The Basics To Building A Healthy Remote Team Culture

Modern technology is changing the way we work.  It was always moving this way – the new world of distributed teams – but now the goalposts have shifted.  And for some of us, it might be our forever ‘normal.’

Remote work, has been thrust upon all of us, so it’s time to pivot and learn how to expertly manage once centralized teams, now dispersed across a city or even a globe.

What are the basics in creating an environment of positive behavior and continue to achieve your company goals with a completely different setup?

First – Understand the Value and Pitfalls of Distributed Teams

Do your remote team a favour when traveling down this new path.  Don’t pretend you know everything. 

Understand the benefits of working in a remote team and capitalise on them.  Do your homework and find out what the advantages of remote work.  Talk to your team members for their views, read about the topic and communicate what you learn.  Help your newly distributed team to appreciate and exploit this way of working.

More importantly, research the difficulties of remote work. Don’t be blindsided by something as simple as lack of communication or allowing a mediocre culture to fester for too long. 

Fully grasp where you stand before you start working on the solutions.

Communicate your Vision

It’s easy to create a healthy and high-performing remote culture if everyone knows and understands the company vision. 

Get clear and concise on what you are trying to achieve going forward in this new world we live in.  Communicate this vision to all the team members and do it often. Live it – show them how it is done.  Remind them daily of the importance of what they are trying to accomplish together.

Set up Trust

An exceptional remote work culture offers ‘psychological safety.’  This is a place where remote workers feel confident, they will not be embarrassed, rejected, or punished for expressing a view or idea.

If you want a remote team that works well together, encourage them to develop an emotional connection with each other and willing to show up fully in the group. 

As the leader, you need to set the expectation and standard of trust.  Show your humility, curiosity, and interest.  Bring your authenticity and integrity to interactions.  Let them know you are fallible and working together to make this new environment function. 

Educate your distributed team to give and receive constructive feedback that avoids blame.  Let them know what is involved and model the behaviour individually and with the group.

Set Expectations of the Remote Team Work

Remote or distributed teams mean so many different things to people.  Set up the expectations on how they are going to work from the start.

  • How many hours they need to be online?
  • How many times and when they need to check-in?
  • How they need to communicate with each other.
  • How many meetings they need to attend?
  • How to carve out time to get their work completed without having to respond to non-urgent requests.

Communication can be a challenge when working remotely.  So much can be misinterpreted.  Make sure the team members are 100% clear on the expectations and standards. 

Engage in a constant dialog with your team to reassess their needs and expectations. 

Encourage Open Communication and Feedback

Remote teams are difficult sometimes.  Even when you are experienced in running centralised office teams.  You’re not always going to get it right.

Set up regular feedback from your team members.  Let them express what is, and is not, working for them.  Obtaining this feedback will help you improve how to move forward and enhance the experience for everyone involved.  It’s a no brainer in building trust.

Create a Social Scene

Set up a regular virtual happy hour or breakfast meet up.  It can be entirely social (work related discussions prohibited) or discuss issues they are coming up against and solutions in their new way of working.  You could even organise some team building games to do during the virtual happy hour.  Or, set up a Slack channel or WhatsApp chat to exchange crazy pet or ‘daily life‘ photos in the new remote world.

© The Remote Work Index

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