2020 was the year of remote working. But, it isn’t going anywhere now that the pandemic is receding. For many companies, remote work is becoming a new best practice. Which means a change in the way we manage and motivate ourselves to excel.
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Why Is Culture Important For Remote Teams?
According to Microsoft, over 65% of employers globally are changing the workplace to accommodate flexible work arrangements. This allows for a hybrid of remote working and in-office, which has been received well by employees - especially the younger generation. In fact, according to a recent survey, a flexible schedule is more important to Millennials and Gen X than a higher salary.
The world's biggest companies recognize that their employees don't need to be in the office all the time to produce results. Research shows that remote employees are up to 40% more productive than their office co-workers.
Whether you are intentional about setting the culture or not, your company will grow around something. If you want to control the narrative, you need to take the reins early. Impart your vision early so your team knows what they should strive for.
Ryan Bethem, Co-founder of Chintai says, “Drawing on my background as a licensed mental health practitioner in California, instilling a productive company culture is one of the most fulfilling parts of my job as COO of a global fintech company. Whether remote or not, the role of culture in any company is critical. Companies succeed and fail based on culture."
How To Grow A Positive Company Culture With A Remote Team?
Agree on your communication rules, the methods of communication you will use, and align your remote team with your company values. A digital hangout platform provides your employees with a place to communicate, encouraging teamwork and team-building. Hold weekly meetings, clarify goals, highlight successes, and communicate.
CEO and Founder of Camplify, Justin Hales, says: "Many people have been working from home for the past 18 months. We encourage our own team at Camplify to experience van life and see incredible landscapes, visit local communities, and spend a few nights under the stars as part of our flexible approach to work."
Remote Team Building Activities
Remote worker and editor of Think Remote, Dimitar Karamarinov, says: "Remote work is the new standard for normal, and we see a growing and urging corporate need to find, implement, and refine processes, practices, and innovations to keep teams engaged and in-sync. To cut off various office costs is a great relief on the company budget. Still, neglecting team spirit gave birth to the lone worker's syndrome, and that is a sacrifice to not only productivity and results, but happiness."
Virtual Team Trivia
Gather your team, onsite and remove, on a group video chat and unwind with a happy hour of trivia and fun. It's an hour-long hosted game and it's available for teams from five right up to 500.
Through The Keyhole
What better way to get to know your team and for them to get to know each other than with a little peek through the keyhole? Allow each team member to film a short video of their favorite things or spots in their house. This is perfect for smaller teams and is a great team-building exercise. Every meeting can start with one share until everyone has had their turn.
Desert Island Challenge
You can play this two ways — the traditional way of what three items they would choose to take to live on a desert island. Or, you can provide them with a list of items from which they can choose just three. It's fun, but it also forces them to plan and use their critical thinking skills. Alternatively, create teams and let them work on it together.
Examples Of Companies Creating A Positive Virtual Environment
On Firstup’s Cruising Altitude podcast, Brady Dale, Deputy Chief Human Capital Officer at NASA, said they have built a very collaborative virtual culture. “So what you see is people’s meeting calendars are filled. We’re constantly talking with one another, meeting with one another, and we’re very intentional by keeping that going — in this virtual environment, staying connected and having that sense of team.”
Toptal works with freelancers and recognizes it is a culture that contributes to and prevents success. How do you build relationships with people you don't see daily? Video calls to help make emotional connections.
Buffer relies on instant messaging to connect their remote workers. That said, they set limits on it, so employees aren't forced to respond 24/7. They have agreed on expectations to allow their team a healthy work-life balance.
Zapier has remote workers all over the globe. It means they can recruit the best of the best, but it also means multiple time zones. Instant messaging allows workers to communicate with those online simultaneously, but they also have weekly meetings to plan calls for different time zones.
Lessonly is crushing it. Not only do they have weekly meetings with the entire team, but they also fly remote workers in to meet the team IRL. While it isn't necessary for success, it's a nice touch to help the team build more meaningful connections.
Tools And Ideas
So, what tools and ideas can help you foster connections and build a successful team? There are plenty out there, but let's focus on just three for now.
- Nectar: This makes it easier for your remote team to build connections and collaborate. Not only is it a great spot to bridge the gap between office and remote workers, but it also lets you celebrate your team. Nectar can dispense digital gift cards, and more and you don't need to do a thing.
- Slack: A desktop chat tool, Slack offers you a digital headquarters for your team to communicate, collaborate, and organize their workload. It offers a workflow builder, file sharing, video chat, text chat, and more.
- Every Time Zone: If your remote team is scattered worldwide, you need a handy tool to keep track of time zones. Not only will it help you choose the right person for the right job, but it will help you maintain boundaries.
It doesn't matter where your team is located in the world, and we're all just people at the end of the day. By offering them support and including them in your team, you ensure you get the best from them — the same way you do for an in-person team.