within a team of employees, where everyone takes care of their responsibilities, knowing that it contributes to the success of everyone as a whole. Not only that, but team culture also encompasses respect, recognition, empathy, and mutual support.

In a post-covid work world, newly formed teams scramble to maintain and grow their culture. With many teams now consisting of a mixture of remote, in-office, and hybrid workers — developing a winning team culture has been more challenging for Tech Leaders than ever before.

Let's look at some of the essential aspects of team culture, the challenges ahead, and insights into what the best teams do that you can incorporate into your team. After all, if a culture does eat strategy for breakfast, it is best to stock up on some pantry essentials.

Company culture

The rise of culture-fit hiring arose not only due to companies practicing the values they are trying to represent but also because IT workers and developers need a feeling of belonging and inspiration to stay connected to the team they belong to. Considering both reasons above, it’s obvious why the culture fit has become so crucial among individual tech workers.

Now, more than ever, culture-fit hiring and remote working complement each other. But you may wonder what the secret to a winning team culture in tech is.

When someone works remotely, they must fit into your team culture exceptionally well. With the lack of physical presence between team members, the cohesive link between everyone is solely the Internet availability and their culture-fit personality traits. When someone is a perfect culture fit, there is reliability, accountability, and professional trust and bonding, which is the backbone for progressive company success across borders.

Perhaps now you somewhat understand why it’s essential for you to trust and rely on your remote employees, regardless of the distance and location. It seems the quality of work is not linked directly to physical presence in the office, but it has deep connections with the workplace team culture. There are still certain things that all senior personnel need to remember to create and preserve the team culture, things as encouragement, good work-life balance, trust, transparency, and more casual talks.

At Proxify, we’ve established a great team culture that’s evident and successful across a number of countries. And we might offer the helpful guidance you need for a good team culture thriving remotely.

Let’s begin.

1. Common culture challenges for CTOs and CEOs

Senior leadership often struggle with challenges in the most rapidly growing companies. Especially in recent years, no one has been exempt from challenges with remote and hybrid teams. Those challenges include good team culture with team building, finding and retaining the best professionals, and managing remote workers. Also, challenges further include creating team values that stand out from the rest and building an effective DEI (diversity, equity, inclusion).

This chapter will clarify the initial and preliminary thoughts on cultural challenges and managing remote or hybrid teams. Some topics we want to tackle are how you can preserve culture when outsourcing professionals and how crucial culture is in remote and hybrid teams. Also, you can find out how to define your company culture to blend it with the teams’, and if new to staff augmentation, how to find out and start with all the basics.

Besides this, you’ll see how to quickly begin with process documenting as an initial step to outsourcing and recording all actions, as well as helpful guidance for overcoming distance and lack of bonding when you learn the cultural norms of your remote employees.

1.1 The typical outsourcing journey and why it’s not built for preserving culture

By definition, outsourcing means hiring an outside person to do a specific job externally, despite already having in-house employees. From this, it’s already apparent how team culture and outsourcing could collide – nobody can know what type of personality and culture they hire when they choose staff augmentation.

Why do we say so? Typically, with freelancing, you see an approximate score for each developer reflecting how technically well they did their job. You’ll see, perhaps, a review saying that John Doe respected the deadline and is creative or that they have a keen eye for detail. But you won’t know if their personality clicks with yours, if it will be easy to manage them, or if they don’t reflect your company’s political and societal values.

These things require a one-on-one screening or a word-of-mouth recommendation from someone who already knows your potential freelancer.

So, the typical outsourcing journey does not guarantee a perfect match for your team culture, but it would be ideal if it did, right?

You may wonder if there are telltale signs that would describe the distributed hire upfront before they merge with your existing team. The signs won’t be as transparent and evident, and even if they somewhat are during the initial interviewing stages, things will crystallize and become more apparent once the remote candidate enters your remote or hybrid team. Then, things get riskier in most cases unless recognized and managed correctly and early on.

Companies and startups outsource to control, reduce costs for specific tasks and operations, and increase productivity and efficiency. And this is perfectly fine, as long as you’re not trying to keep that distributed team member as a part of your regular A team. As much as there are outsourcing benefits, this process might diminish good and established team culture and outweigh the benefits. But, if the process is not conducted correctly, i.e., the culture fit aspects do not overlap, you end up hiring the wrong person for the job.

There are obvious and direct downsides to outsourcing for team culture, along with benefits. These include insecure team member morale and lack of flexibility, control, and security, reflecting on the in-house team.

It is also common to have distributed team members in a completely different time zone and overseas, complicating the regular communication of all team members and the need to get to know each other. With the growth of team members in a remote and hybrid setting, in-house employees could need help to stay connected to the vast and rapidly-growing team. This could result in decreased productivity due to irregular and superficial communication between everyone involved or, sadly, even quitting jobs.

The best way to avoid a problem is to prevent it. If you still need to fit the culture, hire at the beginning through personalized and welcoming onboarding or frequent communication and collaborative activities between departments.

Sometimes outsourcing is the best option for your company’s progress. But, to preserve a good team culture, you need a strategy that will bring everyone together. Most importantly, in a time of remote and hybrid working in IT, culture fit is the key to successful work relationships and healthy team culture.

“The secret to a successful outsourcing partnership lies in understanding which parts of the business benefit from outsourcing and then finding and selecting a partner with the optimal balance of capabilities and cultural fit for your business”, said the ex-SVP of American Express in the ‘90s, Robin Barett. So, it’s no wonder most distributed roles are seen in the tech and IT industries. Even in the ‘90s, culture was essential and recognized for outsourcing, a significant strategic move. Now it appears that a culture fit is more important than ever for outsourcing in IT.

In an industry that battles high turnover rates and unparalleled opportunities springing up every day around the corner, you, as a leader of a distributed team, will want to find the best culture fit to fill a vacancy. Why? Because without having the benefit of spending time together in an office and learning about your dev’s personality and views, you will spend months trying to find a mutual language, only to see that your efforts were probably in vain.

It’s the age-old question of whether you prefer to have a talented professional who isn’t cooperative and flexible or one that might require some coaching but is open to doing soon, and people are happy to work with them. The former is often a situation you can’t foresee with traditional outsourcing on freelance marketplaces.

1.2 Why culture is even more important for remote and hybrid teams

There’s no denying that team culture is the solid base for any company that thrives with mutual efforts. But, if you have a lot of remote and hybrid workers, this gets even more important and under the spotlight.

Every leader should ensure that the distributed team members do their job well, get along with everyone, and have a sense of belonging in that team and company. Since a chain is no stronger than its weakest link, you understand how even one dissatisfied worker can strain a healthy team culture.

In a remote and hybrid setting, workers are not present on the same premises. All they can rely on is online correspondence, hopefully matching well with one another when they are all together in one team and company. This, in turn, will strengthen their team culture, provided that all their cultural differences blend well with one another and your company’s.

But how would differences blend well in a diverse team with no shared workspace? By well-executed management. To do this, you need to understand all the different backgrounds of your employees, in-house and remote, to understand how to better group, connect, and manage them individually and on team and company levels.

Culture is even more important for hybrid and remote teams because, more often than not, different cultural backgrounds, process rules, and cultures fit aspects differently. In some cultures, people are talkative and upfront, while in others, they’re more subtle and indirect.

The way employees behave naturally and culturally will also affect their professional expectations and cooperativeness in the long run. Cultural differences may even be misinterpreted when this happens only via written communication.

Such cultural differences are far from trivial in the workplace. Imagine a tech team with members of different cultures and different professional environments in their past. Chances are the communication and cohesion between the team members will likely not be synchronized ideally – as a great team culture should be unless you try to merge the differences while respecting their separate individualities.

This doesn’t mean forming teams strictly with individuals with similar cultures. Instead, you can think of strategies to embrace their differences and make the team do the same. You can strengthen the team and the whole company culture by setting solid, transparent, and empathetic company values without prejudice or poor communication. Encouraging transparent communication and adopting an empathetic viewpoint will help you make the team members feel happy, accepted, and valued. And, as we all know, happy employees are productive employees.

When there is a lack of physical contact and communication, there has to be a boost in the team and company values. Finding meaning and belonging in the team motivates employees to try their best. As described in The Oxford Handbook of Meaningful Work, belief in meaningful personal contribution, ethics, and personal progress constructs professional, significant loyalty in a fast-paced technology world. But, for employees, these values are hard to follow when the (remote and hybrid) work environment doesn’t promote empathy, communication, or recognition.

You would risk diminishing your employees’ morale without adequate and empathetic communication and values. Employees risk burnout, underperformance, and slacking work dynamics due to a lack of motivation and recognition of their skills and values. So, managers and HR must become brand and culture promoters in digital communication environments.

You are probably thinking how complex and hard it would be to manage empathy and recognition when you have dozens or hundreds of employees under your management but succeeding with one individual, then the whole team, and beyond means you’ll succeed with the other teams and everyone in total.

Perhaps one sure way to successfully promote good team culture is to first promote the company culture values with team managers and leads, who will, in turn, boost your values with the team members under their management. Think of it as a hierarchical bestowing of company culture values for an even greater team culture.

1.3 What is your culture, and how will it blend with your distributed team members

Most in-the-office environments rely on pizza parties, yoga, and casual Fridays and call that team culture, but this is far from the truth. Without substantial communication and respect, this is ineffective for promoting a healthy team and company culture in on-site work environments, and it surely doesn’t apply in remote and hybrid settings either. These examples are too far from corporate culture values, mainly if poor rapport, stress, and burnout occur all the time.

Company and team culture values are not the palpable aspects but rather the abstract impression and feeling of happiness in work. Instead, company culture is likely how your employees feel about working for and with you, how comfortable they convey their POVs, the solid rapport you all share, and how everyone happily works toward the big-picture goal under your leadership. Physical distance should not be an obstacle to nurturing good company values.

Let’s imagine that the remote-hybrid environment is suddenly changed to an on-site type. Even then, it would be impossible for CEOs, CTOs, managers, and HR to have bonding face-to-face chit-chats in every premise, with every team, at almost every break. You see how physical contact is not the prerequisite for quality team culture. Instead, the lasting impression, progressive attitude, loyalty, and recognition are team culture at its finest.

