Remote teams have become essential components in successful organizations, and we’ve seen many companies slowly employing the hybrid model in which some employees are working on-site, while others work virtually.
International virtual teams are the key to the biggest successes of many global brands as they learn to function as a complex network of people. Businesses that successfully employ virtual teams worldwide have access to skilled human resources that allow them to compete internationally.
However, the complex concept of culture poses a serious challenge but is still necessary for remote and hybrid workplaces. This is because members of virtual teams work at a distance across cultures and communication is restricted to the use of technology.
This article explains how to build a strong culture with a remote team in 2023, so that teams can unite, align, and inspire their people towards success.
Importance of Culture in Remote Teams
A strong culture is the backbone of any successful business. However, some companies have had difficulty adjusting to the shift to remote and hybrid working, sometimes resulting in miscommunication, distractions, feeling of isolation, reduced work-life balance, greater reliance on technology, and an inability to interact socially.
A solid work culture that suits employees in a remote environment gives them a positive experience and makes them feel connected, appreciated, and valued — despite the physical distance. It helps them to better cope with loneliness, turn teams into advocates of the company’s purpose, and helps retain the best talent.
Despite the challenges of missing in-person interactions, there are still companies that thrive on a remote and hybrid work model and have been able to successfully build a healthy culture. If you are working towards building or rebuilding a strong remote work culture, here are six best practices to help you get started and see results.
8 Ways to Build a Strong Culture With a Remote Team
1. Define, Refine, and Share Your Company Culture
Workplace culture consists of an organization’s shared expectations, perceptions, practices, and values that guide the thoughts and actions of its members.
Whether you’re a new business or already an existing one, you can develop your culture from scratch or refine what you have. Know your “whys” to serve as the foundation for your success and translate them into your mission and vision, company values, and key performance indicators to maintain them.
Always communicate your culture clearly through all forms of communication such as your website, social media pages, emails, ads, and job postings. As a remote team, it is important to have a culture that attracts the right talent from a global talent pool.
Internally, keep your company culture documents in a file that all your team members can access and refer back to anytime. They may need to lean on your core values when faced with uncertainties such as making important decisions, resolving conflicts, and interacting with one another. During onboarding, company culture should be incorporated into all aspects of the process.
Keep in mind that your culture is dynamic and changes all the time, in both small and substantially noticeable ways, as the company grows. So, you have to continue redefining, refining, communicating, and making them available to everyone on your team.
2. Hire Self-Starters Based On Cultural Fit
A strong company attracts a wide variety of talent. When hiring for your remote team, look for people who:
- Believe in your mission and vision and whose personal values are in alignment with your core values and company culture.
- Are self-starters who are motivated, resourceful, and able to efficiently work with little supervision.
Team members whose beliefs are in accordance with yours are more likely to stay committed to your company, demonstrate hard work, be more productive, and contribute to creating a positive remote work environment.
Remote workers need to be self-starters. In a remote workplace, it is vital to have team members who are capable of doing their jobs without a boss micromanaging them to stay on track with their deliverables.
Previous remote work is an advantage because they’ll know what to expect in a virtual workplace. Candidates with no work-from-home experience may require more training to get used to the remote environment which would require more careful consideration but should not be a hindrance.
3. Give New Hires a Good Remote Onboarding Experience
Virtually onboarding new team members can be challenging so remote teams need to develop an effective onboarding process that helps new them to get acquainted with their virtual team and the company. Here are our recommendations:
Make the new hire feel welcomed even if it’s a fully virtual onboarding process. Take the initiative to prepare and send the welcome email even before their first day of work, with a complete summary of your company’s culture, handbook, values, the people and team they will work with, and the onboarding schedule and agenda.
This will help ease their first-day nerves and build confidence in knowing they are equipped with the basics when they log in on their first day.
Employ a Virtual Buddy System
Appoint someone as the new hire’s role buddy who will support them, answer all their questions, and proactively reach out to them to create a connection between the new hire and everyone on the team.
Make the first day fun and exciting
Aside from online training or video call meetings, set up their virtual workspace such as passwords, access to files, announcing the new team members in the group chats, and any virtual activities to make them feel welcomed.
If you would like to learn more about remote onboarding, download our free guide today.
4. Communicate and Collaborate
Remote team members must work through technology, and across cultures and time zones that’s why they must trust one another. A culture built on trust means working together to have open and honest communication and maintaining transparency to achieve a common goal. Technology is used so everyone can connect and collaborate. This includes team management software for group chats and personal messages, virtual team meetings, emails, and video calls.
Create a collaborative approach when using communication tools. Create group chats for teams, sub-teams, and the entire organization to keep the discussions alive, inspire participation, and engage in meaningful conversations where knowledge and insights are shared.
Communication and collaboration are essential for a team to accomplish its goals. Maximize collaboration tools and strategies so people can work well together even in a dispersed workplace.
5. Create Psychological Safety
Psychological safety at work involves creating a safe space where everyone can be vulnerable and speak up about their experiences, thoughts, feelings, opinions, questions, or concerns without fear of rejection or punishment.
When you build trust, you already have the foundation of a psychologically safe environment. You just have to support such space by setting clear expectations, connecting with your team on a personal level, and encouraging conversations by using available tools and technology that foster structured conversations for better understanding between co-workers.
6. Host Virtual Team Building Activities
When you have virtual events or meetings, allocate some time for some fun and competitive team-building games to bring everyone closer, alleviate any feelings of loneliness or isolation, and strengthen the company culture for better collaboration and teamwork. Examples of virtual team-building activities are virtual coffee breaks, game nights, trivia challenges, icebreakers in meetings, and guided team meditation.
7. Create a Career Development Plan for Your Team
A career development plan is a written roadmap for short and long-term goals that team members set for themselves and work on to achieve career goals. Provide your team with training to ensure their personal growth, improve their performance, develop them to become great leaders, and retain top teams. Create a culture of learning by codifying career development plans. Define and include these values in performance appraisal, operating principles, coaching sessions, and meetings. Offer online classes, workshops, training, job rotation, mentoring, and participation in conferences.
8. Invest in Workplace Culture
Provide your remote team with communication and collaboration tools so they can do their work effectively. One way of doing this is to invest in a team that is solely focused on the team and culture such as the People and Culture department.
Another way is using a platform like RemotePass which allows companies to easily hire, onboard, manage and pay remote teams internationally. You’ll have the ability to streamline these processes on one platform, manage team members’ benefits, and seamlessly align your team for a more efficient selection process, increased productivity and motivation, and improved remote work environment.
By implementing these recommendations, you will establish a solid foundation to build a strong remote team with a shared belief that supports your goals and encourages better performance, teamwork, productivity, and team retention and satisfaction in a remote environment.