It is difficult to overrate the importance of creating and maintaining culture in a team. In many ways, it is the culture that shapes the attitude of employees and customers to the company. If the company adheres to the correct set of values, there is no need to constantly come up with additional motivation and ways to keep your talented employees. People already want to work in a healthy environment where everyone is rooting for a common cause and understands their personal roles in achieving the common goal, striving to improve their work and the processes around them.
It is important to understand that it is not enough just to write a list of principles and rules, give it to the colleagues, and wait for the result. Firstly, one cannot describe everything to the smallest detail. Secondly, you can’t make people act on the list, especially if they do not understand and do not share such views. It is even more difficult when it comes to a remote format when there is no live contact with the team and a lot of things are simply not visible. However, it is correct to show “what is customary here” with a personal example, and it works well. This way the employees do not need special instructions: they will make the right decisions on their own, intuitively relying on shared values and culture.
A well-articulated culture also helps you identify people who will fit in when recruiting newcomers to the team. During the interview, it makes sense to find out and understand whether the values you follow are close to the candidate. If you match you will spend a minimum amount of time adapting a new colleague. Generally, a team assembled according to the similar working and life principles will be united in the long run.
Building a culture in a remote team can happen as naturally as when employees are working together in the office. We have distinguished some rules that can help in this process.
Treat your colleagues as professionals and they will act like ones. It is customary for us to respect the personal boundaries and opinions of each team member; we give the right to make independent decisions, as well as to make mistakes. This creates a healthy and psychologically safe climate for the team.
It is important to ensure that everyone in the company has equal access to information. Thanks to monthly general calls and the fact that work tools and storage facilities are in collective access, each of us sees what has been done and by whom, how much time has been spent, what is planned, and so on.
Remote work and a flexible schedule do not mean “I work when I can.” Access to the documentation repository does not mean “I delete and create files as I wish.” Everywhere you need organization and structure. If you come up with general rules that are understandable and convenient and are working to improve processes, the productivity and comfort in the team will increase.
The established communication rituals in the company contribute to a better organization of colleagues; they give a sense of clarity and calmness in work. These can be weekly statuses, general meetings at the end of each month, quarterly planning, and so on. It is important for people to understand how and when they can be heard, what will be discussed, and under what circumstances. For example, once a month we arrange a common call for the whole team: we share company and project news and discuss our plans. In addition, it is advisable to establish a habit of one-on-one meetings to talk through the state of affairs, personal issues, and wishes from both sides. This is always an informal dialogue that prevents the accumulation of problems and gaps. We make one-on-one calls with each team member every three months.
Various ways to unite colleagues in non-working matters help maintain a positive atmosphere. You can think of a fairly wide pool of activities from dedicated off-topic channels in Slack to thematic online meetings. Do not forget to congratulate each other on holidays and give gifts. It is important that people share their emotions and can just communicate as in usual life.
Of course, it is difficult to replace personal communication with virtual, albeit regular, communication. Therefore, it is important to meet in person and spend time together in order to build good relations in a team. For example, we plan joint trips to interesting places.
In order to inspire everyone to move forward and evolve, encourage internal training and share information and project results among teams. Each has his own unique experience, which is interesting to share and also to hear from others. Try learning something new together: it could be corporate English lessons or specific programs for smaller groups of specialists. We devote the last Friday of every month to Learning Day when everyone can spend time studying the subject interesting to him. We are also improving our English at our speaking club. Moreover, we have a deposit program for additional training, like taking paid online courses, attending conferences, buying books, etc.