As more and more companies shift to remote working, it’s increasingly important for firms to make an effort to ensure their remote team culture is healthy and inviting. After all, according to data from Owl Labs’ State of Remote Work, in 2022, 24% more workers chose to work remotely than in 2021.
And with interest in in-office work dropping by the same amount, it’s clear that businesses should be taking steps to create a sense of belonging among their distributed workforce.
In this article, we look at how organizations can help new remote hires settle in and become an integral part of the company culture. The implications are clear, with nearly 70% of remote workers reporting higher productivity than expected, when you help your remote workers fit in, you will also increase your bottom line.
By the time you’re done reading, you’ll have the tools you need to ensure your remote hires feel like part of the team.
Why Is Having a Strong Remote Work Team Culture Important?
Having a solid, positive work team culture is essential for any organization, and that extends to your remote employees. When employees feel like they are part of a team, they become more engaged in their work and feel a sense of belonging—both critical components to successful working relationships.
When hiring someone to work remotely, the challenge lies in creating an environment where everyone feels connected and included despite being miles apart. Fortunately, with the right tools and strategies in place, it’s possible to make remote hires feel just as much as part of the team—even if they don’t physically share office space.
How To Build a Strong Remote Work Team Culture
Keeping a remote team motivated and engaged is key to success—so how do you make sure your remote hires feel like part of the team? We’ve got seven key tips for you.
1. Define your company culture
Establishing a strong remote work team culture starts with setting the right expectations and defining your company culture. Here are some ways to do that:
- Craft a remote culture statement reflecting your values, goals, and strategies for working remotely as a team.
- Encourage all team members to contribute based on their remote work experiences and shared interests and values.
- Figure out how the company can nurture these shared values by implementing initiatives such as regular casual check-ins or one-to-one meetings.
- Create unique visuals to remind everyone of the company culture, such as customized slogans, banners, emojis, or stickers that are on-brand with the company.
- Make sure to update this regularly to keep it relevant and reflective of what’s actually happening within your remote work environment.
An inclusive and supportive work environment is the number one concern for nearly a third of all business owners. If you make it your first priority, you’ll see results.
2. Leverage tools for communication and collaboration
According to recent research from Microsoft, remote work has “caused the share of collaboration time employees spent with cross-group connections to drop by about 25% of the pre-pandemic level.”
Fortunately, there are ways that companies can bridge this gap to help new remote hires become fully integrated into their teams. Here are some tips on leveraging collaborative tools to foster communication and make your remote workers feel part of a cohesive unit:
- Utilize platforms such as ClickUp, Zoom, or Slack to keep in contact with your remote team members and facilitate collaborative working.
- Some platforms offer video recording features for asynchronous, video-based updates among team members—this can be especially useful when time zones or working hours aren’t the same.
- Suggest the creation of channels on these platforms dedicated to informal communication, such as sharing memes and chatting about shared interests.
- Give a few minutes before starting virtual meetings for workers to catch up with each other on a more personal level.
- Create a shared document repository with project updates, meeting minutes, and other important documents so everyone can access the same information.
- Encourage an open dialogue between managers and remote teams by setting up interactive discussion forums or online chat rooms for real-time feedback on projects.
By giving remote workers access to diverse and accessible methods of communication and collaboration, they will feel encouraged and empowered to collaborate with their on-site team members, improving both the quality and quantity of projects completed for the company.
3. Make all team members feel valued
Two-thirds (68%) of those working remotely say they lack motivation because they feel their work goes unnoticed. Here are some tips for creating a sense of belonging among remote hires.
- Offer competitive compensation packages for remote workers so they feel valued and respected.
- Provide access to the same benefits as on-site workers if possible, or compensate with something else such as a stipend. (You could even surprise them by sending some company swag.)
- Allow international remote workers to observe their own national holidays if it makes sense for the role. If that is impossible, Near recommends providing floating paid time off (PTO) days instead.
An example of how this would work would be 10 working days for vacation and 10–14 days for observed holidays. Remember, if the worker has a sales or customer support role and must communicate with customers from the US, it would probably make more sense to offer US holidays instead.
- Invite remote team members to join offsite gatherings when able.
- Encourage regular communication between all team members—hold virtual meetings and check-ins, and encourage project collaboration.
- Show appreciation for remote workers’ efforts by recognizing their achievements in team meetings or other virtual gatherings.
Without taking the necessary steps to make them feel included, your remote workers’ motivation and sense of belonging could suffer, impacting your bottom line.
