Building a Remote Work Culture

Building a Remote Work Culture

“The most important thing right now and actually moving forward will be being deliberate about your culture. Your culture is the glue, and it’s degrading every day if you aren’t working on it.”

Bretton Putter


Bretton Putter is an expert in culture development. As the CEO of CultureGene, a culture leadership software and service platform, which consults to companies worldwide to help design, develop and build high-performing cultures, he has two pieces of advice around remote working best practise.

  1. Leaders must have a conversation with their team and acknowledge that things are never going to be the same again. The workplace has had to adapt and building a remote work culture is something everyone within the organisation has to work on. It’s not just a leadership responsibility, it’s everyone’s responsibility.
  2. Company culture development is the one sustainable, competitive advantage that a leader has control over. Brett guarantees leaders will see a return on investment when they start treating it like a function in the business – in other words, time is consistently dedicated to improving it.

Companies who invested time and worked on their culture pre-covid have found working remotely hard to do, but not as hard as companies who hadn’t worked on their values. Those with established cultures have realised that their mission and vision has remained the same and this has given them something to lean on that was real before the pandemic.

Have you read: Creating A Culture To Be Proud Of – Bill Clifton

When Brett was based in London, prior to founding CultureGene, he spent 16 years as a managing partner of a leading executive search firm working with start-ups and high growth companies across the UK, Europe and the USA. Right now, Brett is in full lockdown at his home in Portugal and acknowledges he might as well be living “on the moon”. It’s not all bad though as he is somewhere where the weather is better, wine is cheaper and has found a place that sells the right steak! He is isolated at home with his wife and two children, so life is good.

A large majority of the workforce is currently working remotely, or are following a hybrid model of work, while living under varying degrees of lockdown. Brett believes that we are seeing a moment of false productivity as people have limited freedoms and distractions to be involved in. When life returns to normal, complete with social commitments competing with our time, Brett can foresee a productivity collapse.

So, what is the definition of the terms ‘remote’ and ‘hybrid’ models of working?

Remote is deemed as an arrangement in which people are all dispersed and are working with no headquarters, office or central place to congregate.

Hybrid work is a real soup. Some people work in an office or congregate in a central location and the rest are working remotely. Hybrid organisations are harder to lead.

Have you read: Leading in a World of Change – Sam Sooialo

After interviewing and conducting eight months of research into companies like GitLab, Basecamp, Hotjar, Zapier, Buffer, Toptal, Automattic and others to understand how they operate, Brett published his first book in 2018 called Culture Decks Decoded.

Due to the success of his first book Brett published his second book in 2020 called Own Your Culture: How to Define, Embed and Manage Your Company Culture.

These books are the result of multiple failures and just about broke him and his wife so, there will not be a third – until he pulls all 10 fingernails and toenails out of his body!

What Brett has found is that there are nine fundamental best practices that these companies focus on when building a remote work culture. These points are what he and Brendan discuss in great detail in today’s The Culture of Leadership (TCoT) Podcast. Click here if you are a leader within a business that was unexpectedly forced into remote working and are keen to learn what your team needs to operate effectively.


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