How 7 Companies Prioritize Culture for Remote and Hybrid Team Members

These NYC companies are focused and strategic in fostering company culture for all workers, regardless of their environment or location.

Written by Lucas Dean
Published on Feb. 28, 2023
How 7 Companies Prioritize Culture for Remote and Hybrid Team Members
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For many U.S. companies and their team members, the transition to remote and hybrid work sprung from sudden necessity, and while this shift offered its fair share of benefits, it wasn’t without its challenges. 

Some came from new “co-workers” like kids and pets and the other factors that came into play when home and office merged into a single entity. Other challenges were more from the absence of things we’d grown accustomed to, like in-person interactions with co-workers and the sense of community that came with collaboration in a shared space. 

As time has passed and remote and hybrid work has evolved from a temporary measure to the new standard, companies and leaders are investing time, energy and resources into strengthening their culture for all employees — no matter their schedules or locations. 

Culture is, after all, what grounds our daily tasks and individual contributions in shared experiences, overarching goals and an undercurrent of support and inclusion. And without conscious efforts to maintain it, company culture can easily fall by the wayside for those who work from home. 

At seven NYC companies, leaders are going all-in on their company culture. Read what they had to say about how they maintain a strong culture, the roles employees play in contributing to it and the strategies they’ve adopted to suit their unique work models. 

 

The Jackpocket team gathered for an outdoor activity.
Jackpocket

 

Nicole Gendusa
Human Resources Manager • Jackpocket

Jackpocket, one of Built In’s Best Places to Work in 2023, is the first licensed third-party lottery app in the country. 

 

How and where are your teams working right now? Is your team fully remote, in-office or some mix of the two? 

Our workforce is a unique mix of remote, hybrid and in-office teams throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. We have 23 in-person office locations! Our company is built by our people for our people; our demographics differ and make our culture so special. We work together to grow and learn in an accepting and welcoming environment, allowing our team to be their true selves at work. 

We gather the team for a virtual all-hands meeting on a biweekly basis. This is a great way for individuals to share what they’re working on with the team at large. An operations supervisor in Oregon can learn about what a product manager in NYC is focusing on that week! 

Our HR team collaborates across offices to create monthly engagement calendars filled with company events that all employees nationwide can partake in. These events range from things like celebrating National Pancake Day to Bring Your Dog to Work Day. Being able to share collective experiences helps our team to feel closer to one another. 

 

What are some key ways you maintain a strong company culture? And how have you adapted those strategies for your current work model?

Our culture is the foundation of who we are as a company. Maintaining our culture across a distributed workforce is one of our top priorities, stemming straight from executive leadership. The key is encouraging and adopting an open-door policy throughout the organization. This starts with our management leading with empathy. Creating an environment where people feel comfortable voicing their ideas and sharing their perspectives makes us stronger as a team and helps us to implement initiatives that will have a positive impact on our people. 

Maintaining our culture across a distributed workforce is one of our top priorities, stemming straight from executive leadership.”

 

It takes time and effort to make sure each employee in every office or remote location recognizes the importance of their voice in tandem with our company culture. We make sure employees know their impact from day one through our onboarding process, and we take a hands-on approach to collecting employee feedback every step of the way. Instilling open feedback from the get-go helps us continuously improve throughout the year. By the time we conduct yearly sentiment analysis, employees are able to recognize that their feedback will help us to drive measurable results companywide and, in turn, provide meaningful responses.

 

What role do employees play in maintaining and strengthening the company culture? 

Our employee resource groups truly have a direct impact on strengthening our company culture. Employees are encouraged to form and lead ERGs surrounding areas that they are passionate about. Our leadership is passionate about supporting ERGs, making sure to allocate the necessary resources to ensure success. We currently have four employee-led ERGs ranging from groups of similar interests to groups of self-identity. Recently, our Asian Pacific Islander+ group hosted an origami-making session and taught employees how to make paper cranes. Being able to share our employees’ individual cultures is what makes our company culture what it is today. 

