How to Stay Connected When Working Remotely
Building Remote Company Culture
We’ve been working from home for … approximately 3,781 days. Just kidding. Obviously, our marketing agency is blessed to be able to continue working remotely, providing services to our clients and staying healthy all the while. Even before 2020 threw us a curveball, we had a flexible work-from-home policy and a few full-time remote employees, so we have experience with building remote company culture.
Since not every team is as fortunate as ours, we’re sharing ways to stay connected when working remotely.
How to Build Culture in a Remote Team
Whether your team has always been remote, you just joined a new team, or your office building is currently off-limits, it can be weird trying to connect through a computer screen. How do you build and maintain bonds between colleagues? How do you create cross-departmental relationships?
It helps to have a little help …
1. Designate someone to plan some bonding opportunities.
Meet Kristen. She’s our office administrator and, without even being asked, has used our company’s Slack channels to ask fun questions each week. This has been so good for our remote company culture.
She asked us what we were binge-watching, then turned it into a guessing game where we could all learn a little more about our coworkers.
Here are some other prompts Kirsten has asked:
- What’s your favorite purchase since the shelter-in-place order?
- What new hobbies have you picked up while stuck at home?
- Which local restaurant is your favorite to grab takeout food from right now?
2. It’s going to sound strange to say – but schedule more meetings!
It doesn’t have to be all work and no play, after all. The first week our entire company was working from home, we set up meetings to stay connected. Here are some of the meetings we’ve found to be effective:
A daily standup with your immediate team – You can communicate roadblocks, decide which tasks are most important for the day and see each other like you would in the office. Don’t be afraid to keep it short and sweet or miss some days. On Fridays, we start the daily standup with a random fun fact about each person, like “If you could join the circus, what would your talent be?”
A weekly meeting with the entire company – While figuring out how to stay connected while working remotely, we tested this idea. Each Tuesday we all gather (on video call) for a company-wide meeting. Seriously. All 50 of us on one call. It is all the things you’d expect it to be – fun, awkward, silly, uplifting, filled with animals or kids or significant others popping up in the background of videos. Fortunately, we haven’t seen anyone forget to wear pants. Our CEO joins in, and we have a roll call where we all answer a quick prompt like “favorite guilty pleasure song.”
A lunchtime meeting anyone can join – One of the first signs our staff was embracing remote company culture was an invite from one of our account managers, Amy Lewis. She invited everyone to lunch on a video call. It’s a standing invitation, each week, for whoever wants to join in. One time everyone hashed out whether or not Carole Baskin killed her husband. Who wouldn’t want to be part of that conversation?
More meetings to talk about whatever! – Maybe you and your desk buddies want to schedule 30 minutes every other week to chat. If one of your coworkers comes to you with something to discuss, don’t use Slack messages – call them up and chat! We hear Zoom calls are the new desk bomb.
Meetings like these are super important to give your brain a break and foster connections between employees. And remember – turn on your camera! If you’re having an off day, OK, but try to be present as much as possible.
3. Don’t be afraid to be direct.
When’s the last time you wrote someone a letter? Not typed on the computer but written out? A thank-you card or a friendly note can make someone’s day. You can stay connected to your team while remote by sending cards, letters or other “old-school” forms of communication (pigeons, smoke signals, you get the idea).
This year Fernando, our CEO, put together Memorial Day goody baskets for everyone in the office. They were stocked with beer from the brewery next to our office (Earthen Ales), meat products from Sugar 2 Salt next door, and more. This gift showed support for local businesses and gave everyone in the office something to look forward to.
Even if you don’t have the resources or time to put together gift baskets for your company, a letter or a card can show your appreciation and build remote company culture.
Remote Company Culture Is About Using the Tools You Have
While your coworkers may seem more distant than ever, there are ways you can stay connected and build culture in a remote team.
We’ve hired three new people during our fully remote time period, and we wouldn’t have been able to get to know them without technologies like Slack and Zoom (Ring Central). Use the tools you have at your disposal! If you’re curious to know what else your business can do to build company culture, check out our resource archive on the subject. Feel free to reach out to us online to chat about effective, collaborative marketing under any circumstances. We offer consulting services and hands-on support.