A global pandemic and a rapid modernisation of technology have meant most of us are now embracing remote working or a mix between onsite and home office. Building and retaining a good workplace culture has always been a challenge for management and leadership teams. With the additional pressure of distance and a loss of face-to-face communication, we’re now relying on a whole new set of communication tools and strategies to keep team members productive and engaged. How do we move forward and navigate this new world whilst retaining a strong team spirit? What are some of the practical cornerstones that we can implement immediately? And how do we mitigate challenges as people’s personal lives and work lives become more intertwined?

Company culture is important and is the backbone of every business. Company culture refers to beliefs and behaviours that determine how management and employees interact not just with each other, but with external stakeholders and clients outside of the organisation. It consists of a set of unique beliefs, assumptions, values and behaviours that all make up the social and psychological fabric of the organisation. By defining and frequently reviewing company values, it gives management teams unique insights into organisational problems, how to manage them and constantly strive for healthier team culture.

In order to foster team spirit amongst remote teams, it’s important that managers:

Understand the value of remote working

Building a team of remote workers allows you to attract the best talent to your roles. No longer limited by proximity, the world is suddenly opened up to a global talent pool. Learning how to nurture this talent accordingly and incorporating team values requires mature leadership attributes including high-level communication skills and being able to facilitate cross-cultural collaboration.

A result of a good team culture means that remote employees are more productive and are more likely to be loyal to your company, resulting in less turnover.

Understand the challenges of remote working

Remote working can be challenging for everyone. Getting up to speed on technology, having a tendency to overwork and employees having to manage their time without someone (physically) looking over their shoulder. Then there is the interruptions of partners, kids, pets and the delivery person. Easy to use tools and technology must be prioritised by businesses to take the hassles out of daily communication and administration. A remote-work focussed platform such as a Lano helps to take the pain out of some of these challenges by making the onboarding process smoother and getting remote workers paid faster.

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The importance of trust

As managers and business owners, trust is one of the most important assets we can give our staff. The trust to get the job done, on their own terms, whilst both employer and employee working harmoniously to meet business objectives. It should also take into account some of the challenges of remote work which may be a newer concept to many employees, so be sure to educate them mindfully. Having clear policies and guidelines, regular check-ins (whilst remembering many things can still be taken to a communication platform or email – we don’t want Zoom-fatigue!) and feedback sessions will allow your employees to feel both “seen” and “heard”.

Model healthy work/life habits

In an effort to always look “available” many employees may end up overworking as a result of remote work, learning to burnout and disillusionment. As managers, our role is to step up and model (not just pay lip service) the type of healthy behaviours that will benefit the team. Online team wellness challenges or making time for social events (on work time) can be a great way to boost morale, especially when team-building exercises may not be as COVID-friendly as they once were. A wonderful benefit from home is being able to cook and sit down to a meal, away from our computers – encourage your team members to take regular, offline breaks. Suggest a yoga class, a nap, a brisk walk outside and make room in your budget for feelgood activities that team members can do of their own choosing. As remote workers, you should encourage your team members to establish a good daily rhythm. A good routine is one that supports both focus and productivity, one that allows you time to decompress from the screen and focus on a life outside of work too. A great manager will always model and support these healthy habits.

Express gratitude to team members

Gratitude feels good to give and to receive. Make concerted efforts to notice and amplify your team members wins and be sure to thank them both publicly in the team channel or to pass on positive feedback whether they are permanent or freelance member of the team. The best thing about gratitude? It’s utterly infectious, can be paid forward, and makes everyone else feel good too. And don’t just wait for leadership to notice your wins. Why not amplify your colleague’s achievements or pass on a heartfelt thanks inside your company’s communication channel.

Creating a remote team culture requires a concerted effort from leadership teams down to employees. By working on your business culture from the top, modelling positive behaviours, and constantly fine-tuning your goals, will make for a more seamless adjustment to remote working.