Global Hiring

Building Culture Across Borders

April 8, 2024

Building a robust company culture is a cornerstone of success for any organization. However, when teams are distributed globally, navigating cultural differences adds an extra layer of complexity. This calls for a nuanced approach to ensure that business practices place a high value on inclusivity and appreciation of diverse perspectives.

Here we discuss with experts: Jake White (Head of Sales, Offsite), Jess Morris (People Partner, Remofirst), and Angelica Krauss (Director of Marketing, Remofirst) the essentials of creating a strong company culture, as well as how to plan a meaningful, culturally sensitive, and inclusive company offsite event. If you would like to watch the full webinar version, you can find it here.

Creating a Strong Company Culture

For some businesses, business culture still equates to working full-time in an office. But just because people are sitting in cubicles doesn’t mean they feel connected to their employer, or each other. A strong company culture isn't born simply from a work environment where employees have physical proximity to one another. Instead, it’s created when team members know exactly what their company mission is, have clear objectives on what they need to accomplish, and understand how to contribute to the company’s common goals.

When building a culture it’s important to be mindful of diverse communication styles, especially in globally dispersed teams with different cultures. Platforms like Slack play a vital role in keeping employees connected to one another, but can also lead to misunderstandings if everyone is not on the same page. For example, cultural norms may come into play in both the timing and content of messages. Creating, say, a Slack communication guide helps bridge cultural sensitivity by spelling out best practices and expectations for all team members to follow.

Leveraging tools like Donut can help with building relationships and driving engagement across global business teams. This Slack tool randomly matches two coworkers who might not otherwise interact. The employees then schedule a 30-minute meeting to chat and get to know each other. It’s a great way to foster connections across departments (and different time zones), and give employees a chance to talk about things other than work.

Regular all-hands meetings can also enhance transparency and alignment, ensuring that remote team members feel connected and engaged, and understand company priorities and goals.

Keys to Planning a Successful Culture-Building Offsite

It’s important to understand the difference between creating a fun offsite, and a meaningful one. Sure, hiring Snoop Dogg to perform (like one company did) sounds like fun, but it’s unlikely it provided any real value. Instead of booking celebrities, companies should instead be focusing on planning an event that engages and inspires employees.

Here are five steps companies can use to help plan a meaningful offsite:

  1. Define your objectives and outcomes
  2. Tailor your activities to your company values
  3. Create inclusive planning for global teams
  4. Facilitate meaningful interactions
  5. Measure the impact

It’s also important to budget enough cash in order to create the best possible experience for your employees. On average, Offsite recommends spending around $2,500 to $3,000 per person for a three-night experience — inclusive of flights, hotel rooms, food, and swag.

It can be tempting to try to save money by asking employees to share rooms, but this approach will likely put off the majority of people. Everyone needs down time and rest, and that’s difficult to do if you’re bunking down with a co-worker. Give everyone the privacy of their own room.

One often overlooked budget line item is allocating money for an AV staff. Costs for microphones, speakers, projectors, etc., can add up fast, but are key to creating a good experience so your attendees can both see and hear the presentations.

Prioritize Employee Downtime

Companies should allocate a full travel day for people, and avoid scheduling events like a happy hour on the first night. Instead, the travel day should allow people enough time to arrive at the location and catch their breath before the offsite officially begins. There should also be plenty of rest breaks built into the schedule so staff can have some alone time to recharge.

Another pitfall to avoid is kicking off the day’s agenda too early. While some entrepreneurs may thrive on an early start to the day, not everyone is wired that way. If possible, don’t schedule activities any earlier than 9 a.m. (or later), and know that it’s also OK to end earlier in the day then you would on a typical work day. There's a lot of powerful moments that take place in downtime, when conversations aren’t forced.

When planning activities after 5 p.m., let employees know if they are mandatory. Some employees may prefer to curl up with a good book in their hotel room versus taking part in what they might consider “forced fun,” like karaoke. Let them know if the evening events are optional, and emphasize that there are no repercussions if they choose to skip that night’s entertainment.

Creating Accessibility & Inclusion

A key part of creating a meaningful offsite experience is adaptability to ensure that the event is accessible for everybody. This could include mobility assistance for an employee in a wheelchair, providing closed captioning for people who are deaf or hard of hearing, or translation services for staff who don’t speak English. It also means taking dietary requirements into consideration, including religious dietary needs.

Virtual elements can make the event accessible and inclusive for team members who aren’t able to attend in person. This could include real-time streaming sessions so employees who can’t make it can still follow along, and recording sessions so staff can watch them when it’s most convenient. Allocating funds for employees who can’t attend to use for fun activities in their own area can make them feel less left out, and foster a sense of belonging.

It’s also important to address the fact that not every employee is going to want to participate in each planned activity. For example, an employee who is sober or in recovery might want to avoid a night out at a bar. And a staff member who can’t swim probably won’t want to go white water rafting. Scheduling a variety of different events and allowing employees to pick and choose the ones that most resonate with them will help everyone to feel comfortable, and participate on their own terms.

The Role of Leadership at Offsites

Leadership plays a crucial role in setting the tone and creating alignment for offsite events, especially when it comes to structuring any teamwork exercises. When scheduling breakout sessions for small groups, leadership stakeholders should mix things up. For example, it makes sense to schedule time for individual teams to strategize together on issues that might be easier to collaborate on in person, such as how to streamline a particular workflow process. But, it’s just as important to also create small breakout teams of people who don’t typically interact to work together on a task or project.

It's essential for leaders to emphasize inclusivity and create opportunities for diverse voices to be heard. This includes not letting a handful of people dominate the conversation at the expense of more introverted team members. Everyone should feel like they are contributing, and that their ideas matter.

Creating Safe Spaces for Feedback

Encouraging open communication and creating the opportunity to provide feedback is crucial for building trust within the team. Ground rules should be set in advance for effective communication to ensure that all voices are heard and valued, regardless of cultural background or position within the organization.

Leaders also need to be receptive to receiving feedback. Planning an offsite can feel very personal, and if employees are sharing that there are ways it could have been better, it’s important that leaders don’t take it personally. The best way to receive feedback is to listen, acknowledge, and then thank employees for sharing.


Fostering a strong cross-border company culture with virtual teams requires deliberate effort, empathy, and a commitment to inclusivity. By implementing best practices, organizations can navigate cultural nuances, build thriving, cohesive teams regardless of geographical boundaries, and drive employee retention.