Remote team-building activities help support telecommuting employee engagement. This has become especially important as the COVID-19 pandemic has so many employees working from home.

Here are 16 ways to build your remote team culture:

  1. Create a work-culture statement
  2. Set goals for your team
  3. Make your goals measurable
  4. Build a team culture into your remote-worker hiring practices
  5. Use the right communication tools for remote teams
  6. Incorporate team culture into your onboarding process
  7. Assign mentors to your remote workers
  8. Introduce remote workers to other team members
  9. Encourage social-media interaction
  10. Incorporate multimedia meetings into your culture
  11. Use online team-building exercises
  12. Recognize remote-worker achievements
  13. Support remote workers with career-development opportunities
  14. Offer employee incentives to remote workers
  15. Elicit feedback from remote workers
  16. Track remote-worker engagement

Learn more about what team culture is, why it’s important for remote workers and how to keep remote teams engaged.

What Is Team Culture?

Your team culture can be defined as the beliefs and values which leaders and members of your team hold in common. These shared beliefs and values motivate team members to pursue common goals.

For Example

The Container Store has gained a reputation for its employee-first team culture. The Container Store’s mission is to build a company where everyone associated with the business thrives together. The company’s philosophy is that if you take care of your employees better than anyone else, your employees will take care of your customers better than anyone else, and everyone involved will benefit.

Container Store employees aim to help customers organize their lives by organizing their belongings. This fosters a business environment where workers are happy, well-paid and well-trained. Employees enjoy coming to work alongside their coworkers to improve their customers’ lives. The Container Store’s team culture helped it earn a place on Fortune’s top 100 places to work for 19 years in a row.

When you have a strong team culture, your workers feel a sense of connection to your business that motivates them to contribute toward your company’s goals. They derive a sense of achievement from helping your company achieve its objectives. This translates into high employee engagement and satisfaction.

Occasional videoconferences and conference calls can help remote workers connect more.

Why Create a Culture for Remote Teams?

Working with remote teams presents some unique challenges for building team culture. Because remote workers don’t interact face-to-face with their managers and coworkers as often as other employees, they may lack a sense of personal connection to their team.

Additionally, because managers don’t work as closely with remote workers, they may find it challenging to get to know them personally and assess their strengths and weaknesses. This makes it difficult to provide performance feedback and career development guidance.

These factors put remote workers at risk of becoming disengaged. Employees who work exclusively from home are the least engaged of all workers, according to Gallup research. This can lead to lower productivity and a higher risk of turnover. To avoid this, companies that employ workers outside the office should take proactive steps to promote remote work culture among these employees.

Building a Team Culture Remotely

Because remote workers have become such an important part of today’s workforce, businesses and human resource departments have invested considerable research in identifying ways to cultivate team culture with these employees.

Here are 16 remote team best practices you can follow to reinforce your company culture with employees who work outside the office:

1. Create a Work-Culture Statement

Building a team culture begins by articulating what your company’s culture is and how that relates to your philosophy of teamwork. Creating a formal statement can help you focus your company’s cultural vision and communicate it to your employees.

A work-culture statement should summarize:

  • Your company’s mission statement
  • Your core beliefs and values
  • How you put your beliefs and values into practice through the way you run your business and treat workers and customers
  • Highlights of your company’s history and traditions that illustrate your culture

After you’ve created your work culture statement, communicate it to your workers and make it available to them. You can post a digital copy of your work culture statement on your company website for remote workers.

2. Set Goals for Your Team

Once you’ve clarified your vision of the work culture you’re trying to build, you can begin setting goals for your team and your remote workers.

Examples of goals can include:

  • Meeting communications standards consistent with company values
  • Achieving productivity goals
  • Achieving efficiency benchmarks
  • Increasing worker satisfaction
  • Raising employee engagement
  • Decreasing absenteeism
  • Lowering employee turnover

You can create general goals for your team as a whole as well as specific goals for your remote work culture.

3. Make Your Goals Measurable

To evaluate your progress towards your remote team culture objectives, it helps to make your goals measurable. You can do this by expressing your goals in terms of key performance indicators (KPIs).

For example, one KPI indicative of employee engagement is the net promoter score (NPS). This asks workers to use a scale of 0 to 10 to say how likely they would be to recommend your brand to a friend or family member.

Examples of other useful KPIs include:

  • Number of active company intranet users per day
  • Production units per hour
  • Absentee rate
  • New hire 90-day failure rate (number of new workers who leave the company within 90 days)
  • Turnover rate
  • Employee satisfaction index (where employees use a numeric scale to answer questions about how satisfied they are with their work)
  • Internal promotion rate (the number of workers you promote as a percentage of total workers)
  • Average online employee review ratings

You can use many other KPIs to measure how remote worker opinions, sentiments and behaviors compare with your company culture objectives. You also can break your goals down using very narrow KPIs. For example, you may designate goals for new remote workers to achieve during the first day, week or month of their onboarding process. Develop custom KPIs that fit your needs.

4. Build a Team Culture Into Your Remote-Worker Hiring Practices

The sooner you introduce remote workers to your team culture, the better. Begin by building your culture into your hiring process.

Post your company’s culture statement on your website so that job seekers can see it. Mention it during interviews with recruits. Ask interviewees questions that evaluate how well their beliefs and values align with those of your team.

5. Use the Right Communication Tools for Remote Teams

Remote-team communication lacks face-to-face interaction, posing a challenge for building a culture. This makes choosing the right communication tools especially important.