But all of this doesn’t make it too easy to define your own company and team culture, so let’s have a look at the culture categorization diagram below:

Culture categorization diagram Organizational cultures typology of Cameron and Quinn; 1999

Based on this, you should clearly understand whether your company culture leans toward something flexible or stable. From there onward, with flexibility preferably, you’ll understand how to better blend your culture with the team culture of your remote hires.

Perhaps the company and team culture example of Elon Musk is the one to avoid if you want good employee retention and happy team members in the time to come. Nowadays, do you think you should see all your employees in the office just to be convinced they are doing a good job? Are impressive OKRs and other goals not enough proof that someone does their job well?

This sounds incredibly awkward in the context of the IT industry, where everyone is a master at using various tech and software for work and communication. In this case, positive and empathetic company values will uplift your distributed team’s culture and motivate employees more, regardless of the geographical distance.

No need to doubt whether the generally accepted, positive company values will be successfully blended with your remote employees. You cannot go wrong with transparency, equal treatment, and open communication. Instead of reprimands, perhaps consultative discussions, clearer directions, reasonable assistance, and team bonding will work better. In good or challenging times – culture always works wonders, makes team members happy, and helps companies thrive.

1.4 How do companies with distributed teams deal with culture

Perhaps the most significant cultural challenge that companies face with distributed and hybrid teams are the variety of cultures or how to merge them cohesively to make the team more blended and cohesive without leaving anyone unnoticed or undervalued.

As remote work is on the rise, and with it, productivity too (despite initial concerns). More than ever, sustaining a solid distributed team culture that will strengthen the company values and affirm the team’s happiness and productivity is crucial. Building trust and cultural values are not something you do overnight, but there are certain things successful companies do to refine their values and create winning tech team cultures remotely.

When there is a lack of physical closeness, culture and abstract values of those professional relationships is the core thing that bonds everything together, no matter the mileage between geographical location. Loyalty, appreciation, and professional values make everyone wake up and start working, even when not in the same offices, cities, or countries.

With solid culture values, companies manage to not only make their employees happy and productive but they improve the whole hiring, onboarding, and working process continuously.

Here are some of the best practices of companies that focus on cultural values in distributed teams:

  • Know your employees – A genuine approach to knowing your employees is the foundation to sustain and nurture culture remotely. This goes way beyond just knowing their educational background and resume sections. Whether socioeconomic background, religious beliefs and holidays, best personality traits, and other things, it all contributes to their day-to-day attitude and behavior. Take an interest in knowing the fears or challenges they face in the workplace, too, so that you can take measures to assist where suitable.
  • Invest in training and mentorship – By providing mentorship, and additional training where needed, the newcomers can already feel like they are a part of a great team culture. You’ll make them feel valued by allowing them to improve their skills, retain their job position, and maximize their skills.
  • Launch onboarding and make it less corporate – It’s a great idea to not just rely on onboarding for weaning in the new employees. Still, this process can be made much more welcoming and effective for promoting company values of team entrance. (I invite you to see chapter 2 of this Insight for more details on this process).
  • Organize regular QA sessions and weekly catch-ups – A virtual work environment connects you and the employees. So obviously, regular meetings and video calls are a fantastic way to stay in touch with the teams' progress. At the same time, you’ll connect with them much better when they can freely ask for guidance or even engage in casual “water cooler fun chats” with everyone. Through weekly group meetings, everyone can see the updates and progress of the company overall. And with regular QA sessions or 1on1s, team members can also update each other on their group and individual efforts. This way, everyone is included in everything and with one another.
  • Let the team lead take the lead – It’s essential to trust and rely on your team leaders because they are the link between you and all subsequent employees. Besides, team leaders convey your company culture and reflect it on the team members. When you motivate them, they motivate the rest of the team, and everyone works cohesively for the more excellent company good.
  • Rely on transparency and honesty – Open communication is often quite underrated, especially in the busy corporate tech world. Still practicing it with everyone in the company allows employees to feel safe, cared for, assisted, and respected.
  • Define the communication hours – Even if you offer flexible working hours, it’s a good idea to set some fixed communication hours where everyone logs into a meeting or asks questions to protect the healthy boundaries for communication and availability. An excellent work-life balance starts like this, among other things.
  • Use communication software apps with many subchannels and groups – Besides using software for communication on a company level, try to make as many precise subgroups and channels as possible. This represents everyone’s role clearly, by grouping vocations together in respective channels. Employees can address their concerns and questions in suitable groups if something is unclear or challenging. Think of it as a nice virtual inclusion for all.
  • Host virtual events – Think more casual and less corporate here. Think team building, empathy, fun chats, culture presentations, or anything that takes the pressure off work and lets the employees bond with you and one another.
  • Organize trips – It is a great idea to gather everyone from the company in a specific location once or twice a year. This can be the host country where the company is or another country that everyone could quickly arrive to. A collective onsite team building at its finest.
  • Participate in various celebrations and major life events of employees – Don’t forget to send out gifts for onboarding and to welcome or for various celebrations. If someone has just become a parent or celebrates their birthday, a religious/cultural holiday, a simple written word, or a gift is always a warm gesture they’ll remember for time to come.
  • Ask for and cherish employee feedback – What better way to affirm the cultural values you have other than constantly checking if you’re doing it right? Once companies achieve something, it’s easy to let progress slip through the cracks and to think good things will remain like that naturally and without effort. But, when you constantly work hard on preserving and growing the company culture, guess what happens? The company culture and values will never cease to exist. Asking for employee feedback will help you understand what can be improved and what is going great for everyone.

Andreas Silén, the CTO of Roaring, recognizes the significance of valuing cultural values in a hybrid workplace:

“We see the benefits of having a certain golden ratio of employees in-house and working remotely. I am not sure what the ideal formula is, but it’s really good to have some people not working from the same place; it adds this productivity of being undisturbed, which you cannot deny.

Another proof that remote and hybrid workplaces can thrive perfectly, despite physical distance, is Measuremen. Their IT & development director Jordy Finkers advises,

"You have to make some changes sometimes to accommodate people working remotely and ensure that everyone feels like they’re still part of a team even when they are not working at the office. You have to make it a part of day-to-day business and make sure you still have plenty of connections with all team members”

1.5 How to keep up with process documentation and why it’s essential

Process documentation represents creating documents that record the actions and steps that need to be taken, and are taken, for seamless coordination and collaboration. All information for that process is noted in detail and stored in one location that’s easy for everyone in a distributed team to access.

There are numerous benefits to documenting processes, and one of them is to document everything for the future company’s growth in the long run. This relates strongly to the culture – team members can see the long-term vision, values, and mission.

Here are some reasons why documenting processes will improve and strengthen the company culture.

  • Consistency – When you document processes, the job tasks are better understood, and there are no ad-hoc unexpected actions or obstacles at a team level. Everyone on the team knows well what they do and how they do it.
  • Better productivity – With a clear vision of everyone’s obligations and tasks, it’s easier for everyone to be more productive and less confused about what’s expected of them.
  • No errors – No room for faults or errors on the job once you start documenting everything. Even if something appears as an obstacle, it can be quickly resolved early on with the help of rules and guidelines documented so far.
  • Organized and clear structure – Everyone knows what they are doing, how, and when, and it’s generally much easier to be self-reflective and self-conscious when things are clear for everyone in the team and company. Process documentation clarifies everyone’s roles and responsibilities, and records actions that were taken along the way, so eventually, all team members know what their contribution is.
  • Quicker onboarding – When you preserve everything, every regulated action represents valuable resources later on for preserving the work progress and the overall culture. Whether you document challenges, things to be improved, and so on, you can use them for improved onboarding of future employees too. Next time someone needs training or additional skill-improving during onboarding, recorded documents of this type are the go-to choice to get things started. This way, everyone will clearly understand what is expected of them, their role, and how to best meet all business needs in the future.
  • Clear guidance – For every conundrum or doubt, these recorded documents will be a good reminder of the business essentials. These are the essentials regarding how the employment started, what were the focus points for it, what needed improvement, or what went smoothly – all of this can be used to clarify any uncertainties that the employees have, as well as uncertainties that the CTO or HR have too. These documents will always be the best asset to align your long-term goals with the culture fit you hired.
  • Time-efficiency – Whenever things get challenging within a company, you can easily access all records in one place instead of wasting time doing everything chaotically later.

1.6 Overcoming physical distance, time zones, and the lack of bonding

With remote and hybrid work models, there will be some common challenges, like physical distance, the difference in time zones, and with this all, less bonding than initially imagined or expected. But this raises the question: is physical closeness the most valid parameter for bonding within a team? In all truth, not necessarily.

With the proper attitude and clear company values, you can achieve a company culture that is even better than most in-house and on-site companies and teams. Since distance is the most prominent issue and challenge, in this case, let’s define the distance types of virtual teams before finding solutions:

  1. Physical – This is the apparent distance between remote workers and the companies, with a lack of face-to-face contact, except virtual screens and meetings software usage. In this case, there is no body language reading.
  2. Operational – This type of distance refers to how employees do their job, i.e., whether they communicate with each other or their roles entitle individual work (for example, compare the “individualistic” developers and other roles in the company with more team cohesion). At the same time, operational distance enhances flaws in the management of teams or how roles are compared and perceived differently.
  3. Emotional – The emotional distance represents how bonded or, instead, not bonded the employees are between one another or the rest of their broader team. It also refers to whether they feel a sense of belonging, understanding, mutual empathy, team camaraderie, and even friendship.

It’s incredibly possible to act on improving all of these types of distances within your team of remote and hybrid employees.

The physical distance is quickly resolved, and its downsides are alleviated if, for example, you adopt regular video calls and virtual meetings. Meetings of this type don’t even need to be 100% work-oriented. They could include team building activities that also, at the same time, enable better getting-to-know each other and bonding as well.

For the operational distance, it’s a good idea to hear what employees think about their day-to-day tasks, how they hold themselves accountable or objective and unbiased for their work, and even engage them all in discussions for future improvements and value they could bring.

