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How to Build a Remote Team: Strategies to Get the Most out of Your WFH Team

A woman working at a table with an open laptop and books.

The 2020 COVID-19 pandemic turned the way we live day-to-day upside down. Some of it has gone back to “normal,” but a lot of the things we changed are still the “new normal.” This includes working from home (WFH).

Remote work is by no means a new phenomenon, but it’s gained momentum in recent years. And by the looks of things, employees are hoping it’ll stick around.

Building a remote team and company culture with a remote team can feel like a challenge, but it doesn’t have to be.

Remote Work is Good for Employees—and Employers

Yes, many employers are still fighting to get workers back in the office. If you're one of them, you may want to reconsider.

A collaborative study from 2023 found some incredibly strong arguments for remote work:

  • 98% of respondents would prefer to work completely or most of the time for the rest of their careers

  • 68% have have a very positive experience with remote work

  • 0% have had a very negative experience with remote work

  • 48% feel more energized when working from home

  • 67% say the top benefit of remote work is flexibility in how they spend their time

And while employees’ job satisfaction is incredibly important, it’s also important to address concerns about productivity. According to Stanford Graduate School of Business, those who work from home are 22% more productive than when they were in office.

Needless to say, remote work can be good for employees and employers. If your business has or plans to have a remote team, here are some tips to build one that will truly work well together.

A list of findings from a survey of remote workers.

How to Build Your Remote Team

One important statistic from the survey is that 75% of respondents feel connected to their colleagues. Even through distance and multiple time zones, WFH employees still want to feel like a part of a team.

This does require some effort on the employer's part. Some of the ways you can build a remote team include:

  • Utilize remote-friendly communication channels

  • Invest in project management software

  • Provide necessary equipment

  • Encourage work-life balance

Cohesion and collaboration make managing and working easier. When you work to build your team, you have to work towards creating a team-oriented environment no matter where your employees are.

Create Remote-Friendly Communication Channels

Water-cooler talk is great, and popping over to tell someone something is great, but you need easy-to-use digital communication channels for most team communication.

In the 21st century, most completely in-office companies use communication software beyond email, like Slack or Microsoft Teams. These are the perfect communication systems for remote work. They allow you to create different channels relevant to different projects, team members, or specific needs for the business.

Whether all of just some of your workers are remote, these communication channels are vital to maintain connection and ensure that they have all the information necessary to do their job.

Tip: Don’t forget to dedicate one channel to that water cooler talk your remote employees may be missing! Small talk can make a big difference in employee morale, and it’ll also keep your other work channels clear of unrelated messages.

Invest in Project Management Software

In the same vein as clear lines of communication, clear expectations and deadlines help remote workers do their job. Digital project management software allows everyone to see what they need to do and coordinate with their coworkers.

And they don’t just help employees stay accountable and on task, they help you, as a manager, track projects. From there, you can easily make adjustments to needs and deadlines and easily communicate them to your team.

Give Them Equipment

How often do office workers have to provide their own computers, monitors, even notepads? Hardly ever!

So why would you leave your remote workers high and dry without the tools they need to do their job?

It’s up to you to determine what these tools should be. For remote jobs a computer, keyboard, mouse, and maybe an extra monitor are necessary. If your remote employee works close to the office (or they’re moving from in-office to remote), they may be able to pick up their equipment. If the employee is too far, you can either send them what they need or provide a stipend to purchase what they need.

Support Your Team’s Work Life-Balance

Pull quote: Remote workers are 22% more productive than their in-office counterparts.

Once again, the belief of WFH nay-sayers that remote work is less productive is unfounded.

Yes, everyone needs to do the work they were paid to do. However, it’s important for managers to reject the toxic thought that working from home means they have 24/7 access to work. Remote workers deserve to clock out and shut their computer down at the same time as they would in the office.

Productivity increases due to a quieter work environment and less time off. Instead of getting distracted by coworkers or losing time commuting, remote workers are able to get more done in less time. If you’re feeling inclined to complain about remote workers doing house chores during working hours, remember that even with these breaks, they’re doing more work than office employees on average. Let them be more productive in their house, too.

Related Article: Emotional Intelligence in the Workplace

How to Build Culture in a Remote Team

When building a remote team, you might ensure that your employees have everything they need logistically to do their job. But there’s something that is often neglected—company culture. Most remote workers still feel connected to their coworkers, but it does take work to maintain a happy, fulfilling work environment that transcends distance.

The Value of a Set Company Culture

Culture doesn’t just mean having a foosball table or company outings to escape rooms. These can be a part of it, but the most important aspect of culture is the way coworkers interact. Think about the expectations of conversations, informal interactions, and how management deals with issues. These are the cultural aspects that keep teams happy and actually reduce employee turnover.

Related Article: What’s Your Management Style? Tips for Impactful Leadership

A remote worker with headphones taking a call on her laptop.

Maintaining Culture With Remote Workers

You can do this without foosball tables. Bring back virtual happy hours and virtual yoga classes. Most (if not all) bonding should be virtual-friendly.

Use those digital communication tools to schedule regular check-ins or team meetings. It allows more face-to-face interaction, and they don’t have to be all businesses. Feel free to sprinkle in some fun topics or ice-breakers.

For new employees, remote onboarding can be a challenge. It’s important to make it as close to in-person onboarding as possible. Set up calls to have real conversations. Make sure you introduce the new employee to others they’ll be working with on a call or during the regular team-wide check-in. Company culture should be made known from the start.

Related Article: How to Build an HR Strategy

Need Help Building Remote Teams?

Remote work is a reality business owners and managers should work to embrace even more. Happier employees means productive and tenured employees