How leaders can promote a positive culture with their remote teams
Having trouble with your remote team? Here’s how to lead a pack of strong and highly inspired remote teams that results in higher productivity and profit.
Hiring remote workers has many benefits for businesses and organizations. Aside from saving on costs, employers are given access to a wide talent pool, lower operational costs, reduced turnover, extended business hours, among others.
However, there are also downsides. Hiring remote teams may impede organizations from implementing their company culture. As a result, it lacks employees from coming together and engaging with team-building activities, company-wide meetings, and oftentimes teams can be disjointed.
Sometimes, remote workers might develop feelings of isolation which can cause anxiety.
Why hire remote workers
Thanks to technological advancements, the global working environment began a massive shift in the last decade or so. Everything is accelerating faster than ever. Working in cubicles, and centralized organizations are becoming obsolete.
Today, coworking spaces and work-from-home are becoming more popular. The flexibility of working remotely is changing how work is done on a global scale. In fact, some of the really successful companies are no longer using physical offices and choose to have their entire workforce work remotely.
Hiring remote workers leads to higher productivity. Remote workers tend to get more things done. That’s because they have fewer distractions and the work gives them more of a more work-life balance. This leads to happier workers.
The key to running a successful remote team is to foster a positive culture within your organization. As a manager or business owner, you must communicate this principle to the entire organization.
More reason why you need to employ remote workers
Research shows that working remotely leads to more happiness, productivity, and overall well-being of employees. An article from Harvard Business Review featured an experiment in a Chinese call center. Employees were given the choice to either work from home or at the office for nine months.
Researchers gathered survey responses and performance data both in the office and employee’s homes. After nine months, the data showed that those who are working from home are happier, more productive, and less likely to quit their jobs.
Moreover, in an article from Monster, the author shows that the benefits aren’t exclusive for the employees alone. In fact, the company does too! Here are some of the benefits of remote workers from Global Workplace Analytics:
- Lowers unscheduled absences
- Increased productivity
- Boosts employee satisfaction
- Gives you access to a wider talent pool
- Save on operational and labour costs
- Eliminates wasted meetings
- Fosters effective collaboration
It’s obvious that there are many benefits to hiring remote workers. These benefits include both parties.
Here’s how you can promote a positive culture with your remote teams
Create company values
Creating a set of company values that you uphold and feel by your employees can potentially boost company culture. This is because culture takes a positive turn when values are erected and followed. However, the key to success in creating a set of company values that resonates is to include your entire team in the process.
Communicate your company’s culture with everyone
You want to make sure that you communicate your company’s culture to everyone including remote team members. This is to make sure everyone understands what to expect and expected of them.
But make sure the values that you have written are inspirational, clear, and well-written. It will ensure that everyone will immediately grasp the message including new team members. This is very essential since you’re embracing minimum or no face-to-face conversation between team members.
Publish it in public
More and more companies are starting to publicize their company values. The most popular example is Netflix. It read,” Freedom and Responsibility.” This is what Reed Hastings, CEO, and Founder did back in 2009. This is the best example of a great way to publicize the culture of your company that you’re working hard for.
Also, you might want to consider putting up a culture deck that you can share with everyone online.
Welcome new team members in front of the whole team
Just like working in a regular office setting, when a new hire is coming in you would want him or her to feel welcome. This also works with remote team members. While it works in a number of ways, probably the most effective with a remote team can be through an email.
Get your entire team via email together with the new hire. Your email should read:
I’d like you to meet Christine. She’s our new marketing team member. Christine lives in the UK. She’ll be working for us remotely and I’d like you to know that she has five years of experience in the marketing space and we believe that she can help us reach our goals this year.
Her username is @christine, and if you need anything from her, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
As everyone here already knows I asked all of you five questions before you get onboard. So, for Christine, she needs to answer this just like everyone else.
- Describe yourself in 100 words.
- Favourite movie and why?
- The last book you read?
- How do you spend your time relaxing?
- If you were given a chance to become a superhero, who would you be?