Video chat helps bridge the gap between remote and office workers who can’t be in the same room. Voice tools such as virtual phone numbers or conference call services can likewise lend a multimedia presence.

The communication tools you use for project management also affect your team culture. Email used to be standard for communicating instructions and sharing files, but it has become outdated because of its limitations. Designed for one-on-one communication, email can make it difficult for team members who missed a message to keep up with the latest updates to a thread. Staying up-to-date with the latest file versions can also get complicated when multiple team members are involved.

To get around these obstacles, many companies have begun using project-management tools that model social media groups, which are designed to let all participants view the latest messages and file versions. For example, using Slack for remote teams lets your workers interact through channels where everyone involved in a project can see the latest updates to conversations and files.

6. Incorporate Team Culture Into Your Onboarding Process

Your onboarding process presents an excellent opportunity to instill your team culture into new remote workers. Schedule activities to help new team members absorb your culture during the onboarding experience, such as:

  • Getting set up with a new employee account
  • Meeting supervisors and other team members
  • Reading your team culture statement
  • Answering a short online quiz about your team culture statement
  • Becoming familiar with your team online portal
  • Learning your team project management workflow

You can create a checklist of such activities for new remote workers to help you track their progress through the onboarding process.

7. Assign Mentors to Remote Workers

Being the new person on a team can be challenging when you don’t know anyone. Assigning a mentor to new remote workers can help provide a personal point of reference for them to get acclimated to the team. The mentoring relationship can be formally designated as such or framed informally as the main contact person or account manager.

Mentors can perform functions such as:

  • Greeting new workers and introducing them to others
  • Providing training guidance
  • Answering questions about policies and procedures
  • Providing performance feedback
  • Discussing career goals with workers

Mentors also can help supervisors monitor how remote workers are progressing at adjusting to team culture. This can make it easier to take corrective measures when workers are at risk of low engagement or turnover.

Breaking the ice by introducing new remote workers to their coworkers can help them feel more like members of the team. 

8. Introduce Remote Workers to Other Team Members

Breaking the ice by introducing new remote workers to their coworkers can help them feel more like members of the team. You can use a number of methods to arrange introductions, including:

  • Posting profiles for new members on team portals and social media boards
  • Having mentors introduce remote workers to other personnel
  • Introducing remote workers to their collaborators on specific projects
  • Making introductions during virtual meetings

Use these types of techniques to welcome new members aboard and help them feel at home with your team.

9. Encourage Social-Media Interaction

Promoting social-media interactions between team members can help build team spirit and company culture. You can do this through a social-media forum on your company intranet or through public social profiles devoted to your business.

To encourage interaction, you can supplement the business area of your social boards with recreational discussion groups. For instance, you could create a discussion group where team members chat about their favorite hobbies.

10. Incorporate Multimedia Meetings into Your Culture

Occasional videoconferences and conference calls can help remote workers connect more personally with team members they can’t see face-to-face. Allowing remote workers to ask supervisors questions over video or audio chat is one way to promote multimedia interaction.

You also can make weekly or monthly meetings part of your company culture. Another way to promote multimedia contact is to schedule periodic performance reviews via videoconference or teleconference.

11. Use Online Team-Building Exercises

Social media and multimedia meetings create opportunities to engage in online games for remote teams. Examples of games teams can play are:

  • Trivia games
  • Sharing bucket lists
  • Online Pictionary
  • Playing Scrabble via Facebook
  • Playing charades through video chat

Invite team members to suggest other online games which they think their coworkers would enjoy.

12. Recognize Remote-Worker Achievements

Workers feel more like they’re part of the team when their contributions to group goals are acknowledged and appreciated. Publicly recognizing remote-worker achievements can help build team spirit.

For example, you can periodically thank remote workers who contributed to a project. You also can recognize remote workers as part of your worker of the month program.

13. Support Remote Workers With Career-Development Opportunities

Workers feel more connected to their team when they feel like their job supports their personal career goals. Employers can support remote workers in their career objectives through means such as:

  • Having mentors discuss career goals with remote employees
  • Providing training opportunities
  • Investing in continuing education
  • Offering career advancement opportunities

Using these strategies to promote remote workers on their career paths can strengthen their connection to your team and increase worker loyalty.

14. Offer Employee Incentives to Remote Workers

Incentives provide another way to encourage remote-worker engagement with your team culture. You can offer hard financial incentives such as bonuses, raises and benefits. You also can offer softer perks such as employee discounts and wellness programs.

15. Elicit Feedback from Remote Workers

Workers feel a stronger sense of team connection when their employers value their opinions. Invite workers to share their feedback, criticisms and suggestions for improvement. You can do this through tools such as surveys and suggestion boxes.

16. Track Remote-Worker Engagement

To evaluate the success of your team-building efforts, it’s important to monitor worker engagement. You can track worker engagement using KPIs such as:

  • Employee satisfaction
  • Net promoter score
  • Absenteeism rate
  • Turnover rate

If you notice engagement numbers for remote workers are low, investigate why and take corrective steps.

Promote Productivity by Investing in Remote Team-Building Activities

When your remote workers share your company culture, your team is more productive and your company is more prosperous.

Investing in remote team-building activities yields dividends in employee engagement and worker satisfaction, translating into lower turnover rates and higher profit margins. Prioritize remote team building to retain good workers and promote your company’s success.

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