How would you feel about never meeting your coworkers in person? As remote work increases in popularity, more and more companies hire staff living in different cities and opposites sides of the country. It’s possible to never see your coworkers except at virtual meetings.
A new company culture must exist so employees and contractors feel connected and welcome, not isolated. Here are four tips for creating a positive company culture if you have a remote team.
1 Onboarding process includes an informal meeting with the team
One of the most important aspects of company culture is inclusivity: having team members feel like they are part of the team and not an extra.
Before a contractor’s first project or as an employee’s first week of work, schedule an informal meeting with team or department members they will be working with. Ask each person to introduce themselves and share something about their personal lives, such as hobbies, favorite pets, or places to visit. This initial connection helps to build relationships and gives a sense of everyone’s personality.
Often remote teams communicate by text or voice message, removing a person’s tone of voice. Even if they use voice messages, facial expressions and body language are missing. If someone types a short text message, their intention or mood is too open to interpretation. Was the message typed in a hurry, or was the team member angry?
Having that initial meeting helps smooth out friction and doubt. If the person seemed easy-going on the virtual meeting, but you know she is very busy with projects, she probably typed the short text in a hurry and isn’t upset with something you said!
2 Mentor or supervisor/contact person is responsive and supportive
It’s possible to work on a project for weeks, and your only liaison with the company or department is your mentor or project supervisor during that time. They become your lifeline to “civilization” while you work, remotely and alone.
When you have a question or problem to fix, a contact person who is responsive and warm is crucial. There is nothing worse than asking a question, seeing a read receipt on the text, and not getting a response for 24 hours. The remote worker can feel stranded on a deserted island.
Having a mentor who is warm and positive is more important than a knowledgeable mentor. Even if he doesn’t have a solution for your question, you won’t feel anxious about “bothering” him with another question. Eventually, you’ll work out the problem together.
3 Clear procedures and best practices
Documentation is key to running a remote company. Unlike working at an office, an employee can’t pop over to the next cubicle to ask a coworker for a procedure manual.
Team members need to know how to use a CRM or communication software to communicate with the team. Do they use Slack to ask questions in a group chat? Do they go to Google Drive to find the correct procedures for opening an account with an overseas client?
When remote team members know where to look for information or ask for information, the company runs smoothly, even if company members never physically cross paths throughout the entire work year.
4 Support and appreciation for work accomplished
Whenever a team member or contractor finishes a significant task or a project, it’s a great feeling when the supervisor or mentor thanks that person for their achievement. It’s even better when the mentor says that the company CEO or the entire department appreciates the accomplishment.
For a contractor especially, it isn’t very reassuring when they finish a project, get a paycheck, but never hear any feedback about what happened to their work. Was the client okay with the project? More than okay? Emailing a contractor to “send an invoice for completing the project” can create a feeling of isolation.
Getting feedback and hearing that the work was well-received gives team members and contractors the assurance that more work is on the horizon because of a job well done.
For companies that are 100 percent remote, scheduling time for employees and contractors to meet the team is an important step to effective communication. When everyone is clear on their role and they feel appreciated, it will feel like a team of people in separate rooms of the same house, and not a random bunch of people scattered across the globe!
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