If workplace culture is the set of foundational beliefs that govern workplace behavior, how does that work if your team isn’t in an office? About half of the American labor force is now work-from-home on a temporary or permanent basis. This makes it more challenging to establish, build, and sustain culture. Creating culture in remote teams is hard, but here are some ways to build remote work culture.
How to Build a Strong Culture in a Remote Team
Creating culture in remote teams requires a significant effort to build camaraderie across the distance. It’s so much easier to do this when everyone works together in the same space. Fortunately, modern technology enhances our ability to collaborate across hundreds, even thousands of miles. The days of having an office of cubicles, or even a head office, are gone; today’s teams are dispersed, regional, and even global.
This has given rise to new technologies to help teams collaborate as well as co-working spaces so that decentralized companies can have a place to work outside the home or meet as a group. There are very successful companies that have no office space at all. What’s their secret sauce for building culture while allowing and even embracing remote work?
The first step is to treat remote workers the same as in-house workers. This starts with a solid set of core values adopted by the entire team. These values can be reinforced on your website and during employee evaluations as well as during company events. Your hiring team can look for candidates that embody these values, and orientations can include discussion of why they matter. Getting everyone, no matter where they physically work, on the same page about your mission and what’s important to the company is a key component of building culture.
Creating an environment of open communication is critical to strengthening team culture. This includes encouraging feedback and transparency from everyone at every level. It’s easy to get participation from the loud person in the office, but what about the quiet remote worker? Make a special effort to ensure everyone is contributing, which will strengthen your culture. Cut back on any parts of your bureaucracy that thwart open communication between the team.
If you have remote workers, you should set some expectations on the kinds of channels you’ll use to communicate. For example, there are some types of meetings that should always include video so you can see the expression and body language of the people in the (virtual) room. If you’re using instant messaging, is that an appropriate vehicle to provide employee feedback? If your distributed team uses a variety of collaboration tools, what are the rules for how you use them?
Speaking of collaboration tools, remote culture benefits from interaction between your employees. Think about the old days of hanging out at the water cooler to have a discussion. Everyone recognizes that it is the back and forth camaraderie between employees that build company culture. But when your teams work remotely, how does this all work?
The answer is to set up communication channels that allow employees to share things that aren’t just about work. We’ve seen employee instant messaging channels that are devoted to outside interests like kids or pets. All of these things can help people collaborate on things that are near and dear to their hearts outside of work. These culture builders are critical to the bonds that teams form.
Make sure your teams are taking the time to get to know everyone. As new employees come on board, make sure they are introduced to the existing team so they feel more comfortable. It’s a bit more difficult when workers aren’t sitting elbow-to-elbow, but it’s by no means impossible.
Training your managers in practical ways to engage workers and encouraging them to get to know their employees is a good way to lead by example. You can also develop a mentoring program for new employees. Pairing up an existing employee with a brand new one is a smart way to keep culture going. Partnering internal employees with remote workers and then tasking the in-house worker with making sure the remote worker is included is an important way to keep culture flowing without leaving anyone out.
Finally, make sure your remote teams are always included in organizational events. Whether they are remote contract workers or in-house full-time employees, everyone is on the same team—but it’s up to you to make sure they’re also on the same page. If you have daily stand ups or weekly meetings, make sure everyone is invited and has a role to play. This gets trickier when organizations have workers that cross time zones, but it’s critical to include everyone in reporting and accountability as much as events that include rewards and praise.
Speaking of rewards and praise, you can build a stronger culture with your remote teams by focusing more on the carrot and not the stick. Reward your workers publicly and privately for their efforts. Make sure your praise of good work encompasses everyone on the team, no matter their location. Company culture always benefits from a rewards environment; just make sure your recognitions include everyone on the team.
You can do all of these things by embracing the technology that brings people together. What kinds of tools should your organization enable to make sure all your teams are working smoothly?
Best Tools for Creating Culture in Remote Teams
Today, we have so many ways to communicate; email, instant messaging, texting, video conferencing. Some of the best remote teams in the U.S. use MegaMeeting for video conferencing and chat. These tools are designed specifically to keep people collaborating, and they build remote work culture by allowing people the immediacy of instant communication.
But some types of employee communications require context beyond the written word. Video conferencing is the perfect venue that can allow “tone” beyond what’s written. Using MegaMeeting’s online video conferencing platform will allow people to recognize each other, as well as see facial expressions and reactions. This can help teams keep culture going even if their organization is entirely remote. Talk with our team today about how MegaMeeting can help you facilitate a better culture in your remote teams.
MegaMeeting solves the biggest challenges of modern video conferencing. For users, it is an all-in-one platform that delivers both video conferencing and webinars in a single, simplified interface. For attendees, it is 100% browser-based, making it highly accessible; joining a meeting is instantaneous from a single click. For enterprises, it is highly customizable, with white-labeling options for a private branded solution. For developers, it is API-driven and easy to integrate.
Powered by WebRTC, Node.js, React, and GraphQL, it is a cutting-edge platform that is fun and easy to use for users and developers alike.