Remote teams are undoubtedly on the rise. The practice has been a popular one among smaller companies and startups for years now, but today even Fortune 500 companies are finding ways to use remote work to their advantage. Studies have shown that remote work is a boon to productivity while lowering stress. While there are many advantages to hiring employees for remote work, there are also some very serious challenges that companies face when they first begin to bring on remote teams. The most common struggle that companies have is replicating their in-office environment in remote team company culture.
One of the biggest mistakes that companies make in implementing remote team company culture is thinking that their remote culture has to be exactly like their in-office culture. The truth is that there will always be separate cultures for each, even if there are a lot of similarities between the two. This is because remote teams require their own unique approach to successfully facilitate culture and grow their team.
Here are a few tips for facilitating remote team company culture and creating a positive and communicative environment among teams that rarely meet face to face:
Choose Communication Tools that Facilitate Relationships
In remote teams, most of your team-building and collaboration will take place inside of apps rather than inside an office. Your chosen app will be responsible for fostering an environment where your teams can build camaraderie with one another. It’s one of the reasons why we have seen Slack become so popular among remote teams, and even in-office teams. Slack provides a low barrier to entry to group discussion that facilitates collaboration and helps remote employees get to know each other better.
But, there are many great tools out there for collaboration and Slack isn’t the perfect solution for every team. Regardless of the tool that you pick, you should choose tools that provide both simple and effective communication, along with project management that checks all of the boxes. In all likelihood, you’ll need two tools — one for communication, and one for managing your work.
Bake Team Building Directly into the Work
In an office, team building is an important concept. Even in a place where much of the relationship building happens unintentionally, high priority is still placed on team building in the world’s largest companies. So why then do so many remote teams completely overlook team-building exercises? In remote teams, finding ways to get your teams together for collaboration is even more important than in an office, but many companies fail to facilitate these interactions.
Part of the reason for this is that team-building with remote teams isn’t so straight-forward. You can’t just call everyone into the conference room and ask that they solve a complicated puzzle or do the “trust fall” exercises for the 20th time. Team-building in remote teams can be awkward. But, by building team-building activities into your workflows, you will find that over time your teams will collaborate more effectively and become closer as a result.
Simple policies like require a once-weekly video conference with the whole team can be a great way to get them face-to-face and communicating. Building brainstorming sessions into your production processes can be a great way to build their familiarity, too! Remote teams require constant interaction to get over that initial hump and begin working together solidly as a team.
Find the Balance Between In-Office and Remote Employees
Just because you have a team that works remotely doesn’t mean that they need to be treated differently from your in-office staff. Keeping your remote team completely separate from the in-office work processes is a mistake. You must make remote teams feel like they are equal footing with the in-office staff. Find opportunities for them to work together and mingle, even if it is just through a chat application like Slack.
In the same way that you bake team-building activities into your remote team workflows, try to find opportunities to do the same with your in-office employees and remote teams. In general, extend every opportunity that you can to remote teams to get acquainted with your office. They should be invited to your Christmas party too!
Leadership Matters in Remote Teams
When you manage remote teams, leadership is still an important component even though you aren’t meeting face-to-face on a daily basis. You still need someone competent that can set the standards and lead by example. Your remote team management should display all of the qualities that would be expected of your remote team employees — communicative, fun, involved, attentive, and hard-working.
Without the right leadership, it’s easy for remote teams to fall into ineffectiveness and complacence. You need the right people leading the team to set the pace and standards, which are a key component of creating a positive remote team company culture.
Your remote teams aren’t going to enjoy the same perks that would be enjoyed by an in-office team. They don’t get the morning donuts, chats by the coffee machine, or general camaraderie that are present in more traditional office environments. But, to really make your remote teams feel as if they are part of the team, you still need to get them together every so often. A great way to do this is to start offering yearly, or twice-yearly retreats for your remote teams. More dedicated companies get their remote teams together quarterly.
A yearly getaway to a cool vacation spot for a weekend can be something to look forward to and help your team build lasting relationships. Involve them in the process of choosing a getaway spot and try to find places that are as equidistant as you possibly can.
Building Remote Team Company Culture
Building a positive remote team company culture can be difficult. There are unique challenges that are just not present in a more traditional office setting. However, by working to find ways for your teams to collaborate and get to know each other, you can help to facilitate a culture that is all their own. Remote teams also require strong leadership, just like any other team. With focus and intentional planning, you can build a remote team company culture that reflects the values of your company, while providing a unique and fun work environment for your team.