With more executives realizing that the thriving future of work depends on what we do now, promoting a healthy remote work culture has gained tremendous value. Before the pandemic only companies that opted for software outsourcing had to deal with remote management, today everyone faces the same challenge. Remote collaboration has become crucial to tackle the COVID-19 crisis and implementing a human-centered approach has been vital to succeed in current circumstances.
Although new practices might seem unknown, companies with previous experience have proved that building a sustainable remote culture is possible. With almost 30 years in the industry, TEAM International takes its rightful place among the companies with high performing remote culture. And most importantly, our knowledge has brought us some important insights. As the pandemic has transformed the way companies approach work, managers need to move the goalposts and find practical culture activities for remote teams.
Supporting business operations from home
As a trusted IT consulting company supporting dozens of organizations globally, TEAM International has become a place where innovation and trust fuel teamwork. To achieve our objectives, working with remote teams has become crucial. If you’re wondering how to build a strong culture with a remote team, you need to know that it takes more than just adding meetings or implementing new technology.
Although working from home contributes to higher flexibility, it can also be lonely and confusing. However, we have gained specific knowledge throughout the years and defined the pivotal tips for building culture across remote teams. Keep in mind that how you lead, and approach remote work now sets the path for coming and desired success.
While organizations strive to build a robust telecommuting culture, we suggest prioritizing four areas that can help improve remote collaboration.
1. Reinforce your cultural foundation
Facing a crisis can be the driver of positive change and new experiences can help adjust the culture. Since the latter is dynamic, it can evolve as the company encounters new challenges. Since every organization goes through a period of crisis now, the cultural core’s refinement is necessary.
Ensure that your company is committing to a social purpose, particularly for the specific communities in which it operates. Leaders need to be fully conscious and understand that we’re meeting the most significant behavioral change in our history. Keeping the same old norms, values, or beliefs can no longer be an option if you’re working towards a successful remote collaboration. One of the keys to success is to be willing and ready to adjust when changing times demand.
2. Encourage remote collaboration (teamwork)
Recent research has revealed that people care more about the team they work with than the company that has hired them. Therefore, focusing more time and energy on building remote teams’ collaboration is essential.
At TEAM International, most of our teams are distributed across the world. Our marketing team can act as a good example here since we have people working in different Ukrainian cities while other team members are in Mexico, Poland, and Colombia. Despite the time difference and background, we promote and nourish the same values and goals, making remote collaboration highly effective. Through virtual interaction, we make sure every team member feels recognized for their everyday victories; as we all go through such tough times, we need to strengthen each other. As you encourage remote collaboration, analyze who your best teams are to elicit certain tricks and best practices.
3. Establish clear remote communication
As we adapt to new communication methods, leaders must actively listen and recognize people’s input. Encourage employees to provide feedback, assure leaders take actions, and celebrate the changes. It’s crucial to know how people feel, and since we no longer have the same physical interaction, we need to promote intentional communication.
In the case of our development teams, they’re aligned with customers’ values to augment their in-house teams and become a natural part of their in-house dev centers. We clarify expectations and goals during the initial calls. Finally, provide all the necessary equipment to have video calls and regular sync-ups with customers’ employees. Before the pandemic, we promoted and facilitated business trips, and very often, customers traveled to Ukraine, Colombia and Poland and spent time with their dev teams.
We also run pulse surveys to monitor sentiment and detect emerging issues among the workforce. Such an approach helps us better understand how to build a strong culture amidst telecommuting. As you establish new processes, be sure to ask for feedback and appreciate the information you receive.
4. Create compelling social and learning environments
Creating a virtual space for learning and socializing can become a pivotal element to promote your remote work culture. No matter where our teams are, we’re constantly providing our talent with virtual conferences, training programs, or webinars at TEAM. Some units have ‘happy hour’ calls to talk about non-related work matters and get to know each other out of the virtual office.
Although teams may not spend much time physically together, when conditions are safe, arrange an office retreat at least once a year and allow remote teams to meet in person. These events are a fantastic way to recognize achievements, maintain social connections and strengthen the commitment to learning once they go back to working remotely.
Building a thriving remote culture
Now you have four tenets to create and sustain a remote work culture successfully. As you go through the journey, many more insights will teach you something new about your people and their struggles. Remember that we’re all stepping into unknown territory and there’s no specific manual for what everyone goes through as we face this crisis.
However, we can still thrive in such disturbing times, and team leaders can make the difference by focusing on each person and their needs. Leaders should adapt relationship-building activities to a remote working environment and find ways to validate and help their teammates operate through new practices and behaviors. Humanity must still be part of virtual connections, and leaders have the responsibility to expose hard conversations and show kindness and empathy, even if it’s from behind a screen.
Culture activities for remote teams
Below we share some activities that can help you offer support and encourage remote work culture. Suggest your leaders to explore the options and employ what can work best for their teams:
- Acknowledge birthdays and work anniversaries through virtual messages or celebrations
- Encourage leaders at all levels to have 1:1 weekly check-ins
- Employ virtual mentoring as a feedback method
- Establish a program where everyone has a ‘working from home buddy’
- Enjoy team virtual ‘happy hours’ and have fun together
- Schedule virtual morning coffee or lunch catch-ups with your team
- Surprise a team member by sending them a virtual appreciation note
While companies try to prioritize activities that promote remote work culture, they’re also taking care of their future. We act now to reap the benefits in the coming months or years. Make sure to support your talent in difficult changing circumstances, and when the time comes, you’ll experience big rewards.
How to maintain culture with remote teams?
First, evaluate your current work culture, does it need any improvement? Do you need to adjust it to current disturbances? Make the necessary changes and employ some of the cultural activities suggested above.
Why having a partner can satisfy your company’s needs?
You can have a partner to avoid remote work culture issues and let them handle some operations. By having a partner, you get much more than just an additional headcount; in the case of TEAM International, you get a committed, long-term partner. We take the time to understand your business, meet with your team, and genuinely find ways to respond to your needs.
How to evaluate the success of your remote work culture?
Pulse surveys are an effective tool to monitor sentiment and current issues that may need your attention. Honest and tracked feedback can also be a great way to understand what aspects or processes require improvements.