Recruitment & HRHiring

Few people would argue with the assertion that great businesses usually have a great culture behind them.

Yet once the dust settled upon the remote working revolution, many businesses were left with siloed teams and workers. With the pressure of a global pandemic weighing heavily, culture was often not treated as a priority in the short term.

“COVID has highlighted all the things we take for granted. But having a great work culture can help individuals and teams weather these challenging times and even reinforce working relationships for the better,” says Mona Akiki, chief people officer at Perkbox (below).

“Maintaining and nurturing a great company work culture is challenging in the new working world, where flexible and hybrid work practices are set to shape the future of work post-pandemic.”

Mona Akiki, Perkbox

Perkbox is an employee benefits platform which helps companies care for, connect with and celebrate their employees. “We need to do all we can to ensure people feel seen and connected within the business,” explains Akiki. 

“Aside from using digital platforms to manage work streams, it’s important that the technology is used for pleasurable pursuits too: one creative agency maintained a sense of connectedness [during COVID via] Zoom lunches where employees get to chat about anything but work – and eat food from Deliveroo, paid for by the company.”

Clear communication

Virraj Jatania (below), CEO and founder at mobile-first FinTech Pockit, says clear, consistent and compassionate communication with colleagues is the single most important ingredient for building – and sustaining – a company culture during remote working. 

Virraj Jatania, Pockit

“Constant group video calls can feel jarring at times, so senior leaders should pick up the phone to employees for ad hoc check-ins, while making themselves available to all members of the team,” he adds. “This creates a more understanding, intimate and open working culture – and, crucially, helps new joiners settle in.”

Jess Thurston (below), marketing executive at specialist tech recruitment agency Maxwell Bond, says people’s expectations of the workplace have changed. 

Jess Thurston, Maxwell Bond (1)

“Leaders must adapt if they are hoping to engage, attract and hire – as well as retain – top talent and stay sustainable and profitable,” says Thurston. “The move to mandatory remote working in 2020 was the key disruptor for nearly every business I’ve spoken to, including our own. 

“For us, going from a culture that was rooted in collaboration, engagement and face-to-face engagement was a big learning curve, but like other businesses we quickly adapted. 

“Zoom and Microsoft Teams became essential to our communication and making sure we could continue to work. However, communicating solely over digital software made it difficult to monitor people’s engagement and wellbeing. 

“In an office, it’s easy to identify when somebody is acting out of character, or when they aren’t participating in team chats or meetings. Online this is much more difficult, and it becomes easier for people to feel isolated. 

“With remote working and flexible working a trend that’s likely to stay, it’s important that leaders take all this into account and be more aware of their team.”

‘Pandemic opened our eyes to the power of tech’

Duty of care

Perkbox’s Akiki agrees. “The employer’s duty of care to adequately attend to the wellbeing of their staff has become even more apparent,” she says. “With work and private life colliding, digital boundaries also need to be drawn; revisit those internal communication guidelines and reinforce digital boundaries.

“In our own organisation, as daylight becomes a scarce resource, we’re encouraging managers to allow for extended lunch breaks or later starts so that employees can go outside for a walk, a run, or even just sit outdoors with a coffee. 

“These tactics might not work for every organisation. But these are examples of how small changes can be implemented immediately to address an urgent issue, benefiting work culture and employee wellbeing without any cost to the business.”

Laura Williams, head of HR at unified communications and IT service provider Elite Group, also says communication is key to building a high-performance remote-working culture. “Employee engagement and ensuring understanding of the company’s vision and the role they play in achieving it is paramount,” she says. 

“Deploying effective HR wellbeing policies and utilising collaborative technology is essential for staff updates, one-to-ones and fun activities, maintaining team spirit and morale.”

Don’t micromanage

When it comes to reporting in, Rachel McElroy (below), marketing director at Cloud Gateway, urges businesses to avoid micromanaging staff if they wish to develop a positive culture.

Rachel McElroy, Cloud Gateway

“Every good company culture is based on trust, respect and integrity,” she says. “There is no room for micromanagement – especially in a hybrid infrastructure with a lack of a physical presence. 

“Leaders should empower teams to be accountable, provide feedback and be solutions-focused if they’re to get the best out of people.”

Rewards are also important, Pockit founder Jatania has found. “Companies must prevent work from becoming a transactional affair and look for creative ways to motivate staff,” he says. 

“This could be by sending surprise ‘thank you’ gifts directly to colleagues, praising good work in open forums or by introducing monthly awards. 

“These small initiatives can go a long way – binding teams together and strengthening company culture.”

Delivering a memorable presentation


Talent Point helps companies to build effective teams from inside their organisation. Dan Wells, director of people and operations, recommends creating authentic company values.

“Communicate your culture through your values: reward and recognise team members based around those values,” he says. “Authentic touchpoints like a weekly social or wrap-up [are useful for this]. 

“Ensure staff understand the benefits of these touchpoints. Communication is key! You must also measure engagement frequently by using the right communication tools and training your managers to ensure they look after their remote staff effectively.”