Maintaining Your Company Culture while Managing Teams Remotely
Managing a remote team can be more complex than managing a traditional team in a physical office space. Adding to this complexity is the fact that a remote team has the same needs as a traditional team. They, just like a traditional team, need to feel the work they do is important and meaningful. Feeling competent and confident about their performance, that they are pursuing their own personal goals and that they “fit in” with the company are critical components of an personal satisfaction – regardless of whether you’re on a remote or traditional team.
Creating and maintaining company culture can be a challenge in traditional office, but it’s even more daunting with a remote team. It’s far easier for employees to disconnect from the company culture due to the remote nature of interaction. In reality, maintaining your company’s ethos within a remote team isn’t very different to doing it in a traditional office environment. They both follow very similar patterns but require techniques to accomplish the same goal.
Here are a few tips on how to maintain your company culture while managing a remote team:
Communicate your culture
Clearly articulate your company culture. Write it down in a document so that everyone in your company, from new hires to long-time employees, understand what is expected from them. Clearly establishing how their performance will be measured and guidelines for a good cultural fit will go a long way toward setting transparent expectations. Make this document as detailed as possible and easily accessible. Think of this document, this constitution of sorts, as a continuous work in progress. Come back to it periodically and adjust it as your company evolves.
Introduce new employees to the entire team
Just like in a traditional office, you want to make new employees feel welcome and a part of the remote team from day one. It is a great idea to introduce them to the entire team during a weekly conference call, as well as via email or blog post on your website. You will want to encourage new employees to reach out to their coworkers so that they can get a sense of the company culture directly from the people who contribute to it every day. Devise an onboarding process that makes it easy for new employees to feel right at home within the team.
Pro tip: you could send new hires some company swag (coffee mug, pen, t-shirt) to introduce them to the company culture right off the bat.
Communication is the key element that will help you maintain your company culture, especially when you are managing a remote team.
It is vital that you provide your team with an efficient channel (or channels) for getting in touch with you. Whether your company uses tools like Asana, Slack, Trello, Skype, Google Docs, or MS Teams, ensure that all team members know which channel is best suited for specific situations and make connecting with you a welcome proposition.
Whatever your preferred communication method and channel, establish clear expectations for contact between you and your team members – regardless of whether the communication is project-related or support-based.
Virtual break rooms
Some companies have dedicated communication channels in Slack or Discord servers for employees to “hang out” virtually. This helps everybody feel more integrated and as part of an office environment, even if it isn’t a traditional one. Virtual break rooms give employees the chance to relax and be more at ease with one another.
These virtual break rooms are a great replication of the serendipitous watercooler moments that tend to happen when employees run into each other while getting coffee or a snack.
Team building events
Hosting a Friday evening happy hour via Zoom, a monthly virtual pizza party to celebrate birthdays and other milestones, or a virtual game night are just a few ideas that promote engagement of team members outside of work-oriented projects. These events help team members connect in a more personal manner to help form a stronger bond.
These types of events should be voluntary and should be hosted regularly. Some companies opt for weekly activities, while others prefer to do it on a monthly basis.
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