Here, it’s important to remember that you must think about cohesion, not division. Discuss the crossing points where various roles overlap or could get in touch. For example, combining designers and content writers in a meeting is an excellent idea to bond employees, as they mutually think toward a goal that includes them all (the writers could regularly communicate with the designers for the final visuals of written work. Or developers and website designers could also stay in touch and bond better through mutual work goals where they complement one another).

Last but not least, for the emotional distance, the apparent solution is to bond better with your team through genuine interest in their issues, concerns, and life. Like every human being, remote employees want to be seen not just as a hired skillset but as human beings with unique personalities and lifestyles.

To reduce any kind of distance between you and the distributed team, you can always consider the following:

  • Share positive, empathetic, and fun messages in the group channels;
  • Avoid the generic small talk, and genuinely take an interest during conversations;
  • Ask how their weekend went, or if they have something fun and interesting they’d like to share;
  • Ask whether you can offer some help or assistance with their work;
  • Consider scheduling regular 1on1 meetings for regular feedback and rapport on the workflow;
  • Schedule casual meetings (such as Show n’ Tell style meetings) where everyone casually shares everything they learned, or fun personal recommendations as well.

Regarding different time zones, the solutions are as simple as possible. Even if different parts of the team are dispersed around the globe, there are still a few hours in a full day when both groups can get in touch within daily work hours. Here is an exquisite example of how Proxify successfully blended distributed team members from various locations. Instead of company group meetings at 9 a.m. CET, we have switched to 3 p.m. CET meetings – this way, everyone could log in to the meeting at normal, daily working hours without missing out, regardless of geographical location.

1.7 Learning local cultural norms and expectations

First, let’s define the cultural norms of remote employees and the types of cultural differences. How do they all merge in the context of winning team culture?

Cultural norms represent the cultural rules that people live by. Those rules (and expectations) result from the thoughts, behaviors, and traditions of individuals of a certain culture, group, ethnicity, or social belonging.

How do different cultures bring importance to a team culture?

You make your team stronger, cohesive, and more goal-oriented when you are familiarised with everyone’s cultural background, and make everyone feel like they belong with your company and like they bring their unique and appreciated values and inputs. Not only that, but when you understand the cultural differences (when compared to your cultural values), you’ll be able to add to the acceptance, respect, and recognition of remote workers of different backgrounds.

Let’s mull over the downsides of not familiarising yourself with the employees’ cultures. What happens, in this case, is demotivation, a sense of being an outsider, reduced team communication, and hindered productivity.

This is why team leaders must learn the cultural norms of the employees. This way, you will know what to expect of the employees instead of wondering whether their behavior, habits, or communication style is appropriate just because many norms differ from yours.

For example, cultural differences can range from age gaps, ethnical background, and religion to that social group's education and economic status. It would be expected that cultural values will differ quite drastically between all of these groups mentioned above, mainly when they are all employed in one team/company.

Still, it would be your responsibility to merge the positives of acceptance and empathy and not encourage the negatives, such as prejudices or exclusion. Try to understand how employees of different cultural backgrounds employees will likely bring different values, communication styles, and approaches to their work, which could seemingly (falsely) cause teamwork discrepancy if not managed well ahead. These discrepancies within the diverse team could mean anything from body language, facial expressions and eye contact, tone of voice, specific phrasings, extroversion or introversion, or dress code, among others.

Best practices and things to remember for learning cultural norms of remote employees

  1. Be genuinely curious and learn about your employees’ cultural backgrounds
  2. Initiate more casual meetings and frequent 1on1s.
  3. Respect and acknowledge national and religious holidays and celebrations
  4. Consider diversity training days.
  5. Ask employees for occasional feedback on what can be improved for them
  6. Recognize and acknowledge excellent work.
  7. Unify employees toward a learning-oriented company culture by allowing them easy access to learning tools and materials.
  8. Instil trust, transparency, and empathy.
  9. Behave as you want your employees to behave by reflecting the values you want to see in the team.
  10. Create rules that apply to everyone, like a certain number of days off, sick and parental leave, etc., that are accustomed to their country’s policy but aren’t unfair to other team members.

Be ready to adapt and innovate to changes and improvements in the workplace culture. Your employees would gladly see you reflect trust, empathy, and transparency. Sometimes, it’s a good idea to let team leaders take over the control and reflect your values with their team members.

Boost the employees’ confidence through recognition, frequent communication, and valuing their work. Remember, the workspace environment must be a safe and peaceful place of productivity and motivation, not the opposite. And do not forget about perfecting the onboarding process to create a more welcoming experience for newcomers.

2. How to ensure your distributed team mirrors your culture

Finding and hiring the best tech workers takes work, especially when culture is concerned. No matter how skilled someone is in their vocation in IT, if they don’t fit in well with your company culture and team values, retention might be at risk.

This is why it’s crucial to find a culturally fit remote developer or engineer who will stay for time to come and progress with your company. But, to do so, you need to ensure a cultural fit in all preceding stages before the hiring itself. Otherwise, a great talent might slip through the cracks and apply elsewhere.

How to make the best out of your company culture values to attract applicants? How can you define and promote those values in the best way possible? Do you know precisely what type of culture you promote in the first place?

Once you clarify all of this, from there on, you can get a few steps closer to the ideal tech job seekers through the perfect job ad that describes your company. But it doesn’t end there, and the hiring is still preceded by stages that mirror your culture.

Let’s first focus on culture-defining on your end before you take the needed steps for attracting and hiring tech applicants.

2.1 The Johnson and Scholes cultural web

The Johnson and Scholes cultural web represents a diagram of organizational culture aspects, i.e., a visual method to help senior leadership define and audit the culture within an organization. Created in 1992, this model has been a handy tool for CEOs and managers since, mainly because it defines the core, the paradigm at the center of organizational culture.

With the help of this diagram, you can explore all the various structures of power and delegating, habits and behaviors that intersect with everyone in the company, and define the present culture of the company.

Even more importantly, with this model, you can shape and direct the future of your company and team’s culture. It helps you find out how things function, some barriers or focus points, and what future changes could be made.

Let’s break it down.

Johnson and Scholes cultural web

The cultural web model comprises six surrounding segments around the core, the paradigm, or the essence of organizational culture. The segments are:

  1. Stories and myths – The past notable events of the company belong in this category. All examples of the beginnings of the business, catchy stories, inspirational events, and notable individuals with their contributions. These stories of successes or challenges pass on from one generation to another in the company. They can include values, beliefs, and company and team culture.

  2. Rituals and routines – These are the practices and norms of functioning, the most frequently repeated actions in the company. Most often, these rules are unwritten but perfectly known by everyone. Inclusiveness, non-discrimination, daily routines, or regular daily activities also belong here.

  3. Symbols – These visuals help someone associate the company with those visuals and symbols. Here we have any logos, heavily marketed designs, the dress codes of everyone included, any ads depicting the company identity, and similar. This is how your company (or everyone involved) presents itself/themselves to the public.

  4. Power structures – These are all the aspects that keep the company relevant, in power, and successful. All people of power, stakeholders, leadership, and significant figures belong here, or everyone with the “big say” in the organization, such as CEOs and executives.

  5. Organisational structures – In this segment, there is hierarchical order, delegating responsibilities to specific roles, defining clearly what each role is responsible for, and so on. These are often informal, known in advance, and transparent. In summary, here we have both informal power and formal structure, or how they both meet halfway.

  6. Control systems – The control systems represent how leadership controls actions, work, and procedures within the organization. This can include specific software usage, the operations of the IT, finances, and QA sectors, among others, incentives or deterrents, recognition methods, and similar.

But why is this diagram model essential, especially if you are the senior leadership or management? It’s pretty simple. This is used to improve the company and team culture simultaneously with the company’s performance. The cultural web is fantastic for determining your corporate culture with all its strong and weak points, but also for directing you toward future actions and culture-enhancing strategies.

You may know your company culture or in which direction you envision it. You may also know what team culture values you see in the teams, but overall, you may have yet to delve into detail for all subsequent segments that comprise your cultural values. With this diagram, you’ll be able to “dissect and analyze” all the main segments that are the puzzle pieces of the whole company culture. It will be much easier to maintain or improve the cultural values from here on out.

2.2 How to reflect your culture in the job ad

Having great and solid company culture values is fantastic. Still, if they are not reflected in the job ad, you could miss out on highly-skilled individuals who could bring tremendous value to your business.

There is another possible and very likely scenario. You might reflect all the best values in the job ad, but those who apply might not be the perfect and expected fit for the culture reflected in your ad.

It could be tricky to hit the sweet spot for both these scenarios and find someone that’s a cultural fit and will stay for time to come, but not impossible. After all, even the best candidates might leave after some time once you both see how your values do not match or overlap in the long run.

How job seekers perceive your company culture in job ads

It’s crucial to make the job ad as perfect as possible, i.e., reflect all your values, the core of your culture, and the essence of your company. In times of virtual job hunting and popularity in remote work, the link between you and a highly-skilled job seeker is the job ad you create.

Despite seeing the usual information like working hours, salary (or the chance to negotiate salary), benefits, and perks, the ad must contain your values and culture. This means mentioning the things that make your employees happy, thriving, motivated, and eager to work with you. Make it about people first and all else second. No worries, your company will still get the same respect and recognition even if you do this.

Job seekers want a place that offers psychological peace, transparency, respect, work-life balance, flexibility, empathy, and career thriving. It’s not so popular to apply somewhere just for attractive salaries if it comes at the cost of stress and a sense of not belonging.

How to convey your company culture in the job ad and attract better applicants

We all know what the basics of a job ad are:

  • Job title;
  • Location;
  • Responsibilities ;
  • Education and experience;
  • Perks and benefits;
  • Salary (or opportunity for salary TBD and negotiable);
  • Flexible or fixed working schedule;
  • About the company.

However, now we’ll focus on reflecting your values and culture in the job ad to easily match with another cultural fit for your company. With the exemplary aspects mentioned, you should answer this question for the job seeker: “Why you’ll love working with us? Here is a list of reasons why.”

Consider the following:

  1. Use linguistic consistency – If you are highly corporate, use language that corresponds to the status. Large enterprises and too casual language in the job ad do not complement each other well.

  2. Focus on transparency – There’s no need to hide or omit some challenges in that job role just because it might scare away applicants. The more honest you are, the better impression you leave on job seekers. Applicants will know that your company is a place of honesty above all.

