How to build a strong company culture with a remote team
It’s all too easy to assume that a remote team is a disconnected team, but that doesn’t have to be the case. And, considering the many employee benefits that come hand-in-hand with working from home, it’s vital that employers start to acknowledge that the future is very much digital, and that building a strong company culture is possible, even with everyone working remotely.
If you are new to remote and hybrid work, you might be trying to find ways to create a great environment for your employees to thrive. We gathered a few easy tips that will help you build a strong company culture with a remote team.
Communication is the key to building a successful remote team
One of the most effective ways to achieve this feeling of connection is by keeping the lines of communication open. While you don’t want everyone to feel tethered to their desks (flexibility is, after all, one of the perks of working remotely), it’s essential to hold regular check-ins. To this end, it might be worth setting some core hours (many companies opt for an 11 am - 3 pm system) so that people know when to be online for meetings, training sessions and catch-ups. And why not set up a weekly company-wide meeting, to keep people abreast of any important updates and offer them a chance to share any exciting developments with their colleagues, too?
Promote non-corporate communication
While we’re on the subject of communication, it’s worth looking into some professional instant messaging systems. Whether you prefer Slack, Google Messenger, or something else entirely, having a way for colleagues to chat that isn’t over email is a great way to keep a remote team feeling connected. And, while a strong company culture is dependent on people being able to get hold of one another when they need to, it’s also about the little things; set up some groups or conversation threads for your workers to talk to each other about something that isn’t work-related; their families, what they’re having for lunch, the last good book they read, or the great TV show they’re hooked on right now. You want to have that great water cooler chat – sans the physical water cooler!
Live and breathe your company’s values
A strong company culture stands on your core values – if those are not clear, it will be difficult to create a story and a culture that every one of your employees will get on board with.
Once you have your values and goals set, as a leader you have to make sure that you always embody them. For example, if one of your values is freedom and flexibility you might want to make sure that you give your employees the freedom and flexibility you feel so strongly about. If one of your values is sustainability, you’d have to show that your business is doing something about its carbon footprint – and so on.
Focus on mental health
Working from home can be challenging depending on people’s situations. Make sure you actively check that your employees have everything they need to work safely and create a safe environment for them to share how they are feeling.
Showing that you care is also a great way to improve an employee's mental health. For example, birthdays usually call for cake and a singsong in a typical office setting, so be sure to create a virtual tradition for your remote team. Mark special occasions with a pizza delivery or a card in the post and make sure you make a splash about it in any video calls or virtual chats, too. And try to treat Fridays as you would IRL, as well; whether that looks like finishing early, or grabbing a digital lunch/drinks together, you want to make workers feel valued and like their free time matters.
Recognize employees' efforts, not just the result
Rewarding hard work is always a good idea, no matter how your business is set up. You can foster an even stronger company culture, though, by having staff nominate their star teammate of the month - and give the lucky winner a shout out (and a prize, maybe) in a company-wide video meeting, but make sure that everyone gets a chance to have a shout-out!
It’s important to celebrate not only the clear wins and great results but also the efforts – no matter the outcome. For example, if one of your employees went above and beyond to complete a project but the results are not as expected, make sure that they don’t live that as a complete failure.
Welcome your team’s ideas and feedback
Above all else, foster a company culture that promotes honest feedback, from both employers and employees. If everyone can voice their opinions, and if everyone feels heard, they’re far more likely to feel part of a strong company culture.
Making your employees feel that their ideas and thoughts matter to you will create a stronger relationship and a positive environment for everyone to thrive.
Offer mentors at all levels
Assigning mentors is a great way to keep your remote workers connected – and, if you ensure people are paired up with people from other teams, it will help keep that strong company culture thriving.
Sometimes it only takes a bit of mentoring for someone to gain more confidence and become an even stronger asset to the team. Nevertheless, mentoring is something that will benefit your employees not only professionally but also personally, which will create a stronger bond between them and the company.
Organise bonding events
Whether they are held virtually or in person, team-building events are a great way to know your colleagues better and create connections that (in some cases) will last a lifetime.
Having a fun chat on Slack or a coffee over Zoom is great to keep in touch but enjoying a day filled with laughter together is priceless to really feel like a team. From karting to pottery classes, there are infinite things that you can organise for your team that will make your company culture stronger. The first rule to follow is to make sure that you are inclusive and that everyone can participate and have a good time. The second rule is… have fun!