How to build an awesome remote work culture
Teams with strong connections are more motivated and better at collaborating. Here’s how to make sure your remote team flourishes.
Work culture can make or break any team. Building an effective remote team may mean a more hands-off approach in some areas, but it is vital to create a flourishing team environment.
Teams with strong connections are more motivated and better at collaborating: 60% of employees say that good team relationships had a major impact on their focus and productivity.
Trust, communication, and collaboration are key components of a motivated and productive remote team. In fact, according to research from Google, flourishing teams all have one thing in common, psychological safety: the belief that you won’t be punished for making a mistake.
Trust, Not Surveillance
Great teams are built on trust. Looking over your employees’ shoulders in the office can reduce their motivation and productivity. As a result, requiring the use of invasive employee monitoring software that records their screen or tracks their location sends the wrong message to team members.
Timekeeping and productivity may be a concern for managers new to remote working, but the average remote worker actually works 1.4 days a month more than office workers.
While time tracking software such as Toggl can be useful productivity tools, they should be used to enable better self-management, not stricter monitoring.
Educate employees about time management methods such as the Pomodorro technique and give them the tools to manage their own time. This establishes trust and helps them feel ownership of their contributions to the team.
Clear expectations are vital to creating trust within a remote team. Make sure to clearly communicate your expectations about:
- Hours per week
- Contact availability times
- Response times
- Task deadlines
It’s important to remember that remote teams may need more flexibility when it comes to scheduling expectations, as employees must factor their home life, family time and childcare into their daily timetables. In a widely-distributed remote team, time zones will also need to be considered.
Make Time To Connect
Working remotely doesn’t mean an end to your day-to-day work discussions. Keeping in touch with your team is vital for motivation, encouraging collaboration, and resolving roadblocks as a team.
“Disengaged workers had 37% higher absenteeism, 49% more accidents, and 60% more errors and defects.”
The difference is so pronounced that employees prefer workplace wellbeing to material benefits.
Humans are social animals, so this type of workplace wellbeing requires happy, healthy communication. Conversely, failing to make time to connect with your staff creates toxic, unpleasant work environments. They, in turn, breed unproductivity and disengagement.
Creating spaces where employees can create positive relationships. When working remotely, pick your communication tools for the job at hand. You’ll probably want to employ a mix to ensure the medium matches your message. Here are three tools to keep in mind:
Team messaging apps like Slack allow you to create channels about any topic, which means you can designate a public space for a social chat. You can even name your channel #thewatercooler!
Don’t worry if that chatroom becomes very busy: opportunities for socialising are critical to establish relationships and improve spontaneous collaboration. There are also a number of purpose-built apps for Slack that focus on building team culture, here is a list of 31 such apps.
Video calls are a mainstay in the remote era. You’ll need them for important conversations, but encourage your staff to get to know each other this way, too. Seeing someone’s face builds trust, and free-flowing conversation helps communicate nuanced information.
Online meetups, like Friday Zoom drinks, are a great way to replicate social events remotely. 19% of remote workers say that isolation is the biggest drawback of working from home, so it’s critical that your team get time to chat.
Creating social opportunities and having fun together is a vital part of forming bonds, maintaining morale, and job satisfaction. In bigger organisations, you might have enough people to create themed events, like book clubs, to unite people around a common interest.
HotDoc (a leading Australian health tech firm) that we’ve helped move to remote work recently announced their first Chief Silly Officer to keep the fun times rolling.
The golden rule is to make it genuinely fun, and don’t require your team to socialise after work hours. Also, beware of the dreaded Zoom fatigue, and get a sense of your team’s appetite for socialisation at the end of the week.
Remember, a lot of healthy socialisation is organic, rather than led by the manager.
While large face-to-face catch-ups are off the table at the moment, virtual offsites can provide a great forum to build relationships and re-engage on informal and strategic topics.
Nous Group (a 450 person strategic consulting firm with staff across Canada, UK, and Australia) recently held their all-staff ‘Nous Days’ virtually. Sally Pritchard, Nous’ Chief People Officer, noted that the virtual conference required,
“Clever thinking and a lot of hard work to develop and deliver a rewarding experience that brings Nousers together, drives performance and reinforces our culture.”
With the right team culture, remote work can be the most productive way to work. Creating an effective team environment requires an approach based on trust and communication. It is critical to have tools and processes in place that equip your team to work remotely.
Get creative, this is meant to be fun!
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