  3. Express the cultural and company values – don’t shy away from mentioning the values and culture that you are proud of and thrive with. Feel free to brag honestly and freely about the culture that took time to build and sustain. What do you value in your culture? Open communication and trust? Encouraging learning and team camaraderie? Mention everything that makes your employees happy.

  4. Mention growth – Make the applicants feel and know they can progress as you and your company progress. This adds value to their work and previous experience and value to them as human beings. They won’t be seen as clerical workers that just diligently do their chores, but instead, you’ll get a chance to tap into their potential, enable them to grow, and allow the same for your business through it.

  5. Avoid cliché expressions – Jargon of that type might reduce the relevance you want to reflect, as well as the core values and solid cultural traits. It could sound scammy or suspicious or like there is something that’s not transparent in the ad and is masked through cheeky-playful or unprofessional language. Those ads get skipped most of the time.

  6. Describe the flexibility opportunities – It’s always nice to know that there are flexible hours. Everyone likes a little bit of non-micromanagement. This is mentioned not to be taken advantage of but simply to enhance trust. This way, you invest in the potential new team member and let them know that everyone needs a break here and there, as long as the work dynamic and workflow go smoothly as agreed.

  7. Make applicants feel like the “desired pros” in their field – Try to vibrantly express how you appreciate the role you need to fill. Accentuate all the best traits of the role you need to fill.

2.3 How to reflect your culture in the interviewing process

So, let’s say you have established a great company culture over time, and you worked hard for it to make it outstanding. And you even reflected it in the job ad as well. But now, reflecting on that culture and values is equally crucial during the interview process.

Think of the interview process as one step before onboarding. Think of it as the initial potential welcoming of the new team member or as the first impression you leave. And this is incredibly important because if so far you have managed to capture and reflect your values in all preceding stages perfectly, and the interview slacks behind this all, it could cause significant confusion and discrepancy in what the potential new employee perceives. This potential new team member might even start seriously doubting the validity of the company’s values. And why wouldn’t they doubt it? They might even think about what next surprises follow if, at the very beginning, values are not as synchronized as they appeared.

The scenario mentioned above was where the company values were not reflected during the interview, and confusion could arise. But let’s imagine you reflect the values perfectly during the interview. This scenario is an interview asset for you and the company, even if the applicant is not so great of a fit. By exhibiting your values in the interview stages, you can see if the applicant reciprocates, mirrors them, or at least makes a genuine effort to adapt to the values and adopt them quickly.

Being on the same page with applicants’ cultural values is crucial, and seeing if they mirror it, or want to mirror them sincerely, will crystalize a lot of initial doubts for the recruiter.

Provided that you previously managed to reflect your values, let’s assume that value reflecting was successful during recruitment events and marketing campaigns on job boards before moving forward with interviewing.

Consider these tips and directions to reflect your company values best during the interview:

  1. Don’t be shy about sharing values – Your values and presenting them don’t start with the interview, of course, and it’s not just a one-time thing. Ensure that you always, regularly, and continuously show the values through your website, blog, job board profile, and everything that represents your company. Company values are similar to the concept of trust – it takes a lot of time to build and establish, but it’s always worth it because consistency makes it rock-solid and long-lasting. Mention all the values you are most proud of and all those that make your employees happy. Don’t just focus on casual Fridays or dress codes and similar things. Instead, accentuate a playful communication style, transparency, and assistance in all daily communications, or emphasize how employees should not be afraid to ask for guidance or help. Tell them exactly why they’ll be happy to work in your company in the long run.

  2. Use a brief culture introduction tour before the interview – If possible, it’s a good idea to prepare some materials beforehand to share with applicants. This can be an excellent informative and casual video or a brief but catchy marketing campaign that you have publicly uploaded on your website and all professional profiles. Something like this will smoothly introduce the applicant to your company culture and might provide more information about your values than just written and published text. This can be published publicly, as mentioned, or even shared with applicants scheduled for interviews, with a warm message that expresses your enthusiasm to meet potential new team members.

  3. Consider multiple-stage interviews and include current staff – Let’s be honest with just one scheduled interview, there’s not much of an opportunity to showcase everything culture-wise. So, you could schedule more than one interview call with the same applicant but with various representatives from the company over a short period. Consider a three-stage interview. First, the recruiter or team lead narrowed down the selection of applicants. They explain what the job entitles and get to know the candidate first. Second, a CTO or another manager could meet the candidate and ask more in-depth questions about their experience and expertise. And in the third stage, a peer or team lead could directly meet the applicant before they make the final decision. Multiple stage interviews with staff members and senior leadership show the applicant that you care and your company cares about getting to know the person and their expertise. It’s going the extra mile to ensure a good cultural fit, not just an expertise fit. This is one key element for a fruitful and lasting collaborative attitude.

  4. Prepare your surroundings – A tidy and quiet environment is underrated. Often, interviewers can make the mistake of not setting aside time to prepare for the interview, just as it’s expected of the applicant to do the same. If coworkers move around, or the room seems quite crowded, and with various distractions, the applicant may think you don’t fully respect their time to appear and represent their best for you. No matter how good the noise-canceling equipment that the interviewer uses, surrounding distractions (visual or auditory) are not the best impression.

  5. Use welcoming body language and have an empathetic conversation – Eye contact, friendly smiles, and warm language go a long way. You don’t want to make the applicant nervous or anxious by constantly writing down things and not warmly bonding – this could make them feel like they are in an exam with a professor and add to the initial shakiness that’s normal during first-time interviews.

  6. Think broader than just focusing on the resume – You need to personalize the interview and not make it just about resume and expertise. Try to make the interviewee relaxed, and from there on, the conversation will run smoothly and pleasantly. A simple question about how they are or how their day is going so far, along with a smile, works wonders for adding value to your culture. Rest assured, interviewees, notice little things like that.

  7. Be curious to hear the applicant’s questions as well – Interviews shouldn’t be one-sided, and it’s highly encouraged that you take an interest in what the applicant has to say or ask. You'll make them feel more comfortable, valued, and respected when they can speak up and share their opinions or dilemmas.

  8. Provide constructive feedback on time – Don’t forget to give feedback or a follow-up to the applicants you interviewed. If they didn’t get the job, suitable gratitude for participating and wishing the best of luck is a great idea. Or, if the interviewing process is still ongoing and prolonged, a follow-up to applicants notifying them of this is helpful to let them know they are not forgotten. Otherwise, they might think they are instantly rejected and not even notified about it so that they can move forward with other interviews.

How to ask cultural-oriented interview questions

Now that we’ve clarified the crucial segments about reflecting on your cultural values during the interview, let’s move on to some valuable tips for making the interview questions more culture-oriented.

For example, some helpful questions are:

  1. How do you believe you fit well with our culture?
  2. What do you like most about the values that we reflect?
  3. What is your approach to stressful or challenging situations and pressing deadlines?
  4. What is your greatest personal strength or personality trait that helps you work efficiently and get along well with your leadership and team members?
  5. If you could, what part of cultural aspects would you change at the previous workplace?
  6. Describe the most pleasant collaborative experience you have had with previous coworkers or team members. What helped make it productive and good?
  7. How can leadership boost the productivity and morale of employees, in your opinion?
  8. Describe the perfect work day for you.
  9. How do you hope to learn or progress with us?
  10. Why do you think you’ll be an excellent fit for us?

Sandra Zafirova, recruitment lead at Proxify, explains how culture is reflected in the interview so that Proxify is transparently presenting its cultural values to interviewees:

First, we ensure that we have a fantastic recruitment team that resonates, shares, and promotes Proxify values in hearts. Only then can we rest assured that candidates will get the actual image of the company’s culture by identifying with the organization and ensuring excellent candidate experience throughout the hiring process. Let’s suppose the internal team behind the mission and vision of the company are fulfilled and happy. In that case, there is no reason why it would be any less different when interviewing a “wannabe Proxifier.” Professionalism, work ethic, integrity, humbleness, and human-centric focus are our non-negotiable values, and we strive to keep them that way.

author Sandra Zafirova

2.4 How onboarding your remote hire properly will help them fit in better

Now that the initial interview stages are finalized, the next is onboarding. This is yet another hiring stage where your company culture reflects, just as equally as in the preceding stages. This is just as crucial because the new tech hire needs to feel like they already belong, and the welcoming needs to be genuine and the same as your reflected culture.

What can you do during the onboarding to reflect your company culture values?

Successful onboarding is not just hiring someone, giving them access to their emails and similar information, and letting them get to know other coworkers only. Successful onboarding means presenting the same sense of culture and company values as so far.

The new hire must feel confident and enthusiastic during this initial period and not stressed or uninformed of the culture that awaits. With the help of a few simple but excellent best practices for onboarding, you can present the culture perfectly and welcome the new developers in the best way possible.

1. Start onboarding earlier

There is nothing more stressful for new employees than being in the dark and feeling like they know nothing once they start working in the new environment. Make them feel informed and welcomed by onboarding them earlier than the first work day.

A good rule of thumb is onboarding one or two weeks before the starting day so that in this period, they can learn the company culture better, they can explore helpful information that you can provide them with, and even learn something new about the company that they might have missed out before.

For example, the new developer or engineer can access specific databases, know the development work dynamics better, and even see what was done before and what they need to continue for ongoing clients.

By onboarding earlier, you give the newcomers a chance to take notes of what they need to learn better before they start working, and you reduce their anxiety. They can ask questions before the first work day, be well-informed, and not be anxious.

2. Send branded company swag

It’s impossible not to like receiving tokens of appreciation and gifts, especially if for proper recognition and welcome, as in the professional sense now.

An action like this translates as: “We welcome you, we appreciate you, and we think of you as one of us already! Try on our branded shirt, or set up your new computer and type away. To many more successes with us, and welcome to the team.”

The onboarding gift can be both valuable and fun at the same time, starting from office supplies to a branded piece of clothing or similar – and it shows your cultural values are admirable and you ensure the newcomers feel joyous right before they start (which is usually a stressful period otherwise).

