The rise of the internet and advances in technology have made it possible for more and more employees to work remotely. According to a report from Flexjobs, 3.9 million U.S. employees (2.8% of the workforce) worked from home at least half of the time in 2017. Today, that number is up to 58% - Welcome to a new future.
While working from home has its perks—no commute, more flexible hours, etc.—it can also be isolating and make it difficult to feel connected to co-workers and the company culture. This is why it's important for managers of remote teams to put extra effort into creating a strong culture for their team. Here are a few tips for doing just that.
1. Define Your Culture
The first step in creating a culture for your remote team is to define what that culture should be. What values do you want your team to uphold? What kind of work environment do you want to cultivate? How do you want your team members to interact with each other and with clients? Answering these questions will help you create a framework for your remote team's culture.
2. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate
Once you've defined your remote team's culture, it's important to communicate those values and expectations to your team members. Make sure everyone is on the same page about what is expected of them and what the team's goals are. Overcommunicating at the beginning will help avoid misunderstandings and conflict down the road.
3. Look Around, Talk to a Neighbor
Don't keep your teams siloed. If you haven't noticed, there's no cafeteria or water cooler in Slack. It's very easy when working remotely to fall into the habit of only communicating with your direct team. You need to foster and encourage interaction laterally across your organization. Sales needs to work with design. Design needs to collaborate with marketing. Be very careful of everyone staying too focused and not aware of what everyone else is working on.
4. Encourage Interaction and Collaboration
In order for your remote team to gel, it's important to encourage interaction and collaboration between team members. Make sure everyone has a way to easily communicate with each other and schedule regular check-ins so everyone can stay up-to-date on what others are working on. You might also want to consider holding periodic team-building exercises or events so everyone can get to know each other better outside of work. These can be done via Zoom, but ideally you gather your team 2-4 times per year at a location like Offsite.
Remote Work Works.
Creating a strong culture for your remote team is essential for its success. By taking the time to define your team's culture, communicating those values to your team members, and encouraging interaction and collaboration, you'll set your team up for success now and in the future. Remote teams are not only possible, they can be more efficient, more creative and more aligned than a typical office...you just have to put in the effort to make it work.