How to create a sense of community among remote employees

The world is still adjusting to the idea of remote work.

Many believe it involves sipping margaritas on a beach somewhere (we wish). Others have highlighted that on a micro-level, it makes people more productive, organised, and well, happy. Sounds promising for remote employees.

Then there are the macro-level arguments — it reduces the number of people commuting (imagine the CO2 emissions saved with half of the US workforce staying at home!) and it even prevents brain-drain; all of those highly-educated people abandoning home and flocking to tech hubs where their skills are in demand.

But there’s a dark side to the remote work dream — beyond the endless references to wearing pyjamas during the day. Remote employees have to be self-motivated and trustworthy, and their managers must be masters of communication (tools). It can be isolating. And it seems that employers around the world are waiting with bated breath to see how these long-distance working relationships will evolve.

So what’s our grand remote work plan?

Our guiding management philosophy is: ‘Hire smart people and get out of their way.

David Fullerton, VP of Engineering, Stack Overflow

David hits the nail on the head with this one. We’re also lucky enough to work with 354 talented freelance developers, designers and project managers. Every one of them undertook rigorous testing before entering the community so that we can comfortably vouch for their expertise. So, we decided to tackle the bigger questions.

How do we create a sense of community when our employees are separated by thousands of miles?

Common solutions:

  1. Slack chats: We’re a big fan and constantly learn new stuff from our active community chats.

  2. Video calls: Or for the shyer among us, a good old phone call.

  3. Interoffice visits: A nice idea if you have multiple offices (or an office at all).

  4. Company retreats: We have an unlimited vacation policy and while we appreciate group holidays, we decided it’s better to let people do their own thing. Does anyone really enjoy team-building exercises?!

  5. Virtual holiday celebrations: Connecting your whole team via video conference to celebrate a holiday? Could be fun, could be awkward. Leaves most of us wondering how it works with more than 5 people…

Despite the appeal of sipping eggnog from the comfort of your own home, we needed to improve the frequency and accessibility of real-life collaboration.

So, we decided to give everyone unlimited access to coworking spaces.

In true CC style, we built a coworking app. 59109895cd9282.55989627

Members can instantly login to any space for the day — and we foot the bill! Sounds expensive, right? Well, considering that we don’t have to house everyone in our 100m2 Berlin office, it’s logical (and somewhat our responsibility) to provide working space elsewhere. And while we don’t believe a developer has to be onsite to be effective, we do believe in enabling knowledge-sharing and personal interaction within the community.

Unlimited access to coworking spaces should be a standard offering for remote employees around the world

Marc Clemens, Founder & CEO, CodeControl

What’s the next step in building a sense of community? Well, we’re looking to host community meetups at every coworking space we’ve partnered with. Maybe we’ll even take a coworking Kantoor Karavaan along for the ride 🚌

Ella Cullen

Über den Autor

Ella Cullen hails from New Zealand, and is our Head of Marketing. She’s fascinated by minimalistic design, sleek branding, and the freedom of remote work.