 

 

Grow Therapy team members meet for a bi-weekly town hall.
Grow Therapy

 

Keshar Sheridan
Head of People • Grow Therapy

Healthtech company Grow Therapy provides therapists with a way to launch tech-driven, in-network practices. 

 

How and where are your teams working right now? Is your team fully remote, in-office or some mix of the two? 

At Grow Therapy, we believe that the best talent is located all over the U.S., so we welcome both fully remote and in-office team members. Our HQ is located in New York City, with some New York-based folks choosing to come in every day or a couple of days a week. For those in the office, we try to do lunch as a team most days and ensure that all of our meetings and happy hours take place online so that our remote teammates feel included.

 

What are some key ways you maintain a strong company culture? And how have you adapted those strategies for your current work model?

Grow really invests in building strong relationships across teams. When team members join, they are encouraged to spend a week in HQ getting to know their colleagues and the work environment. We host biweekly virtual town halls, where we get to know new joiners and give teams the opportunity to share the projects they’re working on or provide company updates. Every month the company hosts a fun activity, like pumpkin carving or gingerbread house decorating, which is always shared via Zoom so remote folks can join in. We recently came together for the first annual companywide off-site in Austin to meet in person, have fun, share ideas and collaborate, which we’ll look forward to every year!

Grow really invests in building strong relationships across teams. When team members join, they are encouraged to spend a week getting to know their colleagues and the environment.”

 

What role do employees play in maintaining and strengthening the company culture? 

When we hire, we’re looking for empathetic, open-minded and thoughtful people who are naturally more collaborative and mission driven, which then creates and maintains the culture we’re so proud of. An example of an employee-run initiative started as a Pride Slack channel, which encouraged our LGBTQIA+ community and allies to come together in a safe space. Through this channel, we hosted a webinar where we invited LGBTQIA+ therapists from our community to host a company discussion about how we can better support each other and our clients. This session was incredibly valuable and prompted changes and improvements to everything from our internal communications and advertising to the customer experience on our website.

 

 

A group photo of Transfix’s Atlanta team.
Transfix

 

Rebecca Smith
Senior Manager, People Business Partner & Site Lead, Atlanta • Transfix

Logistics software company Transfix is a freight marketplace that connects shippers to reliable carriers.

 

How and where are your teams working right now? Is your team fully remote, in-office or some mix of the two?

Transfix has offices in New York and Atlanta that support hybrid in-office teams and fully remote employees spread across the U.S. We prioritize equity and inclusion in how we engage all of our employees in a few ways. First, we strive to ensure that while we have one core culture and value system that is location agnostic, we also support each office’s unique culture. We’re thoughtful and intentional about how we include our remote employees in all activities that help cultivate and reaffirm our culture.

This starts with a dynamic, carefully designed onboarding experience for hybrid and remote employees, setting the universal stage for our mixed working model. For example, everyone receives their laptop at home, and new hires start officially on the Tuesday of their first week. This extra day alleviates stress and enables our new hires to fully prepare their workstation and ensure they have everything they need. From there, our orientation process was designed with the goal of informing without overwhelming new Transfixers. Overall, our goal is to create a safe space and just the right balance of information and social interaction for our new hires to feel set up for success.

 

What are some key ways you maintain a strong company culture? And how have you adapted those strategies for your current work model?

Since we have a dispersed workforce, we have focused on developing a strong hybrid meeting culture. Meetings that enable all employees to come together wherever they are. With that in mind, we are beginning to adopt a “one person, one screen” approach to hybrid meetings so that everyone is equally heard and represented. Since we’re in the freight tech space, we’ve just launched a training program through our new Transfix University where everyone in the company will get to book a load of freight. This way, everyone understands our mission firsthand and empathizes with the people on the front lines of our industry. 

We are beginning to adopt a ‘one person, one screen’ approach to hybrid meetings so that everyone is equally heard and represented.”

