How to Build a Strong Remote Team

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Woman working remotely having a video conference - Building a Strong Remote Team
Ruth Albertson
Ruth Albertson
January 9, 2021
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Human Resources

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Remote work has increased significantly in recent years as companies have found that it improves productivity and even lowers some of their operating costs. While there is obviously an incredible number of benefits of creating a remote workforce, this endeavor also presents a few challenges. Here are just a few tips for how to build a strong remote team that can lean into its healthy culture to create a thriving company.

Word cloud with words like: Company Culture, Integrity, Ideology, value, conduct, vision, etc.

Create a Healthy Remote Company Culture

Company culture is one of the most important aspects of a thriving workforce, but it is also one of the least understood. Some may believe that a healthy culture requires little more than a nice break room and occasional outings. However, most businesses need more than this, and it has become abundantly evident for those individuals who have worked from home for some time. Creating a culture that is healthy and positive requires you to address it in every aspect of teamwork, including team meetings and company functions.

Make Company Values Clear

By defining key company values, you will find it far easier to translate them into the company culture. Some possible options depending on your company’s needs include integrity, diversity, teamwork, passion, constant improvement, and innovation. Make these values clear to new team members and to all people currently working for your company.

Focus on Personal Communication With Remote Employees

Woman talking to her manager through a video call

Distributed workforces, particularly those located in a variety of time zones, can make it hard for you to connect with everyone regularly. This is why a commitment to constant communication is so vital to the success of your remote company.

When you work in the same office building with your employees, you find it easy to have casual interactions with each person. However, it can be just as easy to forget about certain members of your distributed teams when you are not bumping into them in the break room or at the copy machine. Take time to develop connections with each employee. Ask them how their work is going, or chat with them about their families or hobbies. This can help decrease employee stress and build strong, dedicated teams.

Hold Regular Team Meetings

In addition to the personal interactions you will need to foster, you must also create good team communication. One way to do this is to hold weekly meetings via video chats. If you have team members scattered across the country or around the globe, be sure to alternate the times at which you hold these meetings so that you are not favoring any specific group of people. These meetings should include general work-related information, such as project updates, but should also be fun times when team members can share personal stories and laugh with one another.

Create Small Teams With Dedicated Team Members

Small team working together with a remote coworker

Although you may think that building big teams will help your company get more work accomplished in shorter periods, the opposite is often true, especially for successful remote companies. In fact, reports have shown that smaller companies generally have higher levels of engagement than their larger counterparts do. While there are many reasons for choosing smaller teams, some of the benefits you will gain include improved communication among team members, increased creativity and independent thinking, more innovation, and increased collaboration.

Make Time for In-Person Team-Building Events

While your team may be limited to remote work for everyday events, you should plan at least two or three times a year when single teams or all of your employees can get together in person. These can be planned team-building events, company parties, or even fun happy hours. If your team members do not live nearby, you may need to budget accordingly for regular travel. These in-person events are vital pieces to the healthy company culture puzzle.

Use Smart Day-to-Day Tools

Organizations with a remote workforce need a different set of tools than those in traditional brick and mortar offices. For example, you will need video meeting software, a virtual time clock, messaging software like Google Hangouts, team collaboration software like Slack, a project management platform like Asana, and cloud storage like Google Drive or Dropbox. No matter what tools you choose, make sure they are easy to use, and don’t forget to allow time for training on these new platforms.

You should also consider proving each team member with a company computer and anti-virus software, dual-monitors to improve productivity, a high-quality webcam with a microphone. Other tech items to consider are a wireless Bluetooth headset for making calls through your CRM software, an IP phone with a WiFi dongle, an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to power the computer, phone, and internet router in case of a power outage. It is also recommended that you reimburse remote team members for their internet bill.

Allow for Flexibility

One of the greatest benefits of remote work that the majority of your team members will comment on is the flexibility in work hours. Although there may be times when employees need to be online at specific times for team meetings, give them as much flexibility as possible. Let them choose their own schedules whenever possible, and give them plenty of flexibility in scheduling vacation hours so that they can work around their personal needs.

Regularly Recognize Achievements

Team applauding to a remote coworker

Remote work can eventually start feeling quite solitary. Team members may begin sensing that their work and achievements are not seen by their coworkers or even by you. By regularly recognizing and even rewarding achievements in weekly meetings, your employees will feel appreciated and will be more motivated than ever to work diligently even when there is not a manager looking over their shoulders.

Recruit the Right Remote Workers

As you continue to build your team, be sure that you recruit workers who have the qualities necessary to work well in a remote environment. The ideal candidate should be self-disciplined, organized, flexible, independent, confident, and a good communicator.

How to Build a Strong Remote Team and Improve Remote Team Culture

Remember that building remote teams and creating the ideal company culture takes time. Although you should not expect perfect results overnight, you should, however, continually look for ways to improve the working conditions and productivity of your remote teams.

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