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The impact of remote work on company culture: HR’s response

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According to an article published by Forbes Advisor, 98 percent of employees prefer to work remotely at least part of the time. In addition, one in three workers have adapted to a remote hybrid model, while one in eight are in fully remote roles. The shift toward remote work, while introducing new dynamics in the workplace, brings with it flexibility and potential for increased productivity alongside unique opportunities for enhancing employee engagement with company culture.

In this article, we will explore the effects of remote work on company culture and how HR professionals can implement strategies designed to mitigate its negative impacts and foster a thriving virtual work environment.

Four Primary Remote Work Challenges

While a remote work model may reshape the fabric of a company’s culture, it also presents opportunities for growth and innovation. Here’s how companies can turn these challenges into strengths:

  • Fragmented Connections: In a traditional office setting, employees may have spontaneous, in-person interactions, thereby building relationships and a sense of belonging within the organization. While remote work might seem to limit these spontaneous interactions, it actually opens up new avenues for connection. Virtual coffee breaks, online team-building exercises and digital collaboration platforms can help to maintain and deepen the bond between employees and the company, fostering a sense of belonging and community that transcends physical boundaries.
  • Communication Barriers: Though the absence of face-to-face communication can introduce new challenges, such as time zone differences, digital tools can offer innovative solutions. Regular video meetings, structured digital check-ins and the use of collaborative software can enhance clarity, create team alignment and maintain the nuanced exchange of ideas, preserving the essence of effective teamwork.
  • Diminished Social Interaction: The shift to remote work transforms how social interactions occur, but it doesn’t diminish their importance. Virtual social events, themed video calls and shared online activities can replicate the camaraderie of in-person gatherings, helping employees feel integrated and valued within the team and the organization.
  • Work-Life Imbalance: Remote work’s flexibility may cause employees to blur the lines between their personal and professional lives. However, working remotely also provides a unique opportunity to tailor work schedules to individual needs, giving team members more opportunities to support young children or elders. By encouraging clear boundaries and respecting personal time, companies can help employees achieve a healthier work-life balance.

Man working from home office.

Potential Negative Impacts of Working Remotely

Remote work can be advantageous for both a company and its employees, but, if not accompanied by a strong corporate culture and assistance from the HR team, it has the potential to negatively impact workers. Arising from the four primary challenges outlined above, below are some potential negative impacts of remote work. HR professionals are in the best position to watch for these impacts, recognize the early signs of a potential problem and intervene to help the employee as needed.


Although many studies show that remote work can increase productivity, this is not necessarily the result for all workers. Research from the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) indicates that working from home might not be as productive as some may think, as remote workers may struggle to prioritize and maintain effective work routines. However, for properly supported employees, this doesn’t have to be a long-term issue. HR can help team leaders communicate clear goals and expectations through effective job descriptions, onboarding and training, and can help boost remote worker productivity by addressing remote work stressors, fostering team collaboration and providing check-ins to help keep employees on track.


Isolation can pose a significant challenge in remote work settings, with potential impacts on mental health and job satisfaction. The HR team can help address this by fostering a vibrant virtual community, encouraging regular video meetings and promoting team engagement. Creating a buddy system for new hires and establishing forums for sharing personal achievements and non-work-related interests can help replicate the office’s social atmosphere and improve employee engagement.


The home environment presents various distractions that can impede worker productivity, whether from a crying baby, loud construction or a neighbor mowing their lawn. To help set employees up for remote success, human resources can offer workshops on creating an optimal home office setup, including tips on minimizing distractions and setting boundaries with household members. Additionally, providing guidance on effective use of time, such as the Pomodoro Technique or time-blocking strategies, can help employees manage their workdays more efficiently.


The blurred lines between work and personal life can contribute to overwork and burnout among remote employees. HR should advocate for clear demarcations between work hours and personal time and encourage employees to fully disconnect after work hours. Promoting a culture that values rest, including emphasizing the importance of taking regular breaks and vacations, is essential. Regular wellness checks and mental health resources can offer additional support employees in managing stress and preventing burnout.

Time Zones

Teamwork between remote workers in different time zones can be challenging, potentially slowing projects or interfering with decision-making. Team leaders can help mitigate these negative effects by scheduling check-ins during overlapping hours and rotating hours to distribute late or early meetings fairly. HR can also coach remote workers on how to work with colleagues in other time zones. Strategies could include scheduling meetings only when it is feasible for all teams, using asynchronous communication platforms to allows results to be delivered even if team members are asleep and, as much as possible, treating both groups as one team.

Technical Challenges

Remote work is technology-dependent, so any disruption caused by hardware, software or network access can cause downtime, delays and frustration. Human resources can work with senior management to prioritize IT and infrastructure support for remote workers, who, without functioning technological tools and platforms, are at risk of losing their connection to the organization and their access to the information they need to perform their jobs. HR can also help remote workers by making technical issues a regular part of employee check-ins.


Without frequent contact with supervisors and colleagues who can reinforce motivation through recognition and feedback, remote work may cause an employee to feel that their work is less meaningful. A simple pat on the back, when deserved, can help a remote worker feel that they are part of a team and that their work is valued.

The same message is sent when the human resources team reaches out to check on an employee’s overall well-being. The regularity of check-ins and feedback are more important than their depth. Employees feel motivated when they are trained, encouraged, trusted, empowered, recognized, appreciated and rewarded.

