culture on remote teams

Company culture isn’t about having a fancy office.

Culture is about having a team that works well together and is productive, all working towards the same goal.

Many employees are opting to work remotely to enjoy their life and have more freedom.

As technology improves, it’s becoming even easier for people to work when and where they want while maintaining a high level of productivity.

From the book Remote: Office Not Required:

“The big transition with a distributed workforce is going from synchronous to asynchronous collaboration. Not only do we not have to be in the same spot to work together, we also don’t have to work at the same time to work together.”

Pros And Cons Of Remote Working

Offering remote work isn’t a perfect solution, but there are many pros, like:

  1. Easier Work-Life Balance

    Working remotely gives your employees a sense of freedom that lets them have a life outside of work.

    They can structure their day around their families, appointments, and other personal things.

    The time it takes to commute (and the stress that comes from that) doesn’t help employees enjoy a good work-life balance.

  2. Remote Workers Log More Hours

    In one experiment by researchers at Stanford1, people who worked from home logged more hours than office workers in their regularly scheduled shift and took less sick days, meaning they were able to log more overall hours.

    Similarly, research from Gallup finds that remote workers log an average of four more hours per week than their on-site counterparts.

  3. Remote Workers Are More Productive

    Remote workers not only log more hours, but they tend to be more productive because of their quieter work environments.

    Also, because they’re able to balance their life better and are generally less stressed, they don’t experience burnout as easy, meaning they can maintain their productivity for longer.

  4. Remote Workers Have Lower Turnover

    In the Stanford experiment mentioned earlier, they also found that turnover for the workers that worked from home dropped by almost 50% compared to the control group.

    That’s an incredibly powerful statistic when you stop and think about it.

While this all sounds amazing, it’s not all perfect. There are some cons to allowing employees to work from home, like:

  1. Remote Workers Have To Be Incredibly Organized

    It’s so easy to get distracted or demotivated when you’re working remotely (Netflix and chill?).

    Many people don’t have the focus or organization to be a good remote worker.

    As a manager, it’s your responsibility to make sure that a remote employee has everything they need to do good work.

  2. Culture Becomes Harder

    There’s no doubt that while it’s still very possible to have a good culture with remote employees, it’s much harder than it is in a physical office.

    Naturally, the more team members get to be with each other, the closer they get and the more that culture is built.

    Yes, with tools like Slack you can keep everyone connected and create a sense of shared purpose, but it definitely takes a lot of work and commitment.

  3. Communication Becomes Harder

    You need to have great communicators, and even great writers on your team. When you’re hiring a remote employee, in my opinion, writing should be the number one skill you look for.

    So much of your communication will be by chat or email, you need someone who can clearly explain their thoughts and understand things much easier.

    Also, you need to communicate much better and more clearly to ensure that someone jumping into the conversation later understands exactly what’s going on.

So if you think that the pros outweigh the cons and you’re open to having remote employees, the question then becomes, how do you build a culture with remote employees?

Tips To Build Culture On A Remote Team

The key thing with building culture on a remote team is more frequent communication.

You need to put in extra effort to ensure that people feel included and part of the team.

Also, it’s important that you understand that cool perks, fancy offices, and casual Fridays aren’t what make a great culture.

Ambitious goals, powerful core values, lots of trust and respect are what make a good company culture.

Here are a few tips to help you engage your remote team.

  1. Trust Is The Key

    The key to making it work with remote employees is trusting them.

    If you see that they’re “offline” for an hour or two and you start worrying if they’re actually doing any work or just playing video games means that you don’t fully trust them.

    If you trusted them enough to hire them and pay them money, then you should trust them enough to do the work they have to do.

    Trust is a two-way street. If you show them that you trust them, they’ll trust you and reward you with hard work.

  2. Invest In The Right Tools

    You need to make sure that the team is always in the loop and is able to collaborate and work efficiently. Plus it’s nice if they’re able to have a little fun too.

    Tools like:

    • Slack
    • Skype
    • Google Drive
    • Trello
    • IDoneThis
  3. Meet In Person

    Companies like Buffer meet in person a few times a year for a “retreat” to make sure all the remote employees can connect with each other.

    This makes it so that the team building can occur even if they’re not always together.

    It might seem like a big expense, but it’s totally worth it to make sure that everyone has that opportunity.

  4. Have More Meetings

    You need to make sure that everyone is kept in the loop, so you’ll need to conduct more frequent team meetings, ideally with video.

    You should also conduct frequent one-on-ones with employees, virtually, and ask about how their personal lives are going.

    A good idea is to meet individually with people once a week, and then do an all team meeting once every two weeks.

  5. Involve Your Team More

    You need to be super transparent with your team and try to include them in as many decisions as possible.

    Being remote can make you feel lonely, so it’s important that you work extra hard to make remote workers feel like they’re part of the team.

Download this helpful tip: The number one perk you should be offering to every one of your employees.

Do You Have Any Tips For Remote Workers?

Let us know if you have any other tips to build a culture on a remote team in the comments below!