An animation of workers being happy from their jobs
How the company is fostering a work environment where every kind of employee feels valued

Rural Computer Consultants (RCC) was founded in 1979 by two brothers who were hoping to create a solution that would help their father’s propane business. One software package and 45 years later, the business has grown with over 70 employees and another sister joining its ownership team.

The business is now in a transition between the first and second generation, but one thing remains the same: RCC puts a large emphasis on its family-feel culture. The company does its best to make sure employees feel like family. RCC’s staff is encouraged to share their opinions and thoughts, acknowledging that the newest person in the company has as much right to speak up as the most tenured employee. Though not every suggested change is made, the company takes into account and allows space for employees’ thoughts and opinions.

With the growth of the company has also come challenges — one of those being more remote workers. The year 2020 opened the doors to all of the possibilities for remote workers. With that comes the challenge of making sure they still feel like a part of RCC’s work family. Perhaps your company is in a similar situation right now.


A few things RCC strives to accomplish include:

  • Cameras on for meetings: RCC encourages everyone to use cameras for meetings — even those in the office — because putting a face to a name makes everything feel more personal.
  • Messages of encouragement: The company also uses a software that allows staff to send points and words of encouragement back and forth to each other. They can then turn in those points for a reward. It’s another way to make everyone feel included.
  • Birthday cards: Lastly, RCC sends handwritten birthday cards that include a small monetary gift to everyone in the company. Remote staff have theirs mailed to them. It’s a way to show employees they are cared for.

A company get together

RCC also tries to hold a few company gatherings each year for those near its headquarters in Bird Island, Minnesota. In the past, groups have attended the Renaissance Festival, went to TopGolf, played a round of golf at a local club or enjoyed time together at a local brewery. RCC now holds an annual tradition called the HalloThankMas party. Combining Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas gives the team the flexibility to host a company gathering any time in the fall or winter. Depending on the year and peoples’ schedules, this gives employees the option to gather in October or later in December.

Coworkers at an in-person holiday event
To help foster a connected environment outside of remote work, employees at Rural Computer Consultants enjoy in-person events to build camaraderie.

A team from the company plans the event, and all employees go home with a prize and a Christmas gift. It culminates in an amazing evening where employees can relax and celebrate the year that flies by more quickly with each trip around the sun.

Another piece of RCC family culture that is a real benefit to staff is the flexible work schedule. If employees have appointments or family events during work hours, they can start their days earlier to make up for that time or stay a bit later. Working through lunch might be an option or just making up the time a different day. Flexibility is key.

One other thing RCC has done to help employees is give out what it calls “Christmas coupons.” Each year, employees are given a “one-hour sleep-in coupon,” “one-hour leave early coupon,” “one full mental health day coupon,” etc. Essentially, it’s an extra 10 to 12 hours of paid time off on the company for employees to use as they see fit.

The coupons have been popular with staff, especially those with young families who may use their PTO for days spent with sick children or if they don’t have childcare for any reason. This feels like extra time they can hopefully use to do something for themselves.

At the end of the day, employees want to know they’re cared for as people. There is so much to life beyond work. The work will always be there, but the people might not be. RCC tries to encourage staff to remember that and take the time off that they need.

There will be times that employees experience the lowest of lows and may need extra time off. It’s important for employers to be there with them through it — just as much as they would through the highest of highs.

Employees are people beyond the four walls of the office and the eight-hour shift of the job. Take care to make sure they know that and that you truly care.

Holly Peterson is head of people for RCC and is part of the second-generation ownership group. She is frequently the “proofreader and grammar fixer” for her coworkers, so writing an article like this felt like a good fit. In her spare time, Peterson enjoys spending time with her two children: 6-year-old Owen and 4-year-old Emma. Peterson can be reached at


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