Galactic Fed 12 min read
Communications Manager @ Galactic Fed
Published 26 Oct 2020
At Galactic Fed, a remote-first digital marketing agency, we know how to make working remote work for us. Our agency was founded on remote work principles, and our Co-Founders Zach Boyette and Irina Papuc, believe deeply in the benefits and freedom of working from wherever you want. In some cases, that includes airports, mountaintops, and sandy beaches.
But beyond having a sturdy remote work infrastructure, we’ve been able to create an organization with a distinct and established company culture - we call it the Galactic Fed Way. It’s a culture that is apparent from day one, that focuses on empowerment, and that celebrates every person aboard our ship. It took some trial and error, but once we found our footing, we took off.
Why bother trying to foster a company culture through remote work? While for starters, it’s good for business. Having a corporate culture that attracts top talent can lead to 33% more revenue. More importantly, it’s what keeps employees happy and remaining with the company, and satisfied employees who feel appreciated are a considerable advantage. (It’s one of the reasons Galactic Fed has an insanely low turnover rate.)
Recently, while most of the corporate world was (and is) troubleshooting how to transition their board meetings to Zoom calls, Galactic Fed remained thriving thanks to our established remote work practices and our emphasis on connection through company culture.
For the official definition, BuiltIn tells us that it is “the set of shared values, goals, attitudes, and practices that characterize an organization.” Or, in non-corporate speak, we prefer the definition given by Paul Spiegelman: “Company culture is not the office foosball table.”
The idea of the company and corporate culture varies depending on which office you’re in and which employee you’re speaking to. Ideally, company culture is the environment created by an organization that can establish a sense of purpose between teams and departments, generate more revenue, and ultimately turn employees into advocates. Traditionally, this was achieved through several tactics, such as:
While these strategies serve a purpose, they need to be evaluated as we see a huge shift to remote work, and most likely will continue to as remote work becomes the norm. And that makes the team lunches a little harder to organize.
Let’s take a look at some of the tried and tested ways that Galactic Fed has successfully infused our corporate culture into our completely remote company:
This point is a critical element in establishing a real, meaningful culture at work. It also means understanding that remote work is a serious benefit compared to the traditional 9-5 office culture, and instilling that belief across your organization is imperative to its success.
When COVID-19 came on the scene, and a whopping 77% of the American workforce went remote, it was commonly viewed negatively in the corporate world. The outdated idea of remote work and what it looks like made the C-suite nervous: images of employees sitting in their pajamas with their laptops at an arm’s length away while the tv blasts created doubt.
The upside to this is that COVID-19 and the subsequent impromptu remote workforce it created showed that employees were happier, more productive, and less likely to quit when working remotely.
Galactic Fed has always been a remote-first company since its inception. The company itself was founded on the idea that great work can be done from anywhere in the world (yes, anywhere) and that this allows companies to hire the best talent, wherever they are. This put us in the extremely fortunate position to be relatively unaffected by COVID when it came to making last-minute workforce adaptations, something we are incredibly grateful for.
In a recent interview on The Maverick Podcast, Galactic Fed Co-Founder Zach Boyette talked about precisely this: “We can hire the best people, whether that’s Canada, the US, Romania, Philippines, Brazil, wherever may be. We really try to focus on getting the best people wherever they are. And that allows us to move really fast.
Locally-based agencies haven’t been able to scale very fast because they have to find people from where they are, and that just really slows them down.”
To promote your company culture, you first need to define what that looks like for your organization. This is a crucial cornerstone of any business and should be treated as such. 46% of job seekers cite company culture as very important when choosing to apply to a job - and this is exacerbated in a remote setting if you haven’t laid a concrete foundation. These can also be used from a recruitment perspective to determine if potential employees align with your company values.
At Galactic Fed, we have employees worldwide, which means different backgrounds, religions, perspectives, and values. We knew we needed to create core values that were attainable and resonated with our diverse crew. Here’s where our ship landed:
You’ll notice these aren’t your typical “respect” and “collaboration” types of core values. Those principles should be the baseline of any modern company, so diving deep into the DNA of your business allows you to solidify the standards to build on.
Another perk of remote work culture is that it leaves room for a lot of creativity since you’re not bound by an office’s four walls. We understand the barriers some people face when it comes to making sure employees feel connected; after all, they may be working from different continents. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t ways to make sure there is meaningful relationship-building taking place.
For example, this past summer at Galactic Fed, we held a walk-a-thon, where our international staff was divided into teams with colleagues they didn’t typically work with and had a friendly competition to see who could out-walk the other teams from the previous month. And for some friendly competition, the winners were awarded a bonus on their paycheck. It creates the perfect atmosphere where employees can have conversations that aren’t work-related, with a healthy dose of team building.
As this article is being written, we are in the middle of a company-wide Photo Competition. Again, we separated our awesome employees into teams, assigned each week a different theme for a month, and had staff submit their best photos. Everyone then got to vote on the winners.
Source: Galactic Fed
Not only is this a fun way to engage with other departments, but it is also a way for people to share their interests, hobbies, and home life. These are just a few ways you can recreate that “watercooler talk” and encourage staff to connect in ways other than follow-ups and deadlines.
Plus, this goes beyond a fun competition, it fosters connection and allows employees to feel part of something bigger than their desk at home, and that’s what transforms employees into brand ambassadors.
One of the trickiest parts of remote work and establishing a distinct company culture is onboarding. We all know how it goes in a physical office - lots of face to face meetings, in-person training, and often someone to shadow or go to when questions may arise.
Onboarding needs to be a well documented and thought out system in the remote world since often employees will be self-administering some or all of their training documents and processes.
At Galactic Fed, we set up a clear onboarding process and schedule, custom made to each employee, and their specific role. This includes what their first weeks and months will look like and also establishes clear goals and KPIs to track and measure their success.
In a recent interview with Authority Magazine about managing remote teams, Galactic Fed Co-Founder Irina Papuc said, “Encourage the team to practice over-communication, that is, assuming that what reads as a clear text to the writer does not necessarily provide all the context to the reader. Give your colleague a chance to ask questions in a Q&A doc, and answer them promptly. Set up brief calls when needed to untangle any misreads quickly.”
In the Galactic Fed universe, when a new team member joins, it’s the policy for them to have calls with the individuals they will be working with and members of our leadership team. These calls aren’t your typical introduction call - there’s a strict focus placed on NOT talking about work-related items. It’s a great way to have a virtual coffee chat with new team members and emphasizes the importance of getting to know each other outside of work duties.
We understand that daily work can be deeply enriched when you’re connected with your colleagues. That’s why included in the onboarding items for every new employee, Galactic Fed includes the action item of “make three new friends.” This fosters company culture beyond what’s on your to-do list and ensures everyone has some form of relationship with each other.
As a growth marketing agency, we are continually staying updated about industry trends, courses, and certifications. And as experts in our fields, we are committed to always improving our skillset.
This means our staff is always improving through various courses, training, or skill enhancement, and we make sure that the whole team celebrates any single win. Check out the image below to see a pretty common occurrence aboard the Galactic Fed spaceship. This is what happens when a new team member passes a Google Ads exam or levels up their certifications:
Source: Galactic Fed
This recognition of individuals allows team members to feel appreciated and seen and serves as motivation for everyone else. While this may be a typical concept for those in office, celebrating wins remotely ensures staff can have their moment and be recognized for their determination since they won’t be sharing hallways and lunchrooms with their colleagues.
If you lack that company culture and connection, these simple yet extremely effective practices will send the message that you are invested in your team’s professional progress. Remember, if you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
Communications Manager @ Galactic Fed