Regardless of which approach you choose to build team culture in the workplace, it’s essential to consult your team first. Speak to your remote employees to see which arrangement works best for them. Take the time to understand each employee’s individual requirements and preferences, and accommodate them as much as possible.
Once you have reached a consensus, establish ground rules to ensure they participate.
Remember to also review the arrangements periodically to ensure they are still meeting everyone’s needs.
Cultivate one-on-one relationships
Because they’re not based in the office, remote employees may feel disconnected from the rest of the team. This is why it’s important to foster a sense of belonging to the organisation for these employees. However, this is easy to overlook, particularly if you seldom see the employee face to face.
To keep employees ‘in the loop’ and to ensure their needs are met, schedule regular one-on-one meetings with your remote employees. These could be every fortnight, month or quarter.
Ask them questions like:
- What’s the best way to keep you connected with your other team members?
- What do you believe brings out the best in you at work?
- What can we do to help you do your best at work?
Create a shared team purpose
For every employee in a team to perform at their best, they need a common purpose. In addition, they should understand how their role and daily tasks feeds into this purpose.
Building upon your organisation’s vision and mission statement, create a shared purpose together with employees during a brainstorming session. Following this, ask each team member to consider how their individual contribution contributes to this purpose. This helps establish clarity and accountability.
In addition, be sure to regularly remind your team of their shared purpose. This could be done during one-on-one meetings, or during ‘common time’. Doing so reminds everyone, including remote employees, of their value and establishes a sense of camaraderie.
Involve remote employees in team events
As remote employees are often working away from the central office, they may miss out on team events. These range from little things, like team birthday celebrations, to big events like important company-wide announcements. Over time, this may lead them to feel disconnected from the team and the organisation.
It is important to include remotely working employees as much as possible in team-building initiatives provided to in-house employees.
Some examples are:
- Ensure they are invited to on-site social events and celebrations of successes, like team lunches.
- Include them in activities such as sports tipping competitions or Christmas festivities.
- For important events such as company-wide addresses by the CEO, invite them to attend in person. If this isn’t possible, invite them to listen-in or watch from home, or send a copy of proceedings afterwards. Remember to provide them the opportunity to comment and ask questions.
- Arrange occasional ‘meet and greet’ on-site events for employees who would otherwise seldom or never attend the central workplace.
- Ensure they have reliable access to services to help deal with issues that may arise while working remotely. This could range from IT support to HR support for any workplace-related issues.