The world has been turned upside down and even though it will right itself some day, the process is a work in progress with very a lot of agility at the moment. For most businesses, if you never considered remote as a company-wide option, it is now up front and centre and unavoidable. Although working remote has been around for a while, it is getting more attention today and the flexibility it offers will probably be a talent attracting element sooner rather than later.
Why is culture so important? Whether onsite or remote, culture is what binds your team; it is the energy source they derive their strength from and it dictates how they will treat each other, the company and your customers. A great culture propels your team and a bad culture just about destroys your hard work in ways unimaginable.
How can you build and maintain culture in a remote team?
People are really social creatures. The level of interaction required by each person is an indicator of their personality, whether in small doses or constant touch, human beings thrive when they feel like part of a successful community.
Remote teams like physical teams are made up of diverse personalities but have the additional elements of different locations, maybe even time zones, and if you are like us in developing countries, varying degrees of access to power and different qualities of internet connectivity. Challenges aside, most people will work remote because of the benefits it offers.
How you can build a solid culture in your team.
- Be clear what your culture or take the time to craft it. Preferably, you would have articulated this and described what each of those values mean to your organisation
- Communicate, communicate, communicate: Communicate your culture, action them in team behaviour towards each other, the organisation and customers. Put them up on visible platforms for everyone to see.
- On-boarding: are new employees left to navigate their course or is there an on-boarding process that introduces the company and their team mates to them and vice-versa? Is there a welcoming committee? One of the quickest ways to get remote teams familiar with your culture is how you engage them when they join
- Maintain an open channel for random conversations, bonding sessions and sharing special moments
- Encourage regional meet-ups or hold annual conferences – when we can once again do those safely
- Engage everyone in your service delivery process: The way you structure this makes your team members feel involved in how your company delivers value
- Maintain open conversations, honesty and ensure equity always
- Maintain a team structure that allows people know work with leads and people who can directly manage their work: People need to know they will be assessed and will grow the same as though there were in a physical building
- Your team leads, remote or on site, should be team builders and have excellent communication skills amongst others. Appoint team leads who can distill your culture and keep team synergised.
- Gauge your employee engagement through surveys; ask for suggestions and create an atmosphere where employees feel they have a voice
There is no hard and fast rule to building or maintain culture. Your actions should be clear, deliberate and consistent. Your end goal is to maintain communication and connections in your remote team as you would in your physical teams and continue to provide value to your customers.