3. Learn valuable and interesting details about the new hire

Before you introduce the new tech newcomer to the team, it’s a good idea to explore what they are like in terms of interests, hobbies, fun leisure activities, and similar. You can prepare a fun and casual introduction for the rest of the company, and the newcomer won’t have to be shy and anxious when introducing themselves in front of the rest.

Once you say all the cool things and icebreakers about the new hire at the group meeting, everyone will already be in a good, smiley mood, and the new hire can also say their greetings and meet the rest of the company.

This introduction confirms that you reflect empathy in your company culture and remove the stress from the generic and boring official, corporate resume-oriented self-introduction speeches.

4. Inform the rest of the employees about newly hired individuals

As mentioned, transparency and honesty must be the must-haves of every company culture. So, to follow through, be transparent and honest by letting everyone know about new team members that will start soon.

And keep the simple and informative introduction of the newcomers for that specific first day when they officially begin.

5. Encourage the new hire to be curious and ask questions

At the core value of onboarding is to educate and direct the new hire as clearly as possible. This means they should feel free and comfortable to state if something is unclear or if they have a slower pace at understanding what is what at first.

Encourage them to ask questions for anything they find unclear at the start, and they can direct their questions to the specific job roles responsible for those sectors of your company. But of course, don’t forget to “assign” their team lead, who will lead them every step of the way and assist them during and after the onboarding.

6. Promote creative team-building activities early on during onboarding

Think more creatively about team building, not just the regular standard ideas. Think virtual fun team meetings, more frequent 1on1s with the new hire, and 1on1s they can have with the team lead (and their initial work buddy).

Why not even consider a check-in time for a break and a brief, casual video call once a week? Or clarifying-coaching briefs every few days? Through examples like these (among many others), you can ensure the new hire doesn’t feel forgotten, and they can start blending well with your company culture day by day.

When you introduce casual but informative team-building virtual meetings and onboarding activities, you make the onboarding pleasant, friendly, and welcoming. So, instead of formal, dull, or stressful ways to onboard, you can choose creative and informative ways to make the onboarding reflect the company values and culture and retain developers for longer.

That is precisely how I was welcomed in Proxify when I started. The examples above are the practices I have directly witnessed during my hiring and onboarding. With an empathetic attitude from senior leadership, a fun and warm introduction on my first day, quality equipment, and a “swag” company shirt, I started to set foot in the most culturally-rich work environment.

But, also, through the 1on1 and group weekly meetings, I have felt as welcome and valued as ever. Last but not least, and probably of vital importance here, I had the opportunity to connect to a highly-skilled and friendly team lead who unreservedly onboarded and guided me ideally early on.

Things like these will make your employees happy – before, during, and after the onboarding. It’s all about being valued, assisted, guided, and trusted.

3. Setting expectations and measuring success

A lot of factors play a role in determining how well a new remote team member fits in with your culture. After the resume reviews, the job ad stage, the interviews, hiring, and onboarding, there are still important aspects to consider and to successfully evaluate those individuals regarding adapting to your culture.

Those certain applicants have proven in all early hiring stages that they can fit splendidly well in your team, but in all truth, culture is most obviously noted once they start working. This means the overall rapport, team cohesion, blending in, and communication style, or even what type of attitude the remote tech team member manifests toward anything taking place at the company and team.

Ideally, the same cultural qualities that were evident at the very beginning, before the hiring took place, would be consistent after the hiring too. Below you can see certain simple but highly effective things you could consider to evaluate how well the team culture blending goes once the new developer enters the team upon hiring.

3.1 Starting with small and tightly defined tasks

Once the new developer starts working with you, this is the opportunity to test, or rather observe, their cultural traits and how everything goes at the beginning.

When you delegate tasks, you’ll immediately notice their behavior and how they respond to what’s delegated to them. You will notice if there is enthusiasm for taking on the tasks or not so much. You can see whether they are a team player by seeing if they’ll offer to help out a team member or would rather not bond with them. This initial period is still an opportunity to confirm that the new hire is the best fit for the job (both cultural and professional).

In this case, the new developers can also clearly ask questions about the tasks, regarding how to work on them better, improve their results, or similar. The more curious they are about the tasks or the clients they’ll be connecting with, the better – notice any genuine interest and diligence you can. These are the superb traits you need in a remote tech expert, and any remote worker, for that matter.

During the delegating process, you’ll notice how the new developer responds to the volume or complexity of tasks. Do they need to be the team's main star and steal the show? Or perhaps they are quite timid and quietly accept anything assigned their way, no matter what? Are they asking about coworking options and possibilities, or do they exclusively insist on solo work? Once they’re finished, do they sit idly or offer to start on new tasks? Everything you can observe regarding these aspects matters for team culture overall.

So, it’s relatively easy to notice the attitude around initial small tasks because that will most likely be your attitude throughout the whole work relationship shared with the team.

However, the tasks need to be as tightly defined as possible. Otherwise, you’ll risk confusing the team member and almost purposefully assigning them a complex challenge early on. Avoid confusing and ambiguous requirements, and be as clear as possible at the beginning.

Delegating tasks, even perfectly assembled and tightly defined, is not just about throwing something to the new employees and demanding it to be done ASAP. Delegating is a form of art of connecting with your distributed team and nurturing the cultural values you’re so passionate about.

Simple and useful ways to delegate initial small tasks better and preserve the team culture

  1. Offer a helping hand – don’t just (strictly) demand.

  2. Be humble – let the new hire feel proud of their accomplishments, no matter how small.

  3. Avoid ambiguous tasks – don’t make a situation more stressful than it is. Define tasks as clearly as possible, and give the new developer a chance to affirm and show their skills without the initial pressure of starting at a new workplace.

  4. Have respect for the employees – try not to devalue the newcomer by not trusting them enough or directly throwing them into the most complex scenarios. Give them the power to work on their own, on precise tasks, but simpler ones.

Another more clarifying approach to defining tasks and delegating them is to consider the 5 W’s + H approach:

  • Who is the person to lead the new team member during their first tasks? Who will co-work with them? Who will be their guide and lead?

  • What is the desired outcome? The outcome, and the tasks, must be as refined and precise as possible. Provide any helpful resources, links, databases, and similar.

  • When is the due date for finishing the tasks? Provide a relevant timeframe for finishing the tasks, according to the complexity of it all. And consider embedding 1on1s during this timeframe to follow the progress or assist and guide if necessary.

  • Where are all the useful resources, files, and databases? Where are all the useful company materials that the new tech employee should have access to?

  • Why is this delegated and needed? How does it contribute to the skill-affirming of the team member?

  • How will all the finished tasks be used? How do simple but defined tasks help the new team member progress to more complex tasks in the future?

This approach helps you, but even more so, the new team member. You can preserve culture by clarifying any new team member's uncertainties. It also helps them get on board much easier and without stress. It clarifies the goal of the tasks and the location of (re)sources and information. It lets the team members know you value their time and trust them and the team enough to delegate appropriately, clearly, concisely, and transparently.

Another good thing to remember is the possibility of co-working during small but defined tasks. For example, the new developer might be assigned to check for bugs in an app. Still, another team member might do another quality check for it, just in case something was missed out – and this also contributes to better teamwork, performance, bonding, and learning for better problem-solving in the future.

3.2 How to slowly make your remote hire feel like a full member of your team

After the successful recruitment, hiring, onboarding, and delegating of tasks, it’s time to focus more on embedding the culture of the new tech hire with your team’s culture. In other words, make them feel like they are already an equal, accepted, and cherished part of the team.

These are some tips and strategies to help you not just connect with your team better but, more importantly, embed their culture well within the team and treat them equally:

  • Give growth opportunities (from lighter to more complex tasks)

When you include the new hire into the team, it’s not just essential to delegate relevant and precisely defined tasks. Everything delegated needs to be relevant and meaningful as much as possible. If the new employee receives only simple and defined tasks for an ongoing period, they might start doubting whether they are relevant enough and trusted enough with more complex tasks.

Ensure to slowly and gradually increase the complexity of their work. This will give them a sense of belonging, and they’ll know they are assigned specific complex tasks for a reason – it means you trust them well enough to handle things better as they progress through the work dynamic.

  • Delegate them more responsibilities for individual work

At the beginning, you might encourage coworking or checking each other’s work within the team. This enables the new hire to learn the team dynamic and communicate better with everyone while they know (from possible mistakes or learn to prevent mistakes in the future).

However, after some time, as you assign more complex tasks and engagements, show them that you trust them enough to take responsibility and stand by their task results and outcomes. Allow them to provide their input and opinion about the tasks, ask what they think about the type of tasks they get, and what they would improve or suggest overall.

  • Schedule more frequent meetings and 1-on-1 sessions

By doing this, you encourage more team cohesion and bonding, and with this, better productivity in the long run. Never underestimate the value that friendliness and consistency in communication bring to productivity and culture.

The newcomers will feel fully accepted and respected with frequent meetings for updates and consultations. It means you’ll want and need to hear their opinions, and they, in turn, will trust and respect you enough because you both schedule time to value the opinions and feedback mutually.

In these sessions and meetings, you can encourage mentioning concerns or see where you can assist them to do a better job and avoid any setbacks.

  • Let them take the floor (let them be heard during meetings)

Similarly to the point above, let the new team member be heard, and assign everyone in the team the same amount of time for presenting their work, as well as any updates, or even casual watercooler topics that strengthen the team culture.

Don’t forget to include everyone on the team, even if the job role is slightly different than that team’s general role. For example, at Proxify, when we have a meeting between content writers and the team lead and team manager, we also include relevant coworkers responsible for the design and visuals of the written content. Both designers and writers can better work toward a goal and contribute to team culture and merging everyone, regardless of their start date or current progress at work.

Apply the same rule to developers and engineers. Organize meetings that include web designers, not solely the developers or anyone else. Think who is relevant and connected in some way to the specific job role at hand, and include them over time.

  • Be generous with sharing information

Whether you have something simple to say or a big update, regardless, include everyone in the team. Make everyone feel included, even if they don’t fully understand the context of the information shared.

For example, you may have organized a meeting with the web designers on the next steps in organizing the website sections at the front end. Let’s say you have a new developer employee who resolves bugs and writes code simultaneously. Now, even if the meeting topic is simply the frontend design of the website’s sections, the developer will respect hearing about this, even if it’s not their task assigned for that week/month.

