There are lots of tools and workflows that a company can use to facilitate remote work. There are plenty of options for asynchronous chat applications, video conferencing, and time tracking solutions. Managers can find tools that allow for a truly staggering level of monitoring and oversight of what their remote workers are up to every minute of the day. Now that we’re coming out of lockdowns and workforces are getting vaccinated, maybe you’re considering whether to continue remote work or not. If you have had trouble with adapting to remote work, either for yourself or your team as a whole, maybe you’re looking into some of these software solutions.
It’s now July 2021 and we’ve marked a year and then some of working as a fully remote team. At Werkbot we felt well-situated to making the switch to remote work, as we had already put into place the tools and workflows needed to accommodate occasional work-from-home days. In our transition to a fully remote organization, the best asset we had as a company came from having a strong team that could work together and communicate well even when we were not face-to-face.
Software solutions for remote work are great, but there is one tool that you’ll want in your toolbox that can’t be purchased or installed on a laptop: company culture. Having a strong company culture, where employees feel comfortable and valued, is the greatest asset to a remote team. It’s important to continue to foster a sense of teamwork and camaraderie that tends to happen organically when you’re all working together in an office, but building that rapport may not come naturally to many when working remotely.
So how do you foster a great company culture when you’re already remote? Here are some things you can try out.
Have a “Random” channel in Slack (or whatever chat application you use)
Encourage your teammates to share fun anecdotes from their lives, interesting news articles they read about UFOs, or pictures of their pets. Think of this as the digital version of the proverbial watercooler: as long as it’s not too controversial, everyone should feel comfortable posting memes and links that they think someone else might enjoy. It’s important when working remotely that team members are given a place where they can connect in a more casual way. Building those bonds will help the entire team work together when the going gets tough.
Establish some fun traditions
Embrace the awkward weirdness that will inevitably happen when you’re working remotely. For example,at our weekly company meetings we have memorialized the “awkward silence” that tends to fall at the end of a meeting when everyone has said everything they need to say. After a few weeks of pointing it out, we all got pretty attached to the moment of awkward silence, and now it’s become an expected part of our staff meeting. Sometimes calling out those weird moments turns something uncomfortable into an opportunity for connection, and having traditions that you build together will make you feel more like a team.
Don’t let professionalism get in the way of team building
It’s important to keep a professional approach to dealing with vendors, clients, and co-workers. However, don’t let professionalism hold you or your team back from building a great dynamic where everyone feels comfortable to let their personalities shine. When it comes to your remote work tools, enable emojis, bitmojis, or stickers and use them when it’s appropriate. Fun gifs might not technically be considered a professional office communication technique, but sometimes the perfect gif might be exactly what you need to get your message across and it might have your team smiling too.
As restrictions ease and we return to our normal routines and lives and routines, we may be looking forward to seeing our friends and co-workers in the office again. Regardless of whether your team stays fully remote, goes back to the office, or takes a hybrid approach, the lessons we’ve learned from our remote work experiences will be valuable as we move forward. We encourage anyone who is looking to foster a great company culture, especially as a remote team, to try some of the team-building techniques we’ve outlined here. Good communication keeps everything running smoothly and people communicate better when they are comfortable enough to share reaction gifs with their co-workers