Question: How does a company with remote workforce develop a unique culture?

We are an IT consulting firm. About 50 employees (and averaging the same number of independent contractors working with us on project basis.)

We are very decentralized. Though the admin staff is based in Hawaii, the consultants are based throughout the country and they usually work on client sites in small groups.

How does a company like ours develop a unique culture?

2 Expert Insights

Now this is an interesting question and the answer is not easy.  I'd like to work with you on that.

If you want to develop a unique culture then you have to do that together (and Telepresence won't be enough) and you have to do it early - it may already be too late - the longer you leave it the more difficult it will become.

One of the questions to ask yourselves is why would you want to develop a unique culture ...

I predict with an administrative staff based in Hawaii, you already have a unique culture – I hope with a spirit of aloha. (That would certainly make you unique.) Every company has a unique culture. Culture happens whether companies want it to or not. Building & sustaining a specific desired culture is a complex process & develops over time.

Having vision & values statements hanging on the wall is a start, but by itself, makes little difference. Culture is a complex outcome from your reward process (who gets rewarded & promoted & why,) the things you celebrate, the stories you tell, what gets paid attention to,  the kind of personalities you hire, the behaviors of the senior staff, etc., etc., etc.

I would start with defining what you want it to be, assess where you are, and then look at all your human resource processes to see how they could be shaped to encourage the desired culture & avoid the opposite of that. If you say you want an aloha culture for example, and you promote a demanding jerk, nobody will believe what you say. It’s what you do that counts.