HR & Culture
 min read

How to Build Company Spirit While Working Remote

How to Build Company Spirit While Working Remote
September 21, 2020

In this article

Companies That Care About Spirit Have a Not-So Secret Advantage

Why does company spirit matter and how can you get it?

It’s not just about warm, fuzzy feelings. 

Companies that value team spirit tend to see higher retention of employees, easier time recruiting, increased growth, higher revenue. etc. There are companies that prove that even during difficult times, i.e. Jetblue, Chick-fil-a, Publix, Starbucks.

According to Gallup, there are two main ideas to get when it comes to understanding the importance of company spirit:

1) Individuals who know their strengths work together to form better partnerships, and more thoughtful partnerships create stronger teams. Strong teams start with the individual.

2) The strengths and dynamics of your team directly affect business outcomes.

And the numbers back that up. Company spirit is directly related to engagement, and the effects of high employee engagement are well documented. Gallup shares that engagement can lead to as much as:

  • 41% lower absenteeism 
  • 24% lower turnover
  • 17% higher productivity
  • 21% higher profitability

Hiring is a good moment to look for the kinds of individuals that are more likely to contribute to raising the energy of the team. These kinds of people contribute to the overall company spirit and are extremely valuable for reinforcing the company culture. 

Taso Du Val, CEO of Toptal, explains that "there are a lot of companies that are small that still have really great talent, very highly skilled individuals are having to depart because those businesses can't withstand this crisis. And so if you take an aggregate of the world talent supply and all the companies that are associated with companies of that nature, those dynamics, there's a lot of talent that is now available."

But how do you get it? Company spirit may sound like the stuff of legend — inspiring and desirable, but not realistic. And if you know you have a great office culture but are concerned about how to translate that to a remote team, “unrealistic“ is the last thing you want.

But you know company spirit matters. You know that company spirit isn’t just a nice to have — it’s a competitive advantage. 

And most of all, you know you want a team on your hands. 

Not a collection of individuals who happen to be on the same payroll.

So what’s step one?

Tell Your Employees How It All Began  

The power of the origin story

Ah, the origin story. It may sound like just another way to share your company’s history. It is not; it is much more than that. 

Because history presented as a list of facts is rarely inspiring. Your employees do not experience the aha! moment your founder felt. There is no moment of connection and excitement that becomes the foundation of your company’s culture.

But with an origin story, there is.

What was the problem? Why was it a problem? Who was involved? Where did it happen? Your origin story tells your employees how the company got here, and in the process, communicates the foundation of your company’s culture.

Stories captivate. The origin story is something every employee should know from their very first day. And because company spirit is about having pride and joy in being part of something bigger, it’s a mistake to pass over sharing the origin story.


Ideas tend to get a lot of hype. But here’s a new truth: Truly original ideas are rare. And originality matters less than you think.

What matters is execution - everything your company’s founder did to take an idea and make it a reality.

An origin story shares that. In telling others your company’s origin story, you stand out from all the noise. The origin story is a unique part of your brand. Because while there may be similar elements, no two origin stories are entirely the same. 

Your origin story cannot be copied; it is your company’s truth. And when your origin story is part of the brand, you’re also instantly putting your company on the radar of people who are a good cultural fit. How’s that for a win-win?

Here are some brands that have successfully leveraged the power of the origin story:

  • Virgin Airlines — “I had a beautiful lady waiting for me in BVI and I hired a plane and borrowed a blackboard and as a joke I wrote Virgin Airlines on the top of the blackboard, $39 one way to BVI. I went out round all the passengers who had been bumped and I filled up my first plane.”
  • Warby Parker — “We were students when one of us lost his glasses on a backpacking trip. The cost of replacing them was so high that he spent the first semester of grad school without them, squinting and complaining.”
  • Starbucks — “In 1983, Howard Schultz traveled to Italy and became captivated with Italian coffee bars and the romance of the coffee experience. He had a vision to bring the Italian coffeehouse tradition back to the United States. A place for conversation and a sense of community. A third place between work and home.”
  • Airbnb — “The year was 2007, and roommates Joe Gebbia and Brian Chesky couldn't afford their San Francisco rent. [...] Gebbia wrote Chesky with an idea: What if they turned their loft into a designer's bed and breakfast, complete with a sleeping mat and breakfast? It was a way to "make a few bucks." 
  • SPANX — “Founder Sara Blakely was getting ready for a party when she realized she didn’t have the right undergarment to provide a smooth look under white pants. Armed with scissors and sheer genius, she cut the feet off her control top pantyhose and the SPANX revolution began!”


An origin story isn’t just good for the brand. It’s also the foundation of strong company spirit. Because the origin story is something every employee has in common. That is, shared appreciation and pride in their organization!

This is powerful because as your new employees integrate into the organization, their knowledge of where the company came from helps them embrace a history and traditions beyond themselves.

The result? You’ve not only provided an emotional connection for your company’s talent, but also made clear the roots to your company’s culture. Now it’s time to use that spirit.

Share an Inspiring Mission

Let’s go to the moon

Woot! Your employees know the origin story and they’re all on the same page. What’s next?

History is one thing. But your employees are at the company for a reason — to make a difference in the company’s future.

That’s why an inspiring mission is important. Far from being a meaningless statement gathering dust in a handbook somewhere, a clear mission is important in helping your employees connect the past to the present.

When the mission is evident in the work and something that the company leadership makes sure to focus on, employees are more likely to feel company spirit and excitement towards the future.


