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How to keep teamwork & company culture going with remote teams

It has been almost a year since many companies went entirely virtual; we know the transition hasn’t always been the easiest. The honeymoon phase of no more commute times has dwindled and the realty that your office is in your home has become a reality. While remote work is nothing new, it is still important for leaders who once had in-office teams to continue encouraging teamwork and instilling the culture and values of the organization.

We’ve scoured the internet, asked friends and colleagues and below we’ve shared what we find to be the most valuable opportunities for continuing team camaraderie and company culture.

Team Building is still important.

The reality is, most people do not want to sit on a zoom happy hour every week, however with a bit of intentional planning, opportunities for teams to come together to grow and develop themselves can continue to exist. Here are 5 great options for remote team building experiences:

  1. Virtual icebreakers
  2. Online game night
  3. Virtual breakroom
  4. If available, in-person volunteer opportunities
  5. Book of the month club

Utilize Your Employee Resource Groups

Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) are a great opportunity to bring about a group of people from a variety of different roles within the organization to work together towards a common goal. A shift to virtual ERGs will be successful in an organization if there is continued buy in from senior leadership, a focus on the assigned subject matter and are purposeful in their intentions. ERGs are a great place to engage employees beyond their job responsibilities and instill the values of the company.

Keep Communicating

A friend recently shared no one asks questions on the weekly Zoom led by the Managing Director of the large bank she works for while conversing that she felt the leadership had done such an excellent job over the past year communicating, to the best of their knowledge, what is going on in and out of the organization.

Communication needs to be clear; it needs to be thought out and it needs to come from the right people at the precise time. In addition to common daily communications, leaders need to clearly communicate the company mission and values. Employees need to know how they fit in within an organization and understand the big picture – they need to understand the purpose of their work. According to a study done by Imperative, a U.S. consulting firm, “purpose-oriented employees are 54% more likely to stay at a company for five-plus years and 30% more likely to be high performers.”

Internal team communication is a must. Conversation and collaboration do not happen as easily as they would in the office when you have to ask someone to “hop on Zoom real quick”. Encouraging your management staff to schedule one-on-one meetings, set team and individual goals, host weekly team meetings and allow time throughout the week for more organic collab opportunities is essential for employee success.

Ideas for team communications can include – brown bag lunch meetings that cover different topics within the organization such as employee development, online learnings, etc., team newsletters to share milestones from inside and out of the office, encourage the use of video chat as much as possible and internal chat services such as Skype or Microsoft Teams.

How are Your Leaders Leading?

The same friend we mentioned earlier told us the company culture prior to COVID-19 was very anti-work from home. The CEO believed that all employees should work from the office to cultivate collaboration and maintain a healthy company culture. So, you can imagine that it was quite a shift for everyone, including the leadership when they went remote last March. While she felt her leadership has done a great job shifting from in-person to online, we know it hasn’t been the same for everyone. Businesses should be paying attention to how their leaders are performing and guiding their constituents. Do they hold these qualities?

  1. Trust: No one thrives in a climate of micromanagement. Give your employees the opportunity to do their work and excel.
  2. Purpose: Walk the walk and talk to talk. Make sure what the leaders are expecting of their employees they are doing themselves!
  3. Empathy: Caring about your employees’ well-being in and out of work is essential to being a good leader and is an important step in workplace happiness.
  4. Promote diversity: Diversity is key to a successful organization and team. Sharing different perspectives and ideas is necessary for personal and professional growth and the evolution of business. Hiring diversity across all employment levels implies that no one has to look, act or be the same in order to advance their careers within the organization.
  5. Take feedback: not everyone is going to be happy with how things are run, but a leader must be willing to receive constructive criticism and be willing to implement changes to how they work and lead for the betterment of their team and organization.

Leaders may not always get it right, but it is important they are making a conscious effort to continue to evolve the business landscape as the demands of the remote workers change. It is important to remember that encouraging team camaraderie and instilling company culture is a commitment and not something that can be done at an annual meeting.

Entrepreneur Magazine recently shared this reminder, “Culture is everything about how we work together… which is why it’s important to get it right from day one. Setting the correct tone isn’t something that can be bolted on at a later date when the company is scaling beyond the original team. It should run seamlessly through the business, reflected in the way it operates. Every decision a business makes should have people at its core.”