3 ways to make team culture part of the routine in remote workplaces
It can be hard to build culture remotely, but it’s well worth the effort. Teams that excel at building remote culture have been shown to outscore their peers across almost every performance metric, from engagement to productivity. It all starts with how you communicate, collaborate, and reinforce your connections.
At Gatheround, we know that meetings are one of the only times that remote teams are live and on-camera together, so they’re an important opportunity (but not the only one!) to build community while also collaborating and executing. Here are a few places to start:
1. Set Norms
Setting norms can feel prescriptive; that’s why teams sometimes avoid it. But you know the great Brené Brown truism, “Clarity is kindness”? Norms are all about creating clarity and setting expectations.
For example, you could start a retrospective meeting with a reminder that retros are not about assigning blame or praise, but about examining collective performance. That’s a norm. Or you could start a team-building exercise by reminding everyone to go camera-on while they’re in breakout rooms. Or you could set the expectation that Wednesdays and Fridays are dedicated to individual work and are generally meeting-free. All of these guidelines help people collaborate and communicate more effectively as a team, which makes it easier for connections and community to flourish.
2. Spend Time Together
We don’t necessarily mean in person, though offsites and retreats are a great way to help cement relationships on the team. It’s more about showing up for each other in little and big ways everyday. If there’s an All Hands meeting on the calendar, don’t skip it (or worse, attend but zone out.) If someone cracks a silly joke in Slack, be the first one there with the crying-laughing emoji!
And if you’re a manager or leader, protect your one-on-one time with reports; that’s your unmissable opportunity to understand how they’re doing, where they need support, and what they really want from work at any given time.
3. Don’t Skip Socializing
If your team runs team bonding sessions, virtual happy hours, or any other kind of social experience, be there! (This goes double if you’re a manager or leader.)
Better yet, reorganize the calendar so that there’s a little bit of social time built into every meeting, rather than a handful of blocks set aside for “mandatory fun” (which can take the joy out of it.) Once you have social time incorporated into your meetings, make sure you stick with it — people dive into their work with more enthusiasm and energy when they get the chance to connect as humans first. And having that chance to talk casually strengthens relationships and helps make the collective network stronger.