 

We have lots of other virtual and hybrid events, too! From biweekly all-hands meeting to hackathons to “Transfixgiving” to cultural recognition months and activities to our annual holiday party, we are constantly thinking about how to mirror office cultures while honoring each office’s uniqueness. Studies have shown that having friends at work is a powerful indicator of happiness, engagement and even productivity, so we emphasize not just effective working meetings but also setting the stage for Transfixers to forge strong friendships as well.

 

What role do employees play in maintaining and strengthening the company culture? 

Our Transfixers are integral in shaping, maintaining and strengthening our company culture, both through formal programming led by our ERGs and informal engagement. One great example of an employee-led initiative in our Atlanta office, a much newer office, was a simple idea: Salad Day. Two Transfixers on our Atlanta ops team decided to encourage others to bring in items to make a potluck-style salad bar on a random workday, and it just took off! Since Salad Day, our event culture in Atlanta has taken off, and we’ve had a Bake Off, Door Decorating competition, A Dip-Off — ask me about it! — and Jersey Day, with many more events to come. Because this started from our employees instead of our leadership or people team, it’s authentic, organic and fun — the definition of great culture. Since Salad Day, we’ve seen an increase in cross-functional collaboration and overall synergy within and between teams, driving our business forward in exciting ways.

 

 

A group photo of Teachable’s team
Teachable

 

Penelope Santana
Office Manager • Teachable

Edtech company Teachable hosts over 100,000 instructors and creators who use the platform to monetize and share their knowledge with learners, track and analyze their business performance, and more.

 

How and where are your teams working right now? Is your team fully remote, in-office or some mix of the two? 

While we have a large NY-area workforce, over the last few years, our geography has expanded across the U.S. and Brazil. With this location shift, we wanted to invest in ways to create a culture and operating environment that better serves our business, our creators and how we work with one another. Thus, we shifted to a fully remote-first culture at the start of 2023. Following this decision, we planned our first companywide event, :transform by Teachable. The objective for this three-day event was to connect in person, problem-solve together, be inspired by our mission and creators, and align on our company goals and strategy for 2023. While we all love the flexibility of being remote, having this time to connect in real life with almost 200 colleagues made our work that much more meaningful. 

While we all love the flexibility of being remote, having this time to connect in real life with almost 200 colleagues made our work that much more meaningful.”

 

We also were able to discuss practical matters such as how to have better asynchronous communications, re-think meeting structure and discuss best practices for communications. While we’re still working toward building our own best practices, putting a face to a name has been invaluable. This event and this time together were an investment in all of us building culture together.

 

What are some key ways you maintain a strong company culture? And how have you adapted those strategies for your current work model?

Whether collocated or remote, we have always believed in transparency and connecting with and supporting our customers–creators who are using their knowledge — on our platform — to transform the world. Thus, our leaders have continued to share information about company performance and teach us about metrics that matter to better understand how our actions impact our customers. In fact, a part of our :transform agenda this past week was to “Learn:Together” via employee-led training sessions on four strategic topics that have an important business impact for 2023. 

Furthermore, we saw our mission come to life when we met with some Teachable creators who shared their stories about their journeys and what’s next for them and their businesses during the event. While we showcase our creators regularly at biweekly company all-hands meetings, meeting our creators live and being able to interact in a question-and-answer discussion energized us to do even more to support their growth and inspired new ideas about what we can build next. We are a mission-driven organization, and hearing these creator stories truly galvanizes us to build better for them so they can serve their students better.

 

What role do employees play in maintaining and strengthening the company culture? 

It’s important that all of our employees feel connected to our company’s mission and values. Our employees are encouraged to operate like owners. They are empowered to speak up, operate and solve together. Last week our ERGs hosted lunch hangouts during :transform. Their event helped connect existing members and new employees interested in joining. Our ERGs are completely employee driven. 

We currently have six ERGs: Asian Pacific Islander, Black Employees @ Teachable, LatinX, neuro:diversity, Teachaqueers and Women of Teachable. Each of these ERGs selects leads each quarter, and the company supports those leads with a stipend because of the extra work they put into their role and provides the ERGs with activity budgets. During the year, they create companywide educational training events, sponsor social activities related to identity and offer other experiences, both virtually and in person. How they use their budget is up to them. Because employees feel that they can self-organize and create these groups together, it has led to a deeper sense of community among our employees. It’s created a culture of support, inclusion and respect.