Besides, you never know when context will appear and connect everyone in the team for a certain improvement through group effort or helpful suggestions between team members.

  • Recognize the good work

Whenever you notice outstanding work, recognize that, and celebrate this successful milestone with both the whole team, as well as the developer who managed this. Recognition will boost the team morale and take it to another level. This will motivate everyone in your tech team to learn and implement, improve anything ongoing, and even be inspired by someone else’s work.

Actions of this type will inspire employees to reach out to you or the team members for any questions and dilemmas or ask for guidance and affirmations of current progress. And truth be told, when good work is recognized, the new tech hire will not just feel accepted as an equal team member but will also feel respected as equally as those hired much earlier.

  • Provide constructive feedback

Don’t forget to give constructive feedback as much as possible and where applicable. If you need to recognize good work, do it through uplifting and positive feedback. If you need to give more serious feedback with room for improvement, make it constructive, not condescending or fear-inducing. Make the team members see where they can improve their work and provide more precise guidelines and comments.

The point is not to scare away the new team members but to show them the opportunity for learning and improvement in the future. And, through regular feedback, you’ll make the new hire feel valued enough to receive your honest and transparent opinion on their work. It means you took time to carefully check their work progress and share your valuable tips and opinions.

  • Organize leisurely and non-work online events and conferences

Don’t underestimate the power of small casual talks and how they instill acceptance, happiness, and bonding for new employees. This is a fantastic way to strengthen your team culture, an excellent way for the new tech employee to get used to the team dynamic and communication style, and to break the ice of group chat anxiety over time more efficiently.

3.3 How to measure if they fit your culture once they are hired?

In an ideal situation, the cultural fit you chose to hire would follow up with their culture and work consistency in parallel. They will back up everything they represent, which makes you believe they’re a great cultural fit.

However, it’s a good idea to occasionally check if that consistency goes well as initially expected during the hiring.

The questions below would help you refine and define the status of the new hire's culture fit and their cultural progress or stagnation. You’ll notice how these questions are not to be used directly toward the new tech member directly. Instead, they are more introspective, internal, and evaluating:

  • Are they facing challenges and tasks efficiently and unobstructedly? If not, what attitude do they exhibit toward challenges and setbacks?

A great culture fit will not oppose constructive criticism or justify any possible mistake they made. They will instead want to work on themselves and improve their work. They will ask for your feedback and implement improvements you might suggest to them. They will not doubt your relevance in delegating tasks or obligations and will discuss them with you to fully understand what you expect of them.

Are they upfront and honest when their work goes by slowly? Do they honestly admit to their liabilities or try to hide them?

  • Do they take constructive criticism well?

If someone is a good culture fit for your team, they will not be offended once you give them constructive criticism. Instead, they’ll focus on learning and not dismissing your suggestions or devaluing your leadership and guidance.

  • Do they communicate positively and productively with the rest of the team?

Is the new hire too secluded and introverted to the point of relying only on themselves and never on others? A good fit will find a way to get in touch with everyone on the team, and the company, at some point. Is their communication style with the team condescending or friendly and open to collaboration? Are they thankful when you point out something to them, or do they dismiss it immediately and not back down from their opinions?

  • Do they participate in group chats positively? Do they participate in the group chats at all?

Imagine someone celebrating a milestone in their personal life. Now, is the new hire part of the group congratulating? Are they polite and optimistic? Do they show they want to be a part of the collective? Are they making an effort to participate and communicate in general?

  • Do they exhibit enthusiasm for their work and the value they bring?

Try to notice if they are curious about their tasks if they want to know more about how to finish tasks as well as possible. Or perhaps they just start working without any curiosity and questions aforehand. Do they ask what the next tasks will be? Do they ask what the future work dynamic will be or what type of tasks they’ll be doing?

When someone is curious about what follows next in their job role, they are genuinely curious about the progress they’ll be making at your company. This means they know the value they bring and probably know they can make it better in the future too.

  • Are they punctual?

Are they respectful of you and the time of others during scheduled meetings or check-ins? Even with flexible working hours, do they try to make an effort and show up at certain times when everyone else is showing up? If they rely on flexible working hours, do they make up for their idle hours later during that day to finish their work? Are they always late for meetings? All of this shows how much respect an employee has for the punctuality of others.

  • Do they go the extra mile?

Notice if they are willing to take on extra workload to help coworkers. Notice if they are honest and transparent enough to notify you when they finish their tasks earlier. See how they respond to ad-hoc responsibilities that weren’t initially planned. Eagerness and camaraderie are amazing assets when being a part of a culture-rich team.

  • Do they update you on any progress or setback they face, or not at all?

Remote tech employees must communicate with you transparently at all times. Whether it’s to let you know about their progress, speed, and quality of their work or simply to update you on their challenges.

Even just breaking the ice with fun and casual talk once in a while (water cooler chats) means they’re great communicators and willing to blend in your culture. If they communicate like this with you, you know you can rely on them and their work ethic. This makes a great team member for preserving the overall team and company culture.

  • Do you find communicating and working with them easily and productive or hindering and challenging?

Are those employees constantly rebellious and have opinions? Do they own to their mistakes if they make them? Are they promising to improve their performance and working on it? Are you doubtful whether to address them for something because they might not take it well? How do you feel whenever you need to communicate with them? An employee with respect and care for their job, manager, or company, will engage in smooth and easy communication with you, always and without exceptions.

  • How are they perceived and evaluated by the rest of the team and the company? How do they perceive themselves?

After a certain amount of time, it would be preferable to evaluate new employees and ask relevant people what they think about them too. Does everyone find them easy to talk to and easy to work with? Do they exhibit values of good work ethic and team camaraderie? Are the remote employees polite but constructive with their feedback toward others in the team?

Can the distributed team member honestly evaluate themselves? Or are they perfectly describing their work ethic without a self-conscious approach to any possible faults? Can they transparently point out anything they need to improve about themselves? Honesty in evaluating oneself and others on the team (and vice versa) is a major trait for employees that get along with others well and will bring more value to your team and company.

Time off, bonuses & pay: How to unify culture and your remote hire’s expectations

Once the company and team culture values are set and defined, what needs to be done next is preserving that culture through various simple but effective strategies.

Think about equality foremost. Equal rules apply to everyone without exceptions. This also means equal respect and fair treatment, motivating remote teams to maintain strong bonds and good productivity.

To unify and preserve the culture in distributed teams, you need to consider all the aspects that cover everyone equally. This can be anything from transparent work policies and rules to perks and benefits and publicly recognizing successes.

Motivation is an ongoing process, and to keep everyone motivated and inspired, they need to know they are valued and treated equally above all else.

4.1 Deciding on rules that apply to all remote hires & reflect your company’s culture

To preserve the company and team culture, we mentioned how important it is for everyone to be included and treated fairly and equally at the company and team levels. This means that you’ll need to create and use a workplace policy with various helpful information and FAQ sections that are useful to everyone at the company.

These policies should include guidelines and information on sick days, time off and PTO, absence of leave for various reasons, holidays, salaries, bonuses, benefits, and perks, among other things.

A guideline of this type should be shared transparently with everyone in the remote, hybrid, and onsite work setting for unified information-sharing equality between all employees. And what’s inside should apply to everyone, regardless of whether they are remote or hybrid employees.

Let’s see some valuable and must-include aspects of these policies.

  • Who is it for?

State to who these policies apply, i.e., they should apply to everyone involved in the company, whether in remote, hybrid, or in-office onsite environments. Equality and culture in the workplace start by treating everyone equally, whether for benefits or repercussions.

Whether you have employees per-project or full-time agreements, you can have two separate policies created since part-time and per-task demands may differ.

For example, those that work full-time remotely will be expected to comply differently from those that are needed just occasionally on certain tasks once in a while. Or, in other words, you may have a remote worker that you engage with rarely, per an hourly rate, and at the same time, you have full-time remote employees that are needed to log in and work five days a week, eight hours per day.

Time off or sick days and similar may slightly differ in both groups. So, clearly state who the policy is for according to their work agreements in your company. However, certain things have to be universally agreed upon, such as respecting agreed deadlines, quality of work, or attending group all-hands meetings.

  • Location and premises

Even if the job role is for remote and hybrid workers, mention it clearly if the job is fully remote, hybrid, or onsite. Offering local premises for distributed global teams under your management is good.

For example, at Proxify, our leadership has asked the content writing team (in the same geographical area) whether or not we want an office space for possible onsite work. This way, what is available for onsite employees is also offered for remote ones, should they want the same working conditions at a team level.

  • Responsibilities and job expectations

For specific job roles, i.e., all job roles, describe the responsibilities and expectations. This can be formatted universally by stating the scope of work expected, the deadlines for it, the expected quality and who will be responsible for reviewing the work of the distributed team member, and so on.

This will also make it clear to the rest of the team and company what is expected of them in the long run. And this sort of transparency will put everyone at ease since everyone will know that the volume of work and respective complexities are equally divided and presented for all.

  • Availability and responsiveness

Here, you should state which communication channels are used at the company level, without exception. State how work-related discussions and information should be shared solely and exclusively on those channels and software and not outside on other apps (which employees might use for their communication).

Express how the work email and the appointed software are the main communication channels. Also, mention the agreed-upon working hours and expected availability (fixed or flexible).

Don’t forget to mention the must-attend meetings, whether group or 1-on-1s, and how you strongly encourage attendance on all – except when previously approved not to attend due to revised reasons or time off, respectively.

  • PTO and days off

When it comes to time off, state how many days off are assigned for vacations equally to anyone. Different countries may have different policies in this case. For example, in some countries, ten working days is the norm for vacation and time off, but try to make this as universal as possible for all employees.

The differences should apply to national or religious holidays of the distributed team member’s country. Some countries may celebrate more religious/national holidays than others, the only differences that should be considered. But on the other hand, universally shared holidays, such as New Year’s Eve, should be a day off for everyone or similar examples.

It’s best to consult the employees and their team leaders regarding specific days for PTO. When it comes to rest, such as sick days, maternity leave, or similar, state how early in advance should the team member ask for time off for these reasons, and don’t forget to mention what PTO is and what is unpaid temporary time off.

