The Covid-19 pandemic has ensured that the world learns a new way to work and collaborate - remote. And now companies have seen merit in remote teams. Conversations are evolving around whether remote work is sustainable or not, and the world is divided in their opinion, like always!
The fact that is staring us in the face, however, is that remote and hybrid work culture is here for the long haul. If anything, it will evolve with time and technology. The past two years alone have led to several innovations and technologies enabling remote work.
The main opposition to remote work is, like Kunal Shah puts it in his tweet, "No real bonds. No real social or network skills. Illusion of understanding and learning. No osmosis, comfortable but damaging in the long run."
This tweet led to a spate of responses, many of which strongly opposed Kunal’s view. Kashif Raza, the founder of Bitinning, feels that people’s progress depends on finding new and exciting things to do, and work from home affords them that.
Sergio Pereira, an entrepreneur and remote work evangelist, feels that remote work is making opportunities available to all irrespective of where they are and many youngsters have opportunities that their parents did not have.
Vivek Joshi, a research analyst, feels that work-from-home offers freedom of location.
Jonathan Siddharth, the CEO of Turing, says that most meetings are now held on Zoom, and while there still are face-to-face meetings, the default meeting is now a remote one. According to him, this will have huge implications on how people work, commute, decide where to live, hire, and even fundraise.
So, while the world stays divided, there is merit in what both sides have to say. And if we want to see a world where remote work can lead to real bonds, networking skills, learning, and osmosis, we must engage the community to foster conversations, activities, and in-person face-to-face meets once in a while.
Remote work is especially popular in the sphere of software development, where developers don’t always have to be present at a particular location to do their work efficiently. So, let’s have a look at what hiring managers can do to create and foster a remote team culture.
- Give the feel of the workspace - If your employees can regularly connect with each other, they don’t just get to know each other, they can actually forge real bonds! I have been working with a remote team and yes, it takes more time than usual, but we are developing real work relationships. In fact, many colleagues have taken the initiative to organize in-person chill meets to get to know each other better! So, no one really misses “going to the office”.
- Outline the organization's goals for everyone - This is something that holds for both work-from-home and work-from-office scenarios. Everyone in the workplace must be aligned with the organizational goals so that everyone works to achieve them. Having ownership of tasks is a real motivator and can egg people on to stay accountable. So draft a clear mission statement and share your company’s goals with your employees, like Nate from Krisp points out in this YouTube video.
- Have clear conversations - Clear communication is the hallmark of great work culture. Companies that strive for clear conversations can help foster great collaboration among team members. This is especially true of the remote work environment where employees can be hired from a global talent pool. Companies must ensure that there is no language barrier among employees and that employees have access to open communication channels.
- Be mindful of time zone overlaps - Remote teams can be global, but for global teams to be successful, the 4-hour time overlap is the magic mantra. Vijay Krishnan, the CTO of Turing, an Intelligent Talent Cloud company, explains why. The four-hour time overlap can provide a nice balance such that neither the work suffers nor are the remote team members punished.
- Create routines and do video stand-ups - People in remote teams can start feeling ignored and neglected very soon because there are no people around. So don’t just give them tasks to complete, but actually set routines and deadlines, and do video stand-ups to keep your team engaged as Galen Emanuele, a Keynote speaker, shares in this YouTube video.
- Celebrate with the whole remote team - In the same YouTube video, Galen shares the importance of celebrating wins, anniversaries, birthdays with your remote team, the whole of it. This is another way to keep them engaged and not feel lost, isolated, or not part of the team. It’s also important to acknowledge and appreciate the work done by team members in front of everyone and motivate them to keep working harder and better.
- Having fun is important - Who here has not heard “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”? Right, no one. Everybody knows that hard work must be interspersed with fun activities that can foster real relationships among remote employees. At my company, we have these chill meets and game nights where everyone can just have fun and forget about work for that half or one-hour period. And, I can totally vouch for its effectiveness. Only recently, everyone (okay, not everyone, but many) at our team transformed into an artist and we got to see lovely sketches, paintings, and other art people in our team have created. What a fun way to get to know each other, right?
- Create a feedback loop - Yes, it sounds mundane but is extremely important as Brian Tracy, a business, personal, and professional coach points out. Since you are trying to create a sense of connection in distributed teams, getting feedback from individual employees will help augment the processes. Moreover, you can have a two-way feedback culture. While employees can give feedback as to what more they need to work efficiently, there must be clear feedback on employee performance to enable them to meet your expectations and not stay in a lurch.
If your company is already working remotely or if you are planning to institute remote or hybrid work arrangements, make sure building the remote work culture is part of your strategy. Also, a culture is a continuous process and hence, needs to be communicated to your employees at the outset so that it doesn’t die out. Foster a transparent work culture to build trust in your remote teams so that your company marches ahead on the path of success.