There are so many pros to working remotely: no commute, flexible hours, the ability to stay home with kids (or fur kids), and lower overhead costs for the company. But one major drawback can be the lack of company culture and community that is formed by working face-to-face with a team. Customer support company Help Scout has outlined six ways you can intentionally create a successful work culture when working with a virtual team:
- Lay the groundwork. Before you can maintain your culture, you need to make sure your company’s ideals are clearly established. This begins by articulating your values, mission, vision and purpose.
- Start off on the right foot. Employees are willing to take a 15% pay cut if they feel like their work has a higher purpose. Introduce your values, mission, vision, and purpose to them during training, and explain how they came to be. To be clear: we’re not saying you should pay your employees less, but rather, that giving the work greater meaning will help keep employees engaged on those days when the costs of working at home—like feeling isolated—sets in.
- Put values into practice. To make sure your employees stay connected with that bigger purpose, try highlighting one value per month company-wide and encourage employees to actively incorporate it into their jobs. Then, at the end of each month, have employees share how they did it with the rest of their team. For example, if one of your values is “strive for a win-win,” then your teammates could reflect on what that means to them, try it out with a customer, and report back on how it went. This might feel a little kitschy at first, but without a physical office, you have to get more intentional about how you expect your employees to live your values.
- Create a sense of community. If your company is small (under 20-30 employees), this might look like one company-wide Slack channel where team members can ping each other for help or just share a funny gif. Holding weekly virtual meetings where the team can get some face time and see what each other needs can help foster community as well. If you have a larger remote team, consider splitting them into smaller groups of five to ten people to act as a support system for one another. If your distributed team lives across different time zones, group them together by closest proximity so they’re more likely to have friends available to chat or get help throughout their workday.
- Pair up. Friendships don’t form as organically on remote teams as they would if employees were working together in-person, and studies show those bonds lead to happier and more engaged employees. Small group interactions help create these bonds, but take it one step further by having teammates meet virtually with one new person each week so they can get to know them better.
- Send them some swag. Give your employees something physical that reminds them they’re part of a team with a shared purpose (plus, who doesn’t like free stuff?). Budget allowing, this could be anything from a hoodie with the company logo to a mug, just make sure it’s something they actually want. While not a substitute for the chance to do meaningful work, a small gift helps show the employee they’re valued.