How to Build a Strong Culture with a Remote Team
Tips for Building a Company Culture Remotely
When an organisation possesses a healthy culture, its people work in a positive and welcoming work environment. Work feels comfortable. Collaboration, innovation, and productivity rise, with all stakeholders rowing in the same direction.
Today, with so many of our workforces working remotely, it is even more important to build and maintain a culture that is strong. It’s easy to forget about our remote employees when we aren’t managing them face-to-face. Should we do so, it’s easy for them to start feeling alone and unloved.
A strong remote team culture should be built on the existing great company culture. It should help those working from home to feel connected to their work, their employer, and their colleagues. It should contribute to employee engagement and staff retention. And it should help to attract and hire stronger candidates.
In this article, we outline how to build company culture remotely with 15 tactics that leaders and managers can employ immediately.
4 Signs of a Healthy Remote Culture
Working from home was increasing before the Covid pandemic, but the shift has accelerated because of it. Does your organisation possess a healthy culture for its remote workers? Four signs that it does are:
- Workers are provided clear and well-managed expectations
- You use remote company communication tools, which are easy to use (and are being used)
- Communication is transparent and honest
- People work with a feeling of belonging and inclusion
With this foundation, an organisation can develop its positive remote working culture further.
How to build a team culture remotely
Building a formidable team culture can be challenging when team members are highly dispersed. For a culture-building strategy to be effective, an organisation should coach its leaders and managers to live and breathe the desired cultural behaviors, setting examples for their teams to follow.
Here are 15 tactics for building company culture remotely.
- Set a foundation of trust & psychological safety
- Prioritise effective communication
- Connect with employees on a personal level
- Help your remote team feel valued
- Be clear on expectations
- How KPIs will be measured and tracked
- Find creative ways to keep remote workers engaged
- Incorporate remote team-building activities
- Share your wins across the company
- Ensure communication happens across remote teams
- Hold daily check-ins
- Prioritise meaningful work
- Recognise individual success
- Provide opportunities for informal communication
- Create mentorship programs
When we build trust, we build a better relationship with one another. Without it, employees feel more vulnerable and anxious. This can lead to lower productivity and a higher chance of turnover.
Communication is a key aspect of enhancing a person’s life. Without effective communication, work will not get done and people will not feel connected
People are becoming increasingly comfortable with technology; however, some remote employees still feel a disconnect from their coworkers. To break down social barriers, take the initiative to create a Slack channel for all team members to communicate and connect, with each other and with their managers.
When managing a remote team, managers don’t have the opportunity to have impromptu chats with their employees. Consequently, they say ‘thank you’ less often. It’s crucial that managers ensure their team members feel valued, by making an effort to recognise and applaud contributions.
It’s essential to set clear expectations for remote workers. They need to know the exact task to complete, with specific deliverables.
While it’s easy to track KPIs when employees are in the same office or they’re using a traditional telecommunication service, it becomes much harder when they’re not physically present at work. It’s essential to be clear on how performance and progress will be measured and tracked.
Remote workers are more likely to be disengaged and bored when they have nothing to do. They may feel like they’re not contributing or developing if their tasks are too simple or repetitive, or if there is no opportunity for personal growth in their jobs. Leaders must develop creative engagement strategies that are more personalised to individual personalities.
Remote team-building activities can be used to help connections and improve collaboration and engagement. Such activities may include online quizzes and games, virtual reality games, video conferencing, and virtual meetings. These activities allow employees to spend time together in a different environment, and provide the opportunity for them to work on their own skills while building trust and camaraderie.
We all know that it is important to celebrate success, and there are many ways in which you can share your wins with other people. Celebrating wins is a wonderful way to show your team that you care and that they can trust you.
The importance of communication in remote teams cannot be understated. Collaboration across distance is essential not just for remote teams, but for all work environments. This means that effective communication tools are necessary, especially when the team members are separated by time zones or physical location.
However, it can be difficult to ensure that communication happens across remote teams. To overcome this challenge, companies must develop their communication culture and use technology effectively, setting clear communication guidelines to make sure everyone is on the same page.
Holding daily check-ins is a way to foster better remote work culture. This helps in creating a sense of community and accountability among the team members and gives managers of remote teams an opportunity to connect with their team members individually.
It’s crucial to prioritise meaningful work, personalised to individuals in remote teams.
One of the key aspects of success in remote teams is recognising individual success. By encouraging individual success, it is possible to encourage a positive culture in remote teams.
Communication is essential for a healthy and productive workplace. The social function of the water cooler should be replicated by providing ways for remote teams to ‘chat’ — and this also holds true for providing opportunities for team members to have informal communication with their managers.
Mentorship programs can be created by pairing up remote workers who have similar work styles or complementary skill sets, such as designers and developers. The mentor will help guide the less experienced worker while still giving them autonomy over their work tasks.
Signs your remote culture needs reworking
Is your remote team culture fit for purpose, or does it need reworking? How do you know?
Here are three telltale signs that your remote team culture is broken:
- Your team productivity is declining
- There’s a lack of activity in the tools you’re providing
- Team members aren’t taking breaks
Practical steps to get back on track
If you are experiencing any of the three signs of poor remote team culture, it’s crucial not to delay change. If you do, productivity is likely to fall further, and you risk your key team members leaving for your competitors.
Here are 7 things that organisations who wish to transform their remote working culture should be doing:
- Define what your remote team culture looks like
- Have a strong set of remote work policies
- Have an internal communications person
- Conduct feedback sessions regularly with remote teams
- Have an intentional meeting culture
- Have asynchronous communication options
- Re-evaluate and revamp your onboarding process
Your remote team culture is about how your employees work together. It’s the values, norms, and beliefs that you share. The best remote team cultures are centered around the core values of trust, transparency, and autonomy. These values don’t always manifest themselves in a specific set of standards or guidelines.
A strong set of remote work policies can make a significant difference in the success of your business. Establishing clear guidelines for remote employees will help you to maintain a healthy work environment, create productivity, and avoid conflicts. Ensure your policies are representative of the culture you wish to embed.
Having an internal communications person can be an asset in the workplace. With the flexibility of modern technology, and internal communications people can communicate with the entire company in a variety of ways, and help to ensure that all messaging is consistent across remote teams.
With the trend towards remote work comes the challenge of finding ways to keep employees motivated and engaged. One way to do this is through regular feedback sessions.
Design meetings to be engaging and productive, allowing all to have their say and none to dominate proceedings. Prepare for meetings, create a meeting process, and follow that process.
Don’t have meetings for the sake of having meetings, and send the agenda ahead of time. And set days when there will be no meetings.
Communication is a key component of the workforce, but it can often be distracting and inefficient. When employees need to be highly focused and undisturbed, provide asynchronous communication options.
There’s no question that onboarding is one of the most important stages of your business. The onboarding process is a crucial learning curve for any new hire. Traditionally, most businesses start their onboarding with an email blast, followed by a brief online orientation, and then finally a real-life walkthrough. However, recent research suggests that this outdated way of getting started isn’t effective in today’s modern world of remote work.
Does your organisational culture support your remote workforce?
Complete the Personal Values Assessment to get a comprehensive insight into your organisational culture.