Cyber Security

Remote work inherently increases susceptibility to cyber threats, since remote devices and networks may not have the same level of security as office systems. HR needs to take the lead in preparing new employees to understand and observe security policies, as they are likely to be the first to recognize when a remote worker’s behavior is causing a security vulnerability. By publishing and reinforcing best practices, HR can help foster a culture of cyber security.


Without regular opportunities for face-to-face interaction and brainstorming, remote workers may struggle to form teams that can generate new ideas and innovative solutions. To enhance collaboration, the HR team can include remote workers in cross-functional video meetings, plan collaboration sessions between departments, rotate employees among different teams, schedule activities that include remote workers and celebrate collective accomplishments.

Time Management

Some remote workers are well-organized and capable of effective time management, while others may struggle to utilize their time in a productive manner, potentially causing missing deadlines, delayed projects and heightened stress. To help cultivate good time management skills, HR can coach remote workers to clarify instructions and expectations with their supervisors, provide training in time management, track and review results, set goals for daily and weekly output, limit interruptions from other workers, identify and limit low-priority activities and keep meetings short.

Career Growth

Due to their limited physical visibility with managers, team leaders and decision-makers, remote workers may worry about their career progression. The HR team should work to ensure that each remote worker has access to career development tools and a plan for using them. Assessment tools can be used to identify skills gaps and align them with career goals. A robust suite of in-house training tools, workshops and library resources can allow remote employees to dedicate time to professional development, no matter their time zone. Offering incentives for the completion of online courses, webinars and mentorship programs can also help facilitate participation in development and training programs.

Bad Health Habits

The sedentary nature of remote work can contribute to obesity and other health risks, but HR can play a key role in encouraging employees to see their health and well-being as goals that are shared by the company. Classes can teach employees about healthy cooking, yoga, meditation or smoking cessation. Healthy social activities such as a monthly step challenge can communicate that employee health and well-being are organizational, not just individual, goals.

Employee Engagement

Engaging remote employees requires intentional effort to ensure they feel valued and part of the team. The human resources team can facilitate virtual onboarding experiences that connect new hires with their teams, organize regular social events and implement feedback mechanisms that allow employees to voice their ideas and concerns. To this end, the organization should be ready to invest in their development by providing tools, benefits, one-on-one feedback, mentorship from senior leaders and whatever else is needed to help them achieve their full potential.

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Five Core Strategies for HR’s Response to Remote Work

While HR may face unique situations due to remote work, these five core strategies can be used to shape an organization’s response to the challenges posed by remote employees.

  • Prioritize Communication and Transparency: HR professionals must establish clear communication channels to bridge the gap between remote employees, their colleagues and team leaders. Implementing regular team meetings, one-on-one check-ins and virtual town halls can help facilitate open dialogue and keep employees informed about company updates and initiatives. Encourage the use of video conferencing tools whenever possible to facilitate more personal interactions.
  • Foster Virtual Collaboration and Connection: To combat potential disconnection to the organization, HR should facilitate opportunities for virtual connection among remote employees through collaboration tools and virtual team-building activities. Scheduled coffee breaks, online team-building activities and peer mentoring programs can help facilitate informal interactions and relationship-building. Leverage technology to create virtual watercoolers or chat channels where employees can engage in casual conversations and share interests outside of work.
  • Cultivate a Culture of Trust and Autonomy: Remote work requires a high level of trust between employers and employees. HR professionals should focus on creating a culture of trust and autonomy by empowering employees to take ownership of their work and schedule. Emphasize results and outcomes over hours worked and provide flexibility for employees to manage their responsibilities in the way that best suits their needs. Encourage managers to set clear expectations and goals while providing the support and resources required to help remote employees succeed on their own.
  • Invest in Employee Well-being and Recognition: To help prevent disengagement and burnout, the HR team should prioritize employee well-being by offering resources for stress management and support for a healthy work-life balance. Implementing virtual wellness programs, mindfulness sessions and remote-friendly perks can help support employees’ physical and emotional health. Additionally, it’s important to recognize and celebrate the contributions of remote employees through virtual awards ceremonies, shout-outs in team meetings and personalized tokens of appreciation.
  • Promote Inclusivity and Diversity: Remote work has the potential to promote inclusivity and diversity by removing geographical barriers and expanding access to talent. However, HR must be proactive in promoting a culture of belonging in virtual environments. Provide employee training and resources on unconscious bias, cultural competence, inclusive leadership and other related topics to help remote teams navigate challenges holistically. The HR team can also contribute to fostering a corporate culture where all voices are valued and respected and where differences are celebrated as strengths.

Restoring Communication, Collaboration and Connection

By prioritizing communication, fostering virtual collaboration, cultivating trust and autonomy, investing in employee well-being and promoting inclusivity, HR managers can help maintain a strong and positive culture despite the challenges of remote work environments. With strategic interventions that support the well-being of remote workers, organizations can thrive in the era of remote work while preserving their unique identities and values.

In the era of remote work, let Higginbotham be your ally in building a resilient corporate culture. Our employee benefits, commercial insurance, HR and financial services solutions are tailored to meet your organization’s unique needs. Talk to a member of our team today and experience the Higginbotham difference.

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