In the past few years, remote work has become ubiquitous. Organizations have tested different ways to keep teams connected and empowered with tools and processes to do their best work.

But it hasn’t always been easy for employees. A typical day of remote work might include wading a flood of messages across channels, training a new hire, providing feedback on a project, and scheduling time for deep work in the midst of meeting marathons and at-home priorities.

It can be hard to stay engaged and productive in a disconnected world. So the big question is, how do you set your employees up for success in a remote and distributed world

We talked with Vimeo’s Chief People Officer, Crystal Boysen, to get her perspective on how Vimeo approaches remote work today. If you’re just starting your enterprise-scale remote journey, we have a quick primer on remote work along with recommendations on how to foster an inclusive and collaborative environment with video.

What is remote work?

A remote-first workplace allows employees to carry out their roles from outside a company office. Remote companies might ask some employees to come into the office (depending on their role), but allow flexibility for others.

Before 2020, remote work was often limited to freelancers, small business owners, or the rare digital nomad. However, that has changed in the past few years with over 45% of full-time employees in the United States working from home at least part of the time in 2021 according to Gallup research. And now that offices are re-opening, those same employees don’t want to go back: according to a Gallup poll, 9 in 10 remote workers want to remain at least partially remote going forward.

Vimeo operated remotely for over two years, and now, as organizations reopen our offices, Vimeo will be embracing a hybrid model. Certain staff (such as office facilities managers, receptionists, and IT support) come into the office full-time, whereas others will remain 100% remote. Close to half of our staff plan to take on hybrid or flex roles, where they can come into the office as often as they’d like, but there aren’t any dedicated days they need to come in. They simply get the flexibility to work the way that they work best.

Of course, since Vimeo’s team has both remote and hybrid employees, our workspace still remains 100% remote-first.

How to build a remote work culture

1. Audit your existing work processes

The first step to build a remote work culture is to take a good, hard look at your current systems and processes. Ask yourself:

  • What do your company’s decision-making structures look like? 
  • How are teams held accountable to goals? 
  • How are individuals celebrated? 
  • How do you keep information flowing across the entire company? 
  • Where can employees go to find the details that they need?

In many ways, making a sudden shift to remote working can expose deficiencies in your organizational processes. Fortunately, once you’ve explored how every system in your company operates, you can identify gaps to work on.

For example, your organization might find that going remote helps teams build better organizational documentation and using consistent decision-making processes.

2. Set up rules of engagement

Great cultures don’t happen accidentally, so make sure to take the time to outline and communicate what you want your remote work culture to look like. At Vimeo, we really prize flexibility and inclusion, so we’ve set up rules of engagement that reflect that.

In terms of flexibility, Boysen says, Vimeo created both hybrid and remote roles that let employees work the way that they do best. In surveys, employees said they enjoy things like extra time in the morning to spend with family or getting children ready for school. Being able to skip their daily commute increased their mental health. And since it’s important at Vimeo that employees feel good as human beings, not just employees, that flexibility became really important to our remote work culture.

Inclusion is also built into our rules of engagement. In a hybrid environment, it can be easy for remote workers to feel like second-class citizens, so setting rules that make sure everyone feels valued and included is important.

For instance, if there’s a meeting of any type, all in-office employees should consider joining a video call on their laptops, from separate rooms. This helps ensure that remote employees don’t feel left out of group conversations.

Because remote work can so easily bleed into people’s home lives, it’s also helpful to set rules that help employees create boundaries around work. That might mean company-wide, meeting-free afternoons to combat Zoom fatigue and let people focus on their work. Employees can also set their calendars so that all meetings end 10 minutes before the hour, so that no one gets stuck in back-to-back meetings.

3. Invest in tools that support remote collaboration

To work well from a distance, employees need to be able to collaborate with one another just as easily from home as they do in the office. That requires specialized tools that promote intentional communication.

For easy communication day-to-day, Vimeo uses Vimeo Record to record videos and screengrabs for coworkers and clients, and we store and organize all of our videos (including town halls, employee trainings, and team meetings) in our video library. This allows teams to better communicate asynchronously to keep everyone up-to-date. 

For other collaboration across teams, Vimeo uses a chat app (Slack) and a video call provider (Zoom). We use an online whiteboard app, Miro, that allows teams to brainstorm and collaborate on projects asynchronously. We’ve also invested in a platform that allows us to share our goals, objectives, and key results. That way, we can all align on our priorities and make sure we’re working towards the same goals.

4. Increase your focus on communication

So much communication happens throughout the workday in an office, and it’s really important not to lose that when you go remote. It might not be very sexy or cool, but upping your asynchronous communication and documentation game is essential when building a remote culture.

When Vimeo first went remote, it was important to increase the frequency of our communication in order to avoid falling into siloes, so we started running our virtual all-hands meetings — which we call “State of the Vimeo” — more often. This helped ensure that everyone was consistently on the same page. We also made sure to keep the content engaging and interactive by using our live streaming feature and allowing employees to respond with emojis, cheers, and questions and comments throughout the meetings.

Of course, on the other side of communication is documentation: we also realized we needed to become really good at documenting everything, from our meeting minutes to project updates to decisions made. So we overhauled our intranet site and made it easy for everyone to find and access the information they needed.

As an example, Vimeo brought on the first internal communications hire during COVID-19. With teams far more dispersed than they’d been before, it’s important to have dedicated resources to ensure information flows freely between departments and over 1,000 employees.

5. Train leaders to manage teams remotely

What we’ve learned is that managing remotely requires different skills than managing teams in-person. When we first moved to a remote work culture, some of our managers struggled with the transition, and we realized we needed to do more to support them.

To help leaders become better remote managers, start by thinking through what you want your remote environment to look like, and then provide support for people managers to reach that level of success. For us, that meant providing training and building out a hybrid work playbook for your team leaders and managers.

A playbook can touch on all aspects of managing a team remotely — including how to set a good example of setting communication boundaries, how to run effective meetings remotely, and what proper email etiquette looks like.

The go-to-guide for virtual trainings

Give your people leaders and managers the tools to train their teams around the globe with video.

6. Prioritize connection and collaboration

When Vimeo polled their employees after moving to a remote work culture, the number one thing that they said they missed was a sense of connection to their colleagues. The personal connection and community that you can foster fairly organically at the office requires much more intentionality when everyone is remote.

For Vimeo, that meant finding ways to proactively bring folks together. There were lots of ideas on fostering new ways to spark connection remotely, including:

  • Launching a #CoffeeDate channel in our Slack, which pairs coworkers once a month for 30-minute, virtual coffee dates. 
  • Creating a #ShoutOut channel in Slack where employees can give kudos to anyone in the organization.
  • Giving teams budgets for online team-building activities, such as trivia nights or art classes.
  • Having new hires create short videos introducing themselves that are then shared out to the entire organization.

Create an engaged, inclusive, and flexible remote culture

If you’ve traditionally operated as an in-office work culture, it can be challenging to shift to a remote-first work model. However, with intentionality and dedication, you can build an environment that supports all of your employees — no matter where they log in.

Discover how to improve employee communications for your remote team