4. Inform team members of their performance
It is essential to ensure that all team members feel valued and appreciated for their contributions. Workers that take pride in a “job well done” are more productive, with four out of five workers reporting they will regularly do extra work for their organization when they feel recognized for their contributions.
Here are some ways to make sure your remote hires feel part of the team and understand the value of their work:
- Provide recognition for each member’s accomplishments. Some ways to do this include acknowledging their efforts in team meetings and newsletters or giving them tangible rewards like bonuses or gift cards.
- Conduct regular performance assessments with clear expectations to let them know you “see” the work they put in and that you care about their progress within the company.
- Invite them to one-to-one sessions where they can learn how their role contributes to the company’s success or discuss career growth opportunities.
- Give constructive feedback when needed to help them improve their performance.
While it may require a little more effort on your part, keeping your remote workers up-to-speed on their progress will help them reach and even surpass company goals.
5. Make space for team bonding
Creating a remote work team culture where your staff feel comfortable interacting with each other and forming personal connections and team bonds is essential for building a cohesive workforce.
Here are some tips on how to make remote hires feel like part of the team:
- Schedule regular video calls. While email or chat messages can effectively keep people connected, there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction, especially to facilitate a collaborative environment. Schedule regular video calls with the entire team so everyone can get to know each other better.
- Host virtual team-building activities. To give your remote staff an opportunity to bond, consider hosting virtual team-building activities, such as online scavenger hunts or trivia nights. Such activities are a fun way for everyone to connect and build a more cohesive team.
- Promote informal conversations. Replicate “water-cooler” chats by encouraging your remote workers to reach out and get to know one another by setting up casual channels on Slack or other platforms where they can have a virtual space to talk about non-work topics, like their hobbies or favorite books.
- Host remote social events. While hosting in-person social gatherings may be impossible, you can still bring your team together by hosting virtual events, such as happy hours or game nights.
- Foster mentorship. Establish mentorship programs, buddy systems, and resource groups to cultivate connections among remote and on-site workers. These initiatives should be employee-led and don’t necessarily have to focus on work-related topics.
- Facilitate interaction. Encourage collaboration between remote employees and those who work in the office. Create projects or initiatives involving different department members to bridge the gap between teams.
By making space for team bonding and fostering a sense of connection between your remote staff, you can ensure they feel like an integral part of the company.
6. Let them know the company story
Sharing the history and culture of your organization will help new remote employees better understand who you are, what you stand for, and why they should be excited to join your team. Some practical ways to do this are:
- Have an onboarding program that includes your company’s history, mission, and values. Telling the company story to all team members serves as a reminder that each individual plays an important role in the company achieving success.
- Include a welcome video from senior leadership or other team members to help remote hires connect with the team.
- Offer virtual office tours when possible so they can get a feel for their on-site colleagues’ workspace.
- Share past successes and achievements and any awards, recognitions, or milestones that make you proud of your organization.
- Invest time and effort into developing your brand identity so you have something tangible to share with new hires so they can easily connect with your organization. Company branding is critical for creating a strong culture among remote employees.
These actions will help remote employees understand what it means to be part of the team right away and create a sense of belonging before they even start their new role.
7. Gather feedback and adjust
Gathering feedback from remote hires is essential for making them feel like part of the team. By listening to their needs and concerns, you can adjust your onboarding process and create an atmosphere where everyone feels included. Here are some ways to gather feedback:
- Use data to gain insight. Evaluate existing processes to determine how well team members interact with one another and make adjustments as necessary.
- Get input. Ask open-ended questions about their experience with the company so far. You could include questions about employee morale, whether they have faced any barriers to productivity, or what their biggest challenges are.
- Make it a democracy. Hold virtual meetings where employees can provide input on processes or procedures.
- Encourage openness. Distribute surveys that solicit anonymous comments or complaints.
By taking these steps, you’ll actively engage with your remote hires and help them feel like they’re a valued part of the team.
It is important to ensure that remote hires feel valued and appreciated. By implementing effective communication strategies, providing access to resources, and creating a sense of community and belonging, you can create a remote work team culture that keeps your workers engaged and thriving.
Making your remote hires feel like an integral part of the team may take a bit of effort, but it will be well worth your time. And if you are looking to expand your operations quickly and efficiently by recruiting outstanding remote talent, Near can help you hire experienced professionals from Latin America (LatAm) with very little effort on your part.
Fill out this form to get a list of skilled, pre-vetted LatAm talent and start interviewing for free.