Last but not least, specify where and how a team member can ask for PTO, or where it is all displayed holidays and the rest. There should be one calendar location available and visible to everyone, where everyone can log in and see who has time off when it is someone’s holiday or where to “tag and insert” a request for time off. This is a fantastic example of transparency and equality in the treatment of employees at the company level.

  • Equipment

The same rules apply here, too, equal treatment above all else. If one or a few employees need to get some type of equipment (most often, this is a laptop and peripherals), it should be an option for everyone at the company.

Just clearly mention the fixed sum, or maximum sum for equipment purchasing, equal for everyone, to choose and receive equipment ordered for their needs. And mention the responsible individuals for handling these finances and actions to avoid any mixups and confusion on the employees’ end.

Remember also to mention what would happen with damage to equipment from improper handling or similar, how soon, upon onboarding, the team member will receive equipment, and whether or not the equipment should be immediately returned upon offboarding.

  • Compensations, incentives, and bonuses

While you don’t need to mention specific salaries previously agreed upon to everyone (and objectively accepted according to someone’s experience and skills), you should mention at what precise date everyone receives their monthly salary or compensation. Mention that the software for receiving it is the same for everyone and that everyone receives it through a reviewed agreement or invoice beforehand.

If you give away bonuses, do this universally for everyone, for example, New Year and winter holiday bonuses or some once-a-year type of incentive that applies to every employee involved at the company level.

The same applies to sending gifts or company swag, so if you send branded equipment or t-shirts and similar, ensure everyone gets them upon onboarding or on other occasions. This way, everyone feels equally noticed and included. And, apply the same rules to organizing work-related trips, where if organized at company-level, everyone should be invited, whether or not they’re able to come.

  • (Cyber)security

Specify how the employees will all have access to a shared Drive and how they will be appointed an email address previously created for them. Encourage creating and using company access to any upcoming folders and new files the employees will attach and have access to.

Work files and folders should also be available to senior leadership and other relevant employees, so mention transparent access above all else.

  • Data protection and confidentiality

The policy should clearly state the repercussions of breaking the privacy rules and the rules of confidentiality. Personal or company information related to the job should not be shared elsewhere but should be open access at company and department levels.

This will instill a good sense of work ethic in the employees so that they’ll cherish the valuable information for their work but will transparently share it when needed with others of the team and company.

No one should feel like they don’t know what their coworkers are regularly doing. Of course, this won’t perfectly apply to all departments. For example, strictly confidential financial information and invoices should be shared between accounting and finance departments, HR, and the CEO, but not with content writers or similar.

Or, if the developer has access to confidential databases of clients, they shouldn’t share these databases with anyone they think they should. There are relevant aspects to consider when allowing access to various kinds at a company level.

The whole point behind these equally shared and applied policies is not to promote favoritism or discrimination. Instead, it’s about giving equal rights and benefits to all, regardless of nationality, gender, or cultural background, equal treatment, and preserving work culture.

4.2 Why acknowledging your remote hire’s good work will result in tremendous success

One part of nurturing a good team, and company culture is keeping a good deed noticed. In other words, when your distributed team members excel at a particular task or meet specific goals, let it be known and make them proud.

Work recognition motivates employees to keep up the quality they showcase and try even better. They will feel appreciated for who they are and the value they bring, and they won’t be perceived as just technical skills behind a resume. If they bring value to your company, make their value shine and be known.

The key to a successful and appropriate celebration of good work consists of three key elements:

  1. Announce good news promptly – The tech team member will be immensely proud of their work if you recognize it on time. This means if something is really important for the company’s success and they (the employees) manage to meet all goals on time, it would be incredibly good to recognize their great work right when it happens.

This shows your employees that you care about them and their work enough to notice it on time and give this the value and respect it deserves.

  1. Specify the reasons and the names – Celebrate the good work of the whole team, but also try to give a specific shoutout to the team members that provided valuable input for the desired outcome. Clearly state what did amaze you the most from the results of that team member, and again, encourage everyone to be proud of their coworker’s input and the input of the team as a whole.

You can do this on the regular weekly 1on1s and group meetings too, but in any case, don’t let a good job go unnoticed.

  1. Make it transparent and visible – Why not share an important milestone or outcome on the business social media of the company? Encourage the team member to do the same, and if they like, on their profiles too. If you have a company website section for news and updates, and the team member did something quite notable and valuable, share it as news information on the website, and phrase it as a successfully achieved milestone for a specific goal.

And, remember, all of this doesn’t have to be an outcome of one person, but instead a whole team or department. Regardless, let it be known and celebrated. Give the team member(s) credit for it and affirm the value they bring.

There are various creative and fun ways to celebrate the success of your distributed team members and the team as a whole. From buying dinner through the business card to sending flowers and gift baskets, or perhaps even a virtual happy hour during a casual call along this – there is more to do for celebrating than just publicly stating it. If you’re creative and (hopefully) know your team members well, you will know how to make them feel appreciated and happier through a nice gesture.

4.3 How to inspire and engage remote hire that promotes your culture

Once the culture is defined and very well reflected in all work-related things, the progress shouldn’t stop there. A culture successfully thrives when constantly nurtured and preserved in the future.

To keep a great company and team culture for the time to come, you need to have happy, inspired, and motivated distributed teams, regardless of their geographical location and job roles. Keeping employees motivated and inspired directly contributes to team member retention, not just culture preservation in the long run.
You can try various ways to inspire employees, and it’s not as complex as it might sound initially. What you can do to keep the motivation and inspiration within the distributed tech teams is to consider the following:

  • Know your culture well to reflect it well

How could you reflect and work on keeping your cultural values if you are unsure what they are in the first place? Make sure to clearly define your culture before asking the employees to promote and follow it. When you are sure of what you’re proud of, your employees will follow the example and adopt the same values.

When they see that their leader is firmly standing by the company values of empathy, progress, and respect, they will be eager to strive on and continue the mission to return with the same values and respect back.

  • Set and guide with clear expectations

Always ensure clear expectations regarding job roles and responsibilities for each. If someone is expected too much, but the others with the same job role are not enough, this inequality will damage any team morale nurtured up to that point.

Know and specify exactly what each job role entitles so that responsibilities are set clearly and transparently. With clear expectations, team members can keep up with the motivation to do their job well in the future.

  • Nurture regular communication

Without regular communication, you won’t know if something is going well or if there are setbacks and challenges that your distributed tech team members face. Try to regularly use the communication software for any or all updates and notifications, both work and casual-related, within the team.

Regularly communicating with all remote employees will leave an impression of closeness and genuine interest in how the employees are doing. This will strengthen mutual trust. Not only that, but with solid trust, your employees will give their best to progress your company and themselves.

  • Promote collective striving toward a goal of togetherness

Be interested in your employees, but clearly and regularly affirm your overall values and culture with the rest of the company. Set the goals clearly and early on. Set responsibilities clearly and early on as well.

Encourage teamwork and team cohesion and bonding. Befriend everyone within healthy and normal boundaries because a strong, bonded team will always look unanimously in one direction – progress and inspired work.

  • Trust your team members to self-manage

As much as it’s good to include yourself in the team dynamic and workflow, try to leave some self-management space for the team members. When you let them take responsibility for their work, they’ll stand by the value they bring, they’ll perfect it, and will feel motivated to work better because they are trusted to do so.

  • Prioritize happiness and well-being

Working effectively is one thing, but being happy in the workplace is another. Still, they are connected closely because a happy worker is productive. Try to closely follow how well your remote employees get along within the team.

Do they face minor or severe obstacles in their workflow or communication? Can they freely address those issues or resolve them? Are they happy with the value they bring to the workplace, or it needs some improvement? Do you all communicate well and regularly?

Do they put their personal life and needs at last place and overburden themselves? Do you take an interest in their lives in general? Sometimes, personal healthy boundary bonding goes a long way to make employees feel respected, valued, noticed, and appreciated for the time to come. Show you care for them, not just for work-related reasons. Employees are human beings with complex lives, just like anyone else.

  • Celebrate the success of the team and its members

Whenever you see some progress, acknowledge it. Whenever your team or team member accomplishes a milestone, celebrate it. Publish the good news on professional social media accounts, and notify the company of the success of a certain department too.

By giving recognition and value to the value employees bring, they will feel appreciated. This is the best motivation for them to keep doing what they have been doing well all along.

  • Use incentives

Similarly to the points above, appreciation, recognition, and taking an interest in the employees’ lives (within healthy workplace boundaries) is an asset every successful CEO and manager should adopt and practice.

You can use incentives and gifts of appreciation for work and personal-related matters. Whether it’s a considerable engagement success at work, or a personal celebratory reason for the employee, sending a thoughtful gift lets them know they are valued as people first, then as employees simultaneously.

  • Take an interest in hearing what they think as well

Even with the best of efforts to work on team cohesion and team values, it’s a good idea to ask for feedback after specific periods of working. Be interested in what the remote employees say and feel, whether good or challenging.

When you’re interested in their feedback about the company, the team, and the overall workflow, you’ll have a clear idea of what to do next to improve and resolve their challenges or continue doing the good things that make your employees happy and fulfilled.

  • Offer growth opportunities

Regardless of whether remote employees want to progress fast or not, it’s your responsibility to offer chances for growth in the workplace.

  • Apply equal treatment to everyone

Whether it’s responsibilities and expectations, 1on1s and meetings, feedback sessions, or incentives – the same rules should apply to everyone, and a well-assembled work policy helps out in this.

  • Continue to motivate and inspire

Whatever you are doing well so far, keep on doing it. Consider the feedback you get, and keep on transferring and reflecting on all the solid foundation values as you did until now. Progress doesn’t stop, nor do values cease to exist if you invest genuine care in it, and your remote employees.

5. How Proxify matches clients and developers based on culture

Successful companies thrive on good communication and transparency with their clients. The overall success of a company based on expertise and values goes far beyond just these two words. Imagine a highly-successful company that prides itself on amazing clients and lasting business relationships. This same company also has outstanding and vetted developers that always do their job as perfectly as possible.

Can you imagine what connects all three aspects – company, developers, and clients? It’s the culture. Or rather, company and team values that are transparent and seen in the communication between all sides involved.