 

 

A look inside Ogury’s office.
Ogury

 

Nicolette Alcenat
Director, People Partnering • Ogury

Ogury is an adtech company and tech stack that delivers comprehensive audience interests, brand performance, privacy protection and sustainability. 

 

How and where are your teams working right now? Is your team fully remote, in-office or some mix of the two? 

Our team is made up of employees who are either fully remote or in-office a few days a week. Like many companies, we were on-site five days a week prior to the pandemic. But it taught us that we are capable of having more flexibility, and we now have some team members who are fully remote. As an organization, we have learned that we have to be adaptable and agile when it comes to our team members. We respect that our employees have different motivations, unique personal situations and goals, and even different cultures. We want to be mindful that one size does not fit all while still showing that there is value in having some face-to-face interactions. That has always been our goal — finding the balance between flexibility while still showing the importance of engaging in person.

 

What are some key ways you maintain a strong company culture? And how have you adapted those strategies for your current work model?

It starts with listening. Over the last few years, we learned that employees really care about their development and well-being. Last year was huge for us. With the support of our executive and people teams, we were able to launch new initiatives around mental health, ensuring that our team members are provided with access to tools, resources, therapists and coaches at no cost to them. We also launched our Manager Academy and Learning Bootcamps to continue to drive a culture of learning and continuous improvement. 

We were able to launch new initiatives around mental health, ensuring that our team members are provided with access to tools, resources, therapists and coaches at no cost.”

 

Ogury’s values and standards tie everything together. They are embedded into our day to day, and we live and breathe them on a daily basis. One of my favorite Ogury standards is “Debate and Commit.” We recognize that everyone has a different opinion and perspective when it comes to solving problems or tackling a project. We encourage healthy debate by asking each other questions and being curious, and once we’ve come to an agreement, we commit to what we said we would do. Also, our standards and values awards recognize team members who live and breathe our values, raise the bar and exemplify what these values truly mean.

 

What role do employees play in maintaining and strengthening the company culture? 

Ogury has an employee-led DEI resource group, the Mosaic, that strives to provide underrepresented groups with an equitable voice. This group brings team members together to raise awareness about and embrace our diversity. Additionally, our Women of Ogury group focuses on topics that celebrate women as well as topics that may have been viewed as taboo in the past. We, as an organization, do not shy away from tough conversations, and we love to educate ourselves. Both of these groups are instrumental when it comes to strengthening our culture. We encourage all team members — whether in New York, Italy, Paris or Mexico City — to join these initiatives, either to participate or just listen. Everyone gets something out of it, and it brings us all together.

 

 

Lauren Tropeano
Chief People Officer • Skillshare

Edtech company Skillshare is an online learning community that offers thousands of classes covering a range of topics. 

 

How and where are your teams working right now? Is your team fully remote, in-office or some mix of the two? 

Skillshare’s team is fully remote and distributed across the world, with team members located across North America, Europe, Asia and South America. We have no physical office spaces, and all of our work is done remotely. We made this decision thoughtfully because we wanted to ensure our culture allowed for everyone to be on an equal playing field with respect to how work gets done and how we collaborate and interact with each other on a daily basis. 

While we have people who work across a variety of time zones, we respect each other’s working hours and find mutual times when we are available for one another. Asynchronous communication helps a great deal so that everyone feels connected regardless of when and how they’re working. 

Lastly, I would say that one of the things that make our culture really rich and interesting is the diversity of backgrounds and experiences our team brings to Skillshare. With talent from all over the world, we have a group of really interesting people with inspiring hobbies, fun travel stories, loads of creativity and lots of interests outside of work to connect with each other about.

 

What are some key ways you maintain a strong company culture? And how have you adapted those strategies for your current work model?

