Lydia Kothmeier, VP of Operations at enterprise CMS Storyblok explores how to maintain the professional and social structure of the office for employees – especially new industry entrants – in the new remote working world.

Without a doubt, Gen Z is well equipped to handle virtual work. Equally though, it’s important that business leaders do not overlook the importance of accounting for the traditional touch points and water cooler talks afforded by an in-person office environment.

Many of us who once worked in the traditional 9-5 office setup will remember what it was like. Yes, there might have been a punishing commute, distractions and a lack of privacy. But on the plus side it’s likely that there will have been impromptu chats, office banter and most importantly of all, access to mentoring from older colleagues and in-person collaboration.

In this way, while the business case for going fully remote in terms of productivity gains and employee satisfaction is well evidenced, getting it right requires a delicate balancing act between technology and people. It requires a human-centric remote working approach where each individual employee is understood, valued and heard. This becomes even more important for junior workers who will have missed out on some of the learnings afforded by the physical office and require new means and ways to forge a deeper connection with their colleagues, managers and the wider organisational ethos.

Storyblok is fairly unusual in that it has been fully remote since it was founded in 2017. We’ve grown to a team of 230+ people in 45+ countries, and have a proven track record in providing a nurturing, progressive workplace for new industry entrants – amongst our 35 junior team members many joined us straight out of university or school. This has meant we’ve had to spend a lot of time developing processes and policies that fit remote work, and employing technology to create a happy and productive team –  of all ages and levels of experience.

Here’s how to build a fully remote business that supports entry-level employees in the academic to professional transition:

Remote culture

One of the biggest challenges when transitioning to a remote work setup is maintaining company culture. How, after all, is it possible to account for those all-important ‘watercooler’ conversations, work socials or impromptu catch ups, all of which are not only key for relationship building but can be a breeding ground for new ideas? This is especially important for entry-level employees who may not feel as tight-knit in the workplace community.

Here it’s important to curate a culture which is inclusive and nurturing. Fully remote or hybrid working requires a level playing field where everyone feels like they are equally involved and engaged. This means your main drivers of culture must be able to be delivered at a distance and equally distributed. You cannot favour people in the office over everyone else. Instead, culture should revolve around self-empowerment and autonomy.

At Storyblok our diversity helps define our culture. Team projects include creating a cookbook or restaurant guide that covers food and locations all over the world, where our team is based. Similarly, everyone is encouraged to share their cultural traditions and holidays so we can celebrate them all together. We also try to help people interact on a more personal and individual level. We organise physical events where team members lead a fitness session and regular informal team events. We also organise randomised ‘coffee chats’ where people speak for 30 minutes to their colleagues in different teams. This enables people to break the ice with people they may not get the chance to regularly interact with.


Another challenge is management, especially for entry-level starters. With some nuances lost through technological communication, we recognise that it can be daunting for junior employees to be left to decipher requests through short instant messages or email without the opportunity to connect with their co-workers in person for clarity.

To address this, we build an async onboarding journey that includes videos, content to read, first little tasks and meetings to arrange. After the onboarding we have applied a VSEM concept that should give everyone an overview of the companies Vision, Mision and Strategy. We break these goals done for teams and individual team members. In regular check-ins we go through the goals and ask where they are. For younger team members it can also help to have a meeting at the beginning of the week and define the weekly tasks and review them at the end of the week together. Communication can happen via Slack, recorded videos or meetings.

We want to avoid micromanagement and don’t believe daily meetings are needed to evaluate the performance. Good managers will know who is performing as they focus on the result. How they achieve the goal is open, as there are different paths to achieve them. Making more data-driven assessments of performance can help to take human bias out of the equation.  For example, some managers may subconsciously favour in-house team members they talk to face-to-face and reward them accordingly. Relying more on the hard facts (achieved goals, met deadlines, met KPI) can remove this danger and also help with diversity and inclusion.

Alongside this it’s important to create a systematic approach to checking in on your team’s health and wellbeing. You do not want anyone falling through the cracks and it is very easy for a remote worker to suffer in silence – especially a younger employee who may not have the confidence yet to speak up. Vigilance is key. Care about them, ask them how they are, create an environment of trust, listen to them, make sure they don’t do too much overtime and they take off. All of that can be done in regular check-ins with your team.

Tech stack

Technology has a huge role to play in enabling your hybrid or remote startup to work efficiently and productively. From day one, we invested in Notion, Slack, top end IT equipment such as webcams, microphones, headphones, G-Suite, Salesforce and simple time savers such as DocuSign.

We developed policies and training to ensure they were used how we intended. It’s easy enough to buy a shiny new platform but actually getting people to adopt and embrace it requires discipline and diligence. The leadership team needs to set the example by being consistent, and onboarding processes for new arrivals need to provide plenty of training so people understand not just how to use collaboration tools but why they are used.

We use Zavvy to support onboarding and learning journeys. One week before joining staff receive all their equipment, an intro to the team and a tutorial on the tools we use. Then, for one month, they go through a general onboarding process to meet everyone, learn processes and get to grips with their job. We also assign a “buddy” and an onboarding manager to help support new hires and quickly answer any questions they have.

We also utilise bambooHR for performance reviews. In the performance review we request feedback from team members and give the manager a chance to give feedback and the team member. It is a safe space where people allocate time to discuss the current situation and future growth potential of  team members. The mid-year and annual-review helped me as a manager to improve my collaboration with the team as we work in a fast changing environment and every team member needs an individual management style. The performance review setup in our HRIS enables managers a well-rounded approach which is fair and unbiased.

Big benefits

Potential challenges aside, the reality is that no other generation is perhaps better equipped for remote working than Gen Z. Plus, with benefits that include increased opportunity, better diversity and internationalisation, there’s a lot to be gained for those joining the new remote working world. That said, it’s important that those businesses operating on a remote basis do not overlook the importance of helping new entrants to form close relationships, build confidence, learn from others and establish themselves professionally.