Creating a strong company culture for teams working remotely is challenging, but necessary. Here are five tips for successfully building your team’s culture.
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COVID-19 has turned team management upside-down, forcing managers of every stripe to reinvent team culture via videoconference and messaging apps. For the extroverted hands-on manager, this new virtual milieu lacks physicality and personal touch. Gone are the handshakes and high-fives that once motivated team performance.
Without the benefit of water-cooler chats, impromptu huddles and casual social interactions, team members are likely to feel disconnected. Left adrift in a sea of emails and endless virtual meetings, the fun of work is nonexistent. While some workers thrive in this environment, others miss the routine and hustle of a structured workday. Being alone in front of a screen all day can erode confidence and promote feelings of disengagement. Sadly, many team leaders are unaware of this until it impacts their bottom line.
As a leader with a remote workforce, you may think the smiling faces you see during videoconferences demonstrate job satisfaction, but is this an accurate indicator of your team’s mood? How are they feeling when the camera is off? Are they anxious about their job security? And now that their jobs have become more challenging, how do they stay motivated? If your team members are suffering from remote-work fatigue, an intervention may be required.
Here are five tips for building a terrific team culture while working remotely.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate
As a leader, you may not feel the need for interaction to stay motivated, but remote workers often feel isolated. Teleconferencing apps are not enough to provide all the levels of interaction a team needs. Stay in touch on macro- and micro-levels by creating chat channels for the whole company as well as for each team and affinity group. These channels can be used for everything from work to casual interactions, shoutouts, announcements and company updates.
2. Switch up your telecommunications methods
Using a variety of formal and informal channels allows leaders to walk the floor, virtually, and check in with team members one-on-one without putting time on their calendars. The right combination of tech tools will give you the flexibility to feel connected at multiple levels without disrupting your team’s workflow. Allowing remote teams the flexibility to communicate in a variety of relaxed and unscheduled ways will promote the regular exchange of ideas, making everyone more productive.
3. Maintain a sense of community
How top executives communicate right now is a key element in building community. Leaders in my network have shared their secrets, and many are doing all-company huddles weekly. This relaxed forum allows for the introduction of new team members, sharing company news and giving shout-outs to top performers. While it may include business topics, it will just as often be focused on non-work topics, such as summer vacations.
Relating to one another in a forum that is not always work-related makes up for the lack of social interaction that comes with working from home. Smart entrepreneurs know that it is that sense of community that brings the team together and makes them work harder to accomplish common goals.
4. Evangelize your vision
When asked to describe the vision of the company in their own words, many new employees may be caught off-guard. Rather than having new recruits memorize the mission statement from the website, take the time to make sure your vision is authentic. By actively communicating vision and explaining it thoroughly, you will foster a more passionate buy-in from the team.
5. Use values to develop corporate identity
Once your team is on board with the company’s vision and where it is going, it is important to communicate values as well. This can be done in one of two ways.
The first way is to make sure you identify and clearly communicate your company’s core values. These values are the guideposts that keep the company on track; they are the aspects of the company that get mentioned in annual reviews and goal-setting sessions; they are the capstones of new-hire orientations and get their own hashtags at company events. When an employee exemplifies the company’s core values, they deserve a shout-out in the weekly huddle.
The second way is by living the values daily. Values can only work for companies when leaders embrace and live them.
Building a superior corporate culture is challenging during normal times, but it is even more difficult when the whole team is working remotely. By following these simple guidelines, it is possible to build a strong and positive culture that fosters innovation, productivity and teamwork.