Please everyone, I want you to welcome Christine moving forward and help her with everything she would need.
Thank you and best regards.
Likewise, encourage the new hire to have one-on-one meetings with other team members. This is a great way to make them feel comfortable. It also works with people who they don’t report to, or in different departments.
Encourage open communication and accept feedback
Open communication promotes transparency. Likewise, team communication is essential for any organization. The key is to encourage everyone to contribute and not just depend on extroverts alone. Oftentimes, introverts have great ideas that you need to hear.
Eliminate red tape and formalities in your communication. This will encourage employees to share their thoughts and insights which is very healthy for your team and the whole organization.
Set expectations with your communications practices
You have to set the tone and the right topics when setting expectations for your team to communicate with. This works best if you want every legal or serious documentation to be sent via email for cloud-file server and casual discussions via Slack or Skype.
You can also set most of your discussions on communication tools like desktop apps or browser-based. Oftentimes, keeping the tab open will help open the communication which results in a cohesive and collaborative work environment.
Encourage the water cooler effect
Do you see employees gather around the water cooler in the office and chat? This is similar when people gather and connect in specific locations. This is where they talk about their favourite tv shows and guessing what would happen in the next episode. This is what the water cooler effect is.
You should encourage this even with your employees working remotely. Slack is a good platform to get started. But make sure you create a channel for this purpose. Also, set sensible ground rules.
Get to know everyone
It’s easier to know someone if you are both working together in the office. You always get a sense of their personality and character. However, this is a challenge when you’re working with a remote worker.
But you can achieve this through informal discussion at the water cooler channel. You can even organize a company-wide survey on their favorite foods and movies. Try to do this through a game. Remember, simple and fun activities will help foster positive company culture even with remote team members.
Measure remote employees’ engagement
Formal quarterly surveys and monthly email updates from every team member will help you measure employee engagements. Even employee pulse surveys are a great way to realize the sentiment of everyone on your team.
But I suggest that you don’t focus too much on work-related discussions. You can ask them about their general happiness, their mood, and what makes them will ease any feeling of isolation and this improves communication.
Especially employee pulse surveys will help a lot when getting the sentiments of your employees.
An added bonus: Virtual team-building exercises to promote a positive working environment
Remote team members don’t have the luxury of socializing with coworkers. That being said, they don’t have the chance to really know other employees they are working with on a daily basis. This often creates a feeling of isolation from colleagues that could result in team conflict or a decrease in productivity.
On the other hand, virtual team-building exercises can help remote team members overcome these hurdles. It can help build rapport, boost open communication, and foster understanding with coworkers.
To ensure you get seamless and productive remote working employees, here are some virtual team-building exercises you can apply in your organization.
1. Virtual office olympics
Online office games include some spirited challenges, games, and of course team-building activities. Some of the best examples are Go Get It lightning scavenger hunts and ‘can you hear me now’ which is very good to sharpen communication with your team.
Online office games are some of the most energetic, highly collaborative, spirited, and competitive team-building activities that could be very effective when you have a remote team.
The truth of the matter is, it’s one of the most popular virtual team-building activities known in the corporate world.
2. War of the Wizards
This is a role-playing and a storytelling game especially made for virtual team building activity. It’s a little wacky but a very fun game to play. The game can be played via Zoom and often ends in about 90 minutes.
3. Online Team Bingo
Online Team Building Bingo is often called Remote Work Bingo. It’s a fun game to play during conference calls.
4. Virtual Show And Tell
This is a simple team building game that improves your team’s public speaking and storytelling skills. The game involves each team member sharing their life experiences. It’s a great way to build meaningful relationships with team members.
5. Tiny Campfire
This is one of the most famous virtual team building games today. It’s an excellent way to engage remote teams with actual small campfires. It’s a fun, very engaging, and nostalgic game for remote teams.
It’s a favourite to some of the big companies like Uber, Google, Squarespace, CVS, and even with the US Department of Homeland Security.
Author: Mia Turlington