Without proper quality communication based on values, transparency, and respect, the company leadership couldn’t build its success as it is. This same company wouldn’t be able to nurture good work relationships with potential clients if the company departments did not nurture good cultural values in the first place.

This is why it’s essential to refer to real-life events and examples of companies that perfectly nurture their culture on all company levels, like Proxify – and make those values evident for future clients too.

5.1 Our screening process

Proxify is an excellent example of how well we blend culture within the screening process for maximized efficiency of the whole hiring from start to finish and transparency in evaluating developers’ skills.

Out of all who want to be Proxifiers, just the top best 2% start working with us and are accepted upon the screening. This statistic ensures that we promise and deliver quality without inadequately assessed developers, but the contrary. Still, technical skills and knowledge aren’t the only thing we assess in detail and in-depth. We focus on the culture fit aspects just as equally. Sandra Zafirova, recruitment lead at Proxify, said:

There can be numerous signs that someone is a great cultural fit for the tech team. Still, the practice has shown that there are three essential skills that demonstrate those values such as the ability to understand, learn & grasp complex processes on software development principles, to be curious about learning new things or technologies, and to be willing to share that knowledge in a team with empathy, team collaboration, and humbleness.

author Sandra Zafirova

She also adds that signs that someone is an excellent fit for Proxify culture is a person that knows his/her self-worth on the market but chooses to leave the ego at home, a person that enjoys remote work and resonates with the digital nomad life, a customer-centric person, with a sense of humor.

We do it by focusing on learning traits and curiosity, as well as collaboration and team skills too, Sandra Zafirova explains:

We do this by asking specific questions that would give us a good manifestation or hint about the candidate’s traits. We use a scorecard where we note down the answers from the candidate. Questions on team collaboration, agile methodology, learning objectives, coaching or managerial examples, and hobbies & interests usually provide us with enough reasons to decide whether we should move forward with a particular candidate.

The whole goal behind it all is to match you with a perfectly skilled developer but also match them perfectly well with your team and company culture. Our values must be reflected and noticed in the developers we assess because they represent us and our culture just as much as we represent them. The importance of team values means they must be mutually shared with everyone in the team and the company.

We value our clients' time and take as many as a few days to find the best match for you. First and foremost, this bodes excellently for our trustworthiness and reliability because time is the most valuable currency in all aspects. By carefully listening to your exact business needs, we provide the best matching results about the experience and cultural fit.

It’s virtually impossible to vet the developers solely based on their technical knowledge, and it’s vital to us that they’ll also be a major asset to your team. Our developers are always goal-oriented, focused on delivering outstanding work results, collaborative, and understand your cultural values perfectly.

All cultural values that we have and follow must be the same ones our developers stand by. Just as we want collaborative, optimistic, and above all, problem-solving and goal-oriented developers, we are sure you want the same for your team culture as well. Vetting for skills and culture must be a unified and personalized process, perfected through quality communication and shared cultural values.

We don’t just look for outstanding skills and expertise but also amazing characteristics, such as a good attitude and professionalism to begin with.

Emilia Ramé, a talent acquisitions specialist at Proxify, confirms how the attitude and overall etiquette tell a lot about a potential new developer team member, whether they’d be a cultural fit:

I always see how well prepared they are for the interview, and if they use good quality equipment, in a tidy environment too. Those curious about our company always have the advantages, because they researched enough aforehand. I see if they are positive, good listeners, engaging in the conversation appropriately, and eager to learn and grow. Also, they should ideally want to be included in the latest technologies and engagements of Proxify and enjoy a good work-life balance too.

author Emilia Ramé

5.2 Community engagement & management

Your employees will be the window through which clients see your culture. And the best way to promote, preserve and engage your cultural values is with the help of community management and engagement.

Think of the community management employees as the main messengers of company values internally. And, it’s not hard to spot the best ones too – what they publish and how they spread the word of the company is and must always be informative, approachable, friendly, progress and growth-oriented.

They are the brand ambassadors, and if they hit the spot with all the right values and words for them, that is a fruitful connection between the company and potential clients right there.

The lead engagement manager at Proxify, Manuel Di Gregorio, explained the importance of community management in defining, preserving, and promoting outstanding company culture. Even more so, he explains how the relationship with the community is among the most prominent factors for the culture, or how culture is perceived:

Company values are often created top-down by management. Based on my experience, this approach does not make the values expressed as inclusive or easy to embrace and make someone feel involved as they should be.

Manuel Di Gregorio

Company values created from a bottom-up structure, considering all levels of employees and what they care about, can resonate the most among the whole company structure and hierarchy, he adds.

One thing that helps a company maintain its culture is the ability to observe and acknowledge over time its workforce and the constantly changing needs, as well as the management approvals and cultural & inclusivity satisfaction rates.

Di Grigorio explains that when managing any community, one value that always resonates with his work is “being one team.”

Community management can’t be a stand-alone engagement. It needs the participation and effort shared by other departments. Community feedback (our most precious ROI) is a valuable resource for many different areas, from marketing to product improvement. It helps the company improve the business so that people who use our services would enjoy them fully.

He further explains that as part of the communication and relationship-creation process with our community, employee engagement and management teams always approach any feedback, initiative, and person with a can-do attitude. Everyone can share an idea, suggestion, or feedback based on personal experience.

We care and support the expression of these opinions. Such opinions help us focus on how to work together to shape a better product and find out what initiative could be best enforced for enhancing the feeling of being part of a big developer community.

5.3 Client care

This is not just being available and accessible support for any challenges or setbacks – it’s also genuine care about the satisfaction level of the clients receiving the company’s services.

Client care departments are brand ambassadors, just as important as every team member in the company. The way they communicate with the clients and the way they truly care if all developers work efficiently for clients.

Successful business relationships are always built on solid foundations of trust and delivery of promises through outstanding outcome quality. You always need a client care sector invested in regularly checking with the clients, affirming what has room for improvement, and resolving clients’ issues and worries. This means if your client care employees share the same company values you promote, they won’t have a problem expressing those values of professionalism and empathy toward clients.

Imagine you already have taken care of all cultural values. You reflect them in all hiring stages and the overall workflow dynamics. Now also, imagine you have clients for which you matched the perfect developers for their needs, yet, the client care aspect is of subpar quality. Fast forward, and let’s say the client has some general concerns, whether about the developer or the workflow. Without the clients being able to address an accessible and friendly client care team, all of the solid cultural values you have built so far might start fading at this point.

Try to keep clients satisfied with the developers’ work, but even more so with how they are treated and taken care of by the rest of your company. They need to know that the client care you offer can take great care of their questions and issues, updating them and empathizing with them.

For example, our client care team unreservedly puts maximum effort into caring for the clients' time over time. They are always available and happy to help, from providing basics and all information regarding the hiring process stages to explaining how interviews and testing are conducted. They provide in-depth information about the duration of each testing stage and how everything is evaluated. Not only that, but everyone on the client care team exhibits the same values and excellent soft skills that make someone a culture fit and brand ambassador at their finest.

5.4 Practical help we can offer to define team culture

It’s important always to convey and present the values you like to hear and see in those you interview. Again, Emilia Ramé stated the importance of being a genuine, transparent brand ambassador throughout the process of recruiting and beyond:

“I present myself the same as I’d like to see someone present themselves to me during an interview. A tidy environment, good quality equipment for the call, and a very professional but friendly attitude – nodding, smiling, not interrupting, and casually using ice-breaking small talk before the interview. I also ask them if they genuinely have any doubts or concerns about the job role, and in the meantime, I mention some of our largest engagements to them. They also hear about the benefits of entering Proxify’s network and choosing their tasks and engagements. Lastly, I mention the coaching opportunities, career path choices, and Slack, where they can connect.”

This only shows the importance of treating interviewees with the same respect and presentability you want back. This also includes sharing valuable information and good growth opportunities, along with everything else from the basics during the interview.

We can offer you several tips regarding team culture-defining to help you promote the values better and sustain the retention of developers in a distributed tech team. The retention will boost not just the morale but the successful relationships with clients in the future. A few helpful things to keep in mind when (re)defining your culture and values:

  • Specify your own culture and branding solidly before promoting it;
  • Focus on the sense of belonging;
  • Be clear and concise with setting objectives, expectations, and responsibilities;
  • Keep on learning and growing.

Another important and valuable advice is to be as in-depth as possible with an assessment of developers and evaluating new potential team members.

This means:

  • Having a perfected hiring and retention strategy
  • Having a perfected system of how your recruitment team and you can focus on all essential aspects of recruiting, hiring, and assessment
  • Focusing on soft skills of developers
  • Nurturing loyalty toward clients, not double-jobbing or similar
  • Being time-efficient for the whole hiring process, instead of wasting time and money of potential clients
  • Looking for a progressive, non-idle mindset as a cultural trait of developers
  • Having and relying on client care teams to nurture the relationships with the clients and promote your culture values
  • Ensuring that your company culture reflects through your distributed tech teams

Remember, when it comes to defining team culture, a few keywords to keep in mind always do the trick – shared values, goals, and mutual understanding, good attitude, and working methods and cohesion shared between everyone in the team.

Finishing remarks

The outsourcing journey has its merits and downsides, but when it comes to culture in the workplace, distributed team culture doesn’t have to be primarily downsides. As can see, company culture comes from within. It is the cohesive catalyst, the bond between the CEO, management, and everyone involved in a hybrid or distributed team.

Company culture must be clearly defined before team members start seeing and promoting it. It takes time, trustworthiness, loyalty, and respectful behavior – seeing toward a mutually-shared goal for growth. You cannot just think of it in abstract terms or simple definitions since it’s not just black and white.

However, you can always start discovering, defining, improving, or promoting a good company and team culture.

Think of your distributed and hybrid team members are more than just technical skills and professional backgrounds. Treating everyone equally, transparently, and respectfully will get you and your team progressively far.

Hopefully, this Insight you have read proves to help define team culture and everything it encompasses. Boost the morale and confidence of your tech team through empathy, fair treatment of all, and a human-centric approach.

Remember, genuine caring for your team members is the sole basis of team culture-defining. Your culture is your brand and what is said about your company – strive to make it positive, welcoming, progressive, and trustworthy above all else.

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