As an all-remote company, we are deliberate and thoughtful about how we share information, create connections and celebrate special moments with each other. With transparency as one of Skillshare’s core values, we are deliberate about documenting information so that it is available and accessible to everyone in an asynchronous format. We provide regular updates on how we are doing against our OKRs and open forums to learn about progress against our product roadmap, so everyone is well informed. 

As an all-remote company, we are deliberate and thoughtful about how we share information, create connections and celebrate special moments with each other.”

 

We host a weekly companywide town hall meeting where updates are shared and the team can see and interact with each other. In the spirit of creativity, which is core to Skillshare’s mission, each town hall starts off with a DJ set played by one of our employees who has an incredible collection of music. It really sets a vibe for the team, and it’s fun to see everyone lip-syncing too! 

Annually, we host an all-company retreat where our team comes together in person for several days to reconnect with our mission, socialize, strengthen connections and have fun. This is a cherished opportunity to foster belonging and bring us closer together as a team.

 

What role do employees play in maintaining and strengthening the company culture? 

One of the strongest and most unique aspects of our culture is our focus on creativity, community and wellness — and the belief that they are intertwined. We believe there are powerful benefits that come from exploring creativity, practicing self-care and doing things you love for yourself and your community. 

We acknowledge and foster this through our unlimited PTO policy, unplug and volunteering days, and our Growth and Creativity fund, which gives employees $1150 annually to spend on the things that help keep them healthy and enable their personal and professional growth. Our employees have led the creation of lots of spaces to share and collaborate on their creative passions, such as our #ArtsandCrafts, #Musicians and #MakerSquad Slack channels. 

Our value “Community” is reflected daily in the products and experiences that our people design and build for our teachers and users. In addition, a core tenet of Skillshare’s culture is the ability to bring your authentic self to work. Our employee-led ERGs are spaces of community for those who share identities, backgrounds and experiences. These groups aim to provide a safe space, enhance well-being and foster inclusion and belonging.

 

 

Albert team members enjoy a fun activity.
Albert

 

Kinga Bellard
Workplace and Culture Lead • Albert

Albert is a financial management app that unites banking, savings, investing, budgeting and working in a single destination. 

 

How and where are your teams working right now? Is your team fully remote, in-office or some mix of the two? 

We’re very much a hybrid team now, with about half of all employees being fully remote and the other half distributed between three offices, including New York City, Los Angeles and Ecuador. Not only does this allow us to hire the best talent out there — since we’re not limited to one market — but we’re also able to offer our in-office employees a hybrid work experience. Local employees are asked to be at the office three days a week and can work from home the other two, and all employees get four weeks a year to “work from anywhere,” which offers the opportunity to travel or spend more time with family.

 

What are some key ways you maintain a strong company culture? And how have you adapted those strategies for your current work model?

We maintain a strong company culture by providing employees ample opportunities to hang out and get to know each other while letting loose and even learning something new. We’ve done ax throwing, trivia nights, bowling, cooking classes, planting and pottery workshops and so much more for our on-site employees. We’ve made sure to include our remote teams as well by hosting virtual game nights, escape rooms, chocolate tastings, step challenges and more. 

We maintain a strong company culture by providing employees opportunities to hang out and get to know each other while letting loose and even learning something new.”

 

What I love about these events is you get to know who people are outside of work, which makes us all feel a little more connected. I recently saw one of our recruiters introduce herself to an engineer at an event — they’ve both been at the company for quite some time, but the pandemic made it difficult to meet people for a while. I thought, “Yes! That’s what this is all about!” It gave me a sense of satisfaction because that connection — or lack thereof — really affects company culture.

 

What role do employees play in maintaining and strengthening the company culture? 

One of our employees expressed interest in joining a corporate basketball league, and there was enough interest at the office to put together a corporate team. He fully led the initiative, and we supported the team by ordering custom jerseys and covering all league fees. Later on, an unofficial tennis club formed, and several LA employees participated after work, with the more experienced players coaching the newbies. Seeing this engagement is so rewarding because it means our employees have formed bonds beyond the office, and who wouldn’t want to work with their friends?

 

Responses have been edited for length and clarity. Images via listed companies and Shutterstock.

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