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Building virtual office culture: Guide to shaping a unique remote work environment

By Varun Bodhi | |8 minute read
Building Virtual Office Culture Guide To Shaping A Unique Remote Work Environment

What happens to team culture when the water cooler chats, team lunches, and sharing weekend plans become short messages over Microsoft Teams?

Remote work has undoubtedly shaken up the paradigm of colleague relationships; for most people, it’s taken a turn for the worse. Isolation, video conference fatigue, and communication issues have drastically reduced workplace satisfaction.

And now that many businesses opt for a virtual office to enhance their remote operations, we know that telecommuting is here to stay. This guide will delve into some top tips on developing a healthy remove work environment and kindling culture through digital means.


Communication is key

Time and time again, we hear this phrase, “communication is key”.

While it’s certainly a cliché, the message has stuck around because it holds true. Similar to a long-distance relationship, those working remotely must also develop crystal clear and effective communication.

And there are many factors that determine effective communication on an individual level.

  • How close or familiar are you with the person you’re communicating with?
  • Are they of the same age generation?
  • Are they in a senior position in the company?
  • What day of the week is it? (People tend to be happier on a Friday)

The method of communication requires more thought in a remote setting since messages can get lost in interpretation or, worse, completely misunderstood. What was intended as a joke might be read as an insult by the receiver – it’s all about choosing the right words and relaying them to the right person at the right time.

It’s no longer the same

People are also navigating workplace age diversity in a remote setting for the first time. Some companies have five generations under one roof, and this is where workplace culture is truly tested.

The younger generation is accustomed to using abbreviations and jargon adopted through social media circulation. Meanwhile, older people have no inkling of the many terms the newer generation uses in daily conversations.

Encouraging an environment where people learn each other’s lingo is great for communication and creates a link where a generation gap can connect with each other. It can be as simple as “word of the week”, where each employee introduces the rest to a term they commonly use.

A fun yet effective method.

Contribution matters

It isn’t easy to maintain team engagement when working remotely with a virtual office, but it’s not impossible.

Think of a brainstorming session in a meeting room. The physical presence itself demands everyone’s attention and contribution toward the topic. But the conditions are different in a virtual meeting.

Many companies encourage turning on the camera, but it takes more to drive engagement.

Luckily, there are some solutions:

Interactive platforms: Not every meeting has to be about our face and the shirt or dress we’re wearing; this becomes stale quickly. Instead, collaborative tools and interactive platforms with real-time contributions are powerful methods for engagement.

People are more confident and likely to voice their ideas when the option of visual representation is available. There are many free or subscription-based tools that suit specific industries, and these are worthy investments for improving the remote work environment.

Structured agendas: Video meetings are exhausting and often distracting; let’s not forget the Zoom fatigue phenomenon.
And remember how we said communication is key?

Clearly defining meeting agendas and objectives in advance will allow team members to come prepared, encouraging thoughtful contributions. Businesses should also take the time for informal and friendly video catch-ups at the end of the week:

  • Asking about everyone’s plans for the weekend.
  • Celebrating individual success.
  • Chatting with newer team members.
  • Icebreaker activities.
  • Expressing gratitude.

Having a mix of topics like the above is a pleasant way to wrap up the week and create a better virtual office culture.

Trust and expectations

Trust has been wavering in remote conditions. Is my team really working? Are they fulfilling their potential?

And that’s just from the employer’s side. Then there are the employees, where the trust in sharing a personal secret or complication at work is in question; after all, it’s challenging to develop trust over text.

Trust and expectations are intertwined, so both can be built in unison. Many companies implement transparent work practices by using remote team collaboration tools. This involves providing simple updates on project status, informing your team of any difficulties, and outlining the work completed.

But the impetus is leadership. Employees can’t be expected to follow a process when the leader isn’t practising what they preach. Expectations need to be set by the team leader, and they must be transparent.

People appreciate honesty and when told what is expected of them, because no one wants an unpleasant surprise. Trust is also more likely to build when honesty is engrained in work culture.

Don’t leave any miscommunications on the sideline or potential complications sitting. Make a phone call and politely discuss it. A discussion where a person’s voice can be heard will create more trust than digitised letters.

And lastly, leaders need to understand the difference between feedback and criticism.

Criticism mostly focuses on the problem without providing practical solutions, while feedback recognises the problem and suggests ideas for moving forward. It’s challenging to interpret the tone of managerial commentary over email, hence making feedback a safer method for building a positive virtual office culture.

Remember to openly celebrate your wins and success, but be humble and admit your mistakes. That’s the secret to developing a productive work environment and team culture where people support each other at all stages.

Varun Bodhi is the editorial manager at ServCorp.



Your organization's culture determines its personality and character. The combination of your formal and informal procedures, attitudes, and beliefs results in the experience that both your workers and consumers have. Company culture is fundamentally the way things are done at work.

Hybrid working

In a hybrid work environment, individuals are allowed to work from a different location occasionally but are still required to come into the office at least once a week. With the phrase "hybrid workplace," which denotes an office that may accommodate interactions between in-person and remote workers, "hybrid work" can also refer to a physical location.

Remote working

Professionals can use remote work as a working method to do business away from a regular office setting. It is predicated on the idea that work need not be carried out in a certain location to be successful.

Jack Campbell

Jack Campbell

Jack is the editor at HR Leader.