Teams with remote employees are becoming more common. In fact, according to a recent study, 43% of Americans workers state that they spend at least some of their time working remotely.
The idea of having teams that are dispersed across cities, time zones and even continents can pose a unique challenge for culture. At its heart, culture is focused on action and interaction. It’s all about the way that people behave around each other in their environment.
So, how do you tackle culture when your team has never met face-to-face? What does culture look like when that shared environment is actually the Internet?
The Benefits of Remote Work
Remote work can mean a lot of different things. It no longer simply refers to your classic telecommuter; the lone member of a team who operates out of a different city (although it does still include that). It’s expanded to house many different workplace behaviours and situations.
Maybe it’s a staff member who works from home once a week, or a team that works out of a coworking space on the other side of the world. Maybe it’s a traveling event coordinator, or an employee who feels more productive hammering out assignments at home in the evening.
With work only a few taps away on our smartphones, the notion of how and where work is done is becoming more fluid every single day. All of these new work styles fall into the realmn of remote work as well and represent a greater trend towards companies with decentralized teams.
There’s a reason why remote work is becoming more and more common in workplaces: It has some pretty incredible benefits.
- Lower Stress: 82% of remote employees report lower stress levels
- More Productive: 91% of remote employees feel that they are more productive at home
- More Creative: Remote workers are 20% more productive when given creative assignments
The benefits go on. With positives like these, it’s no surprise that remote work is becoming more and more commonplace.
How to Build Culture for a Remote Team
Building culture for a remote team actually shares a lot of similarities with building culture for a traditional, single office team—although there are some unique differences.
Use the Right Tools
Communication is one of the most fundamental elements of culture. A lot of how your culture will evolve with remote employees will depend on the tools that you’re using to bring everyone closer together. Slack will make a huge difference and allow your employees to get in touch with each other easily and gain insight into projects from across the organization. For some much needed face time, leverage video conferencing tools like Google Hangouts or Lifesize for meetings.
Schedule IRL Meetings
While your team might spend most of their time apart, it’s important to set aside time to meet in person, even if it’s just once a year or once a quarter. Having IRL (In Real Life) meetups where you sync on larger strategic goals and have fun together will work wonders for your team building and make sure that even your most far-flung employees feel like they’re a part of your larger organization.
Be as Transparent as Possible
When you are far away from home base, it’s easy to feel like you’re being left out of big decisions or that you don’t have visibility into what’s actually going on in the company. You need to create an environment that values transparency, so that your team will infuse it into everything they do. Avoid private Slack channels as much as possible and schedule regular “All Hands” meetings for the team to discuss issues and openly ask questions of senior management.