The leaders of your company have a vision they believe in, and in sharing that vision, they can add energy to the team’s work. Because a vision offers a sense of purpose and meaning to the work; it’s aspirational.

Communicating this during onboarding is important, but not as important as bringing the mission to the everyday work. Especially if you want your team to gain a boost in motivation.

How we like to do this: take a moment to share big and small wins, including customer testimonials and feedback that reaffirms the value of your company culture and the work your employees do. Share client success stories that illustrate the impact of each members’ contribution. Recognize and reward employees for their hard work, especially when they go beyond the call of duty.


Making clear your company’s mission also helps your employees better understand the goals. Once there’s a shared vision, employees understand what they’re trying to accomplish and can then better contribute towards company goals.

When you have your employees aligned with your company mission, company spirit is a natural result. Employees have not only bought into the vision; they’re now excited about the possibilities and what they’re doing to help make that happen.

For a team of driven hustlers, this is especially important because alignment between the company’s and the individual’s translates to greater efficiency and productivity as a whole.

And finally, a team that understands the mission has the ability to make the right call. This makes each individual more effective at their job and raises the performance of the entire company.

To promote alignment, remember to keep the mission at the forefront. In all-hands and in 1-on-1s, you want to help everyone see why what the work they are doing matters and how it is important to the mission.

Grow the Tribe With Thoughtful Leaders

The secret sauce of a thriving community

Now for the fun stuff! The path to creating an energetic, thriving company spirit amongst your employees is a lot easier when you’ve set the foundation for it through sharing the company’s origin story and tying the work today to the company mission and vision.

It’s time to grow the tribe. This section is for your community leaders — whether it’s in their title or not.


Great organizations are made of great people. This is often forgotten when companies get used to hiring a particular type of person or reaching out through the same old networks. But a lack of diversity often leads to the same ideas and approaches. Things get stagnant and stale. That’s not what your company wants. Diversity allows for employees who have had a wide range of life experiences give a different perspective, keeping ideas innovative and fresh. 

Hiring is a good moment to look for the kinds of individuals that are more likely to contribute to raising the energy of the team. These kinds of people contribute to the overall company spirit and are extremely valuable for reinforcing the company culture.

Now this might be a bit controversial, but we stand by it: avoid the ‘superstars’ that have a track record of amazing work, but are not very interested in being a team player. While they may bring results, the invisible impact of their disengagement and disinterest can bring down the rest of your team. 

A side note: Introverts and extroverts will show support for the company and exhibit company spirit differently. Because having both kinds of personalities is part of a diverse team, make sure you aren’t penalizing your introverts for not behaving like your extroverts! They may be thrilled when the company wins and may prefer to show that by working hard on their latest project rather than speaking up at Zoom calls.


Figureheads have no place in a high-growth company. 

Company spirit is often encouraged or ignored at the example set by the leader. What this means is that it’s important to make sure people in leadership roles are aware of the effect they have on the rest of the team when it comes to company spirit.

The most effective leaders recognize that they have the ability to nurture company spirit in employees through pride in their work and excitement about how they’re contributing.

💡 See David Logan explain tribal leadership in this TED talk

If you don’t already, start off by taking a moment to welcome new employees and introduce them to the entire team at the next all-hands meeting. If they’re up to it, give them a chance to say a few words. The face time they get with everyone doesn’t have to be long, and it gets across a message that they are now part of the team. By giving them the opportunity to speak in your company-wide meeting, you’re standing by your promise to truly allow everyone a seat at the table. 

Next, promote collaborative behavior and engagement in company activities. Your new hires will likely already be looking for the opportunity to do so and deepen their connections with their coworkers. When you reinforce this through your language and attitude, this tells them that the team has company spirit and it’s something that can help them bond with others as they get used to their new role.

For example, support positive team interactions like shoutouts and kudos. If your team uses a virtual communication channel like Slack, a subtle (and non-disruptive) way to do this throughout the day is through emoji reacts. Another option is to promote virtual watercooler talk through channels like #random, #funny, and #virtual-coffee


In new situations and environments, we tend to take cues from others. To encourage company spirit, leaders and long-time employees can set the pace by paying attention to how employees interact with each other outside of work activities. For example, small talk before meetings about the latest show people are watching can re-energize your employees if they’ve been spending a lot of time doing focused work.

There are also moments throughout the workday that can be used to promote company spirit, including breaks involving coffee, ice cream, or the team’s favorite snack.

Is it a heads-down and work kind of day? Try a live co-working session. This may not work for everyone, especially your employees more prone to chatting when they see another human being. For others, having someone else in the same room - even if it’s virtually - is all the accountability they need to get work done. And when people have to leave, a quick chat message is all that’s needed to let everyone else know they’re signing off (minimizing the chances of flow state disruption.)

For more ideas, check out our post on the best virtual team building activities!


We love companies that not only do amazing work with their mission, but also think about how they can do good. Because company spirit is related to the pride one feels for the company, opportunities for the company to give back is an effective way to honor company values, inspire employees, and do good for the larger community.

Team can work together to clean up a park, fundraise for a cause with the company matching donations, or volunteer to help a nonprofit organization. These are signs of a strong company culture that go a long way in building company spirit. Plus, the benefits of knowing you did good can’t be overstated.

Get started with these ideas:

  • Send letters to an organization like Cardz for Kids!
  • Run a virtual office drive to collect donations for your local food bank or charity
  • Fundraise for a local nonprofit organization
  • Go solo or team up to offer pro bono services
  • Volunteer to clean up a public space
  • Offer workshops and training to help educate others


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