Many of today’s leading companies build distributed teams. Similarly, remote teams have become the new normal.
The appeal of distributed and remote teams is clear. Businesses can:
utilize global talent
cover multiple time zones
scale more efficiently
cut costs substantially
Specifically, remote teams are also more convenient. If implemented correctly, building a remote team can improve productivity, lower operating costs, and boost employee satisfaction.
With these benefits in mind, it comes as little surprise that so many businesses want to test remote teams. But as with any big change, taking employees out of the traditional work environment can lead to significant challenges — especially as it pertains to company culture.
Build culture in a remote team
The key is to maintain a thriving company culture in the wake of reaching beyond the restrictions of a cubicle. It begs the question, “How can we foster a sense of community when employees are rarely, if ever, in the same place at the same time?”
In the absence of a physical workspace with an inherent community, it’s important to shift focus and create a virtual community.
1. Adopt the right community tools
Adopt the right platforms and tools that reflect your vision for the community and employee experience you want to create. Use tools that improve collaboration and enable fluid communication. Also, take necessary security precautions and utilize backup solutions.
For example, Zapier shares: “Slack is our virtual office. If you’re in Slack then you’re at work. It’s the online version of the water cooler. Where random work discussions happen, but also where news, jokes and pop culture are bantered back and forth.”
Tools that enhance and improve workflow are certainly a no-brainer. Yet, it’s equally important to pick the tools that are the best match for the atmosphere you aspire to create.
As long as workflow, collaboration and communication are strong, the virtual community is easy to navigate. And all of these things can help employees build internal relationships.
2. Keep remote employees in the loop
Added complications can arise if part of your team is remote, while others work from the main office.Far too often, in these cases, remote employees feel like they are overlooked and not a part of the team at large.
When you manage a hybrid of on-site and remote employees make sure to level the playing field. Build rapport with everyone and schedule meetings or informal conversations when all parties are available. Make sure remote employees are in the loop. It may feel excessive, but your company culture will benefit from it.
3. Make remote employees feel valued
At the same time, one way to improve the remote work experience is to include remote employees in major company decisions. Create an atmosphere that invites input and feedback.
Employees like to know they have a say in how the company operates. It helps them invest in something bigger than themselves. Meanwhile, it sends a clear message of collaboration.
4. Hold in-person meetups
If you want to create a thriving company culture for your remote team, physical meetups should be a part of the plan. If remote employees live close to each other, hosting casual meetups can build deeper connections. Give your remote team opportunities to have fun and get to know each other outside of work.
If everyone is spread out geographically, plan an annual company retreat. Provide the chance for people to see each other in person. This will help them get to know the “username” they interact with … a living human being.
Remote teams certainly present a fair share of challenges. However, the can also provide incredible opportunities. A thriving company culture can be difficult to enact, but once started, it can help a small business flourish. These are just a few tips that can prove useful as you create culture in your own remote work environment.
This article has been edited.