How to Build Company Culture with a Remote Team
By Sherry Lutz Herrington
I love studying company culture. I believe it is paramount to the success of any company to build their company culture with intention. Although we were a remote team before the pandemic, we were still able to get together in person occasionally. We actually had our last team event the week before the shutdown. That was the last time we were all together face to face.
As this pandemic has dragged on indefinitely, I see other companies switching from entirely in-person to remote. I wonder what we need to do to intentionally build a stronger, more connected team under these new constraints.
Recently my Team Captain came up with the idea of having her own regular communication with the team that will NOT be work-oriented. I’m in full support. We use Trello for our team communication, so she set up a Trello list on one of our team boards. She posted a Thanksgiving Recipe Tradition with some info about it and her traditions. We are all invited to add our own recipe traditions or comments. She will mix it up and post different things as time goes on. I love the way this will give the team a platform to connect with each other more personally.
Company culture can mean many things but connecting on a personal level when working remotely will help build teamwork.
Another important way to keep your culture strong is to offer encouragement and be thankful. Separation means not everyone knows what everyone else is doing. So if you can shout out someone for a job well done, it helps the whole team feel appreciated. We have a list on our Team Meetings Trello board specifically for Shout Outs. They don’t all have to come from management; if a team member thanks another team member publicly, this goes a long way, too.
Yesterday, I was listening to Brene Brown’s podcast, “Dare to Lead.” She interviewed Eric Mosley, the Co-founder and CEO of Workhuman, a company dedicated to changing workforces to be more human-centric. He had a fascinating perspective on how our companies have become the place where we connect most. In previous decades we connected more in our neighborhoods, churches, and other personal settings. We now have our most meaningful human connections through our work. Wow.
That shifts how we, as leaders, need to think about the culture we are building within our own organizations.
Mosley argues that we need to take time to celebrate with (and connect and thank) our coworkers. And not just work milestones, but personal ones, as well. Taking some time to get to know one another and share what is happening in our personal lives is critical. We can build empathy and support while we work apart.
I agree that not every conversation or meeting has to be entirely about work. We’ve already proven we are more efficient working remotely. When we commute long distances we walk in tired, spending half our time figuring out what needs to be done. Then we attend unnecessary meetings and yammer around the coffee pot.
But, streamlining efficiencies to the point of losing the human connection can cost a company in the long run.
Taking the time to build the company culture in any remote company is more critical as time goes on. Stop to evaluate whether the current culture is supporting your remote team. Perhaps adjustments need to be made due to changes in the work setting.
Everyone wants to be part of something. That means feeling like a respected and valued individual, not just a workhorse slugging away behind the scenes, unseen and unheard. Take time to connect with your group, show them that you care, and be grateful for all their contributions.
Culture should always be evolving as companies grow and change. During this time of more remote work than ever before, it is critically important to pay attention to what culture you want to nurture and grow within your company.
Sherry Lutz Herrington is the owner of Sherrington Financial Fitness, a business consulting and accounting firm specializing in strategic business planning and solid financial accounting for businesses. She is also the author of Strong Women Thriving (https://strongwomenthriving.com/), a blog which focuses on empowering women to be financially savvy, particularly after experiencing financial abuse. Sherry is currently writing a new book that both shares her personal story and addresses financial abuse. She can be reached at email@example.com.
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