As we think about the role of the office, people now want greater flexibility in where and how they work. For businesses, this might mean moving employees across a number of different locations, whether they’re in the same city, country, or around the world. These ideas may be new for some. Although the future of work is going to look different, people will continue to find ways to interact, learn, and grow. Here are some tips to help create culture within a remote team:

Communicate like you mean it 

The most important tip is communication. For teams working across different locations, having a schedule of team meetings (and being consistent with them) so that you can communicate with each other is huge. A reliable, regular schedule of meetings (in person when possible, and if not, Zoom) allows you to share successes and handle any challenges. Creating a culture where employees have the opportunity to ask questions helps cultivate trust and interdependence.

For remote teams, the lack of breakroom chat or spontaneous encounters in the lobby means we don’t always get to pick up on the nonverbal cues of our colleagues. When being in person is not possible, technology should be used as a tool to maintain that connectivity. If you’re in doubt about which channel to use, these quick pointers may help: 

  • Email: talk to large groups and critical updates 

  • Slack: active collaboration, digital fun (gifs, memes) 

  • Zoom: video meetings, camera switched on that is! 

Tip: Host office hours via Zoom with no set agenda, just an open forum to ask questions or chat over coffee. 

Be there

By this, I mean embody genuine, human leadership. While authenticity has become a trendy word, I’ve always been inspired by leaders who are transparent and committed to their teams. What stands out is the ability to be human while in management: an actual interest in employees, and sometimes challenging for leaders, is getting comfortable with sharing your emotions. 

When we entered the pandemic, teams went into crisis management mode. After a few weeks and once things were under control, the world was still uncertain. If you continue to engage employees and members by addressing the challenges quickly and with purpose, you can overcome those difficult situations. As a leader, you have to learn that demonstrating curiosity about someone’s well-being and making yourself available has a deep impact on our team’s cohesion. Even on Zoom, challenge yourself to have your emotional senses on high alert. When you sense frustration or worry about someone’s well-being, follow up via a call to check-in. 

Tip: Be human and be kind. Knowing when and how to share your own emotions while remaining professional goes a long way in building a more personal relationship with those who are remote. 

Create stability

Through continued uncertainty, anxiety levels have risen, so providing clarity to your team is key. With so many changes, aiming for internal stability helps provide reassurance in these uncertain times. Now is the time to be transparent. This includes sharing your key business performance indicators and your future market forecasts at monthly meetings.

In an environment that is constantly changing, positivity is crucial. You focus on team bonding to keep a positive team spirit. Getting to know one another and combining moments of fun throughout the workday increase morale. 

Don’t forget the fun- when COVID-19 hit, places like Mesh Cowork immediately set up a virtual community lunch once a month, something they were accustomed to having in person every month. The purpose of this moment was to come together and catch up with a casual, fun conversation that every team member could be a part of.

We’ve rolled out many initiatives to prioritize the well-being of our people, regardless of their location. Listening circles offer opportunities to receive feedback and provide better outcomes for employees, to solve problems, and implement new initiatives with well-being at the center. 

Tip: Set clear, actionable, achievable goals. Regularly checking in with employees so that goals can stay on track and align with business priorities.

Put your people first

Burnout is so inevitable, especially during a pandemic when the lines between work and life have become so combined.

It starts with the simple impact of scheduling meetings during business hours in the time zones where your employees are based. Scheduling meetings outside their working hours will only make this worse.

Building a business is not a sprint but a marathon, so it’s important to pace yourself and take care of yourself first so that you can take care of your team. Be curious, collaborative, and kind. Be considerate in how you communicate to your teams and the tools you use to do so. 

At the end of the day, we are all human and can empower one another to use our full potential. In the months ahead, people will be experimenting with different hybrid models to create connection and community among teams. While we won’t lose the need for the in-person experience at work, we can change our behaviors to maintain strong team bonds and a sense of community even as teams are remote.

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