A strong workplace culture is essential for any organization, but it can be especially challenging to build and maintain with a remote team. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many companies to adopt remote work, and while this arrangement has its benefits, it can also lead to feelings of isolation and disconnection. Employee engagement and communication are key to maintaining a strong workplace culture, even when everyone is working remotely. Here’s how to build a strong culture with a remote team with a few key things to ensure that your remote team feels engaged and connected.
1. Communication is a priority
Whether you use video conferencing, chat apps, or even good old-fashioned phone calls, regular check-ins with your team members will help everyone feel like they’re part of the same workplace culture when working remotely. Ensure employees feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and ideas, even if they are not face-to-face. Encourage regular check-ins and allow for plenty of time for questions and discussion. Holding regular office hours as well for employees to virtually ‘drop in’ is also encouraged, as it allows employees to not feel as formal when wanting to stop by for a chat.
2. Create opportunities for connections
Although employees may not be able to interact with each other physically, there are still ways to create opportunities for connection as a remote team. Regular social events, team-building exercises, an online book club, and even virtual coffee breaks can help coworkers feel like they are part of a community. Great tools for remote work and creating connections are conferencing platforms like Zoom or Google Hangouts. Team members can get to know each other better and feel more connected by sharing personal stories, playing games, or simply chatting casually about non-work-related topics. Has anyone seen Inventing Anna?! Wow, what a scandal!
3. Make sure everyone feels included
With a remote team, it’s essential to go out of your way to ensure that everyone feels included and heard. This means being conscious of time zone differences when setting up meetings, as no one wants a video call at 9 pm. Also, ensure you connect with employees who may not be as engaged or mentally checked out. If you feel someone on your team is pulling away, set up a 1-1 and see how you can support and share their missed contributions and voice during team meetings.
4. Promote employee autonomy
As a remote team, encourage employees to take ownership of their work and make decisions that impact their job satisfaction. This will help to foster a sense of ownership and responsibility among employees and promote engagement and motivation. Encourage your employees to choose their hours, work from various locations and take breaks when needed. Of course, not everyone may have this flexibility given their personal situation, but encouraging everyone to work in a way that prioritizes them and their work is a win-win for everyone.
5. Don’t forget to show your appreciation for your team’s hard work
A little recognition can go a long way in making everyone feel valued and appreciated, which helps build a strong culture. From a shoutout in a company meeting to a team appreciation lunch, taking the time to say thank you is so key. In remote work, not everyone has the opportunity to pass one another in at the shall say “great job,” so intentionality is the key ingredient to ensuring you are showing your team a little extra love.
6. Celebrate diversity
Remote teams are often more diverse than traditional workplace teams, so it’s important to celebrate and embrace this diversity. As a remote team, create a slack or chat channel to encourage employees to share their favorite foods, movies, and holidays in a personal way. To help build a team culture, each employee can pick a month to share and celebrate a holiday that is important to them. They can share stories and traditions and invite others to learn and participate as well.