How To Scale Company Culture Remotely

How To Scale Company Culture Remotely

Kate Pernfuss
Kate Pernfuss

It’s officially been over a year of the Digital Voices team going fully remote. From the thousands of Zoom calls (you’re on mute, Karen) to the joys of working in sweatpants, we’ve all had firsthand experience of the emotional rollercoaster of working from home.  

The past 12 months have seen challenges, as we all ask ourselves the same questions: How do I stay motivated? How many coffees is too many? Can I do this Zoom call from bed? But the pandemic has certainly normalised remote work, and this hybrid way of working has forced us to look differently at how we communicate and connect.  

As lockdown restrictions ease and we start to see a light at the end of the tunnel, the DV team is looking forward to having the option to go back into the office - and even meet some of our co-workers for the first time. But, the flexibility of remote work is here to stay.

I used to work at Google - where perks and culture were essential. When founding Digital Voices, I wanted to keep the Google sense of community, collaboration and fun, but remove some of the meaningless fluff and doublespeak. It’s going well! In the past year, Digital Voices has grown over 500% in terms of revenue and more than tripled our staff headcount.

It’s been a real challenge to build a culture while working from home, so here are my 5 top tips:

1. Build a Structure & Boundaries

One of the hardest parts of working from home is the lack of boundaries. The average employee working from home in the UK, Australia, Canada and the US is logging on to their computer for an extra two hours a day since the COVID-19 outbreak. Working has replaced the commute.

It’s important to establish that there needs to be a clear start and end to the day. Separation between work and home life is more important than ever. At Digital Voices, we have scheduled morning and evening calls for each team. This isn’t to check in on employees, but to ensure everyone finishes on time at 5:30pm and feels close to their team, even from home. Whether it’s to catch up about the campaigns we are working on, or to hear what our colleagues had for lunch, we use these calls to recreate structure and a semblance of office community.

2. Focus on Learning Now

As everyone is stuck at home - often with work as their only outlet - people seem more focused on finding meaning in their careers than ever before. Research from totaljobs revealed that 2 in 3 UK workers have changed jobs due to a lack of learning and development opportunities. It’s crucial to offer ways for employees to upskill and learn from others on the team.

The temptation is to see working from home as a temporary blip and leave learning and development until things are more structured and “back to normal”. That’s a massive mistake, especially as remote working becomes the norm and people succumb to work boredom.

Bi-Weekly Lunch & Learns

One of the biggest mistakes companies make is not to empower or ask for feedback from new or more junior team members. Everyone has knowledge that we can all learn from. We run bi-weekly lunch and learns - an hour company-wide session over lunch, with a Deliveroo meal paid for by DV. Whether it’s on video editing from our Head of Video, or a deep dive into best practices for working with gaming creators by one of our Campaign Producers, there’s plenty to learn within the team.  

Online Courses

Everyone at Digital Voices has a learning and development target as part of their quarterly goals. To make sure people manage to learn online, we offer Udemy courses funded by the company. Whether it’s a course on copywriting, or how to manage a team, it’s crucial to keep learning in your job.

Weekly YouTube Sessions

As a more casual approach to learning from each other, we have company-wide weekly YouTube sessions, where everyone shares something new they’ve watched that week. Not only does this help us keep up-to-date with rising YouTube stars and stay on top of the latest trends, we also ensure our team has a deep knowledge of the YouTube ecosystem and get to know each other. Employees are welcome to grab a drink, as everyone has a chance to take the team through their favourite YouTube video.

3. Show You Care

This year has been incredibly difficult for lots of people, so it’s more important than ever to celebrate the little wins. Think about how much we’ve saved on dinners, drinks and offices and use some of those savings for random surprises. From sending the team cookies and brownies ‘just because’ or having champagne delivered at the end of a new stater’s first week, little things show that you notice people’s contributions.

We’re a young and very social team, so losing the afterwork drinks and lunchtime strolls has definitely been tough. Yes, Zoom isn’t the same. But just because we are working remotely doesn’t mean we can’t build relationships with co-workers. To bring our virtual team closer together, we recently did a team cocktail class, with a mixologist taking the team through some creative cocktail recipes. Even a year into lockdown, tipsily in-sync drunk ordering McDonald’s remotely made us feel closer than ever!

Finally, during the day we couldn't be more thankful for Slack. Along with all the work messages that save our email inbox, we’ve made people into emojis, shared photos on the Pets of DV channel and industry information on the Interesting Stats channel.

4. Offer Emotional Employee Support

It’s easy to get carried away with the fun little things, but this past year has been really tough and uncertain for lots of people. Supporting the team will always be one of my top priorities. When developing programmes for work-from-home support, we’ve made sure to listen and to take feedback onboard to ensure everyone has the support they need. We promote extra time off when we’ve noticed someone has worked too many hours, and offer private healthcare with mental health support 24/7.  

We’re proud to have a company culture where it is encouraged to speak out about burnout, lack of motivation or any other struggles. Whether it’s advice on how to maintain a work-life balance without the separation of a commute or tips on how to focus when working from a living room instead of an office, we know we have somewhere to turn when times are getting tough. Where possible, we also encourage ‘no meeting Fridays’ in aim to increase productivity and reduce stress.

5. Promote Flexible Work

Looking beyond COVID, we will continue to offer our employees remote work and work-from-anywhere perks. If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it’s that most of our meetings could have been emails. In efforts to embrace hybrid working, we’ve even given up our office in exchange for the flexible working spaces across London. We want to offer our employees the option to work from home if they want it, as well as a creative environment to collaborate with coworkers. Not going to lie, I’m looking forward to the free flowing coffee and the spacious (and snack-filled) kitchens.

However - or wherever - we work in the future, company culture is at the heart of Digital Voices. If you have any suggestions for things we could add or do better, please drop an email to our People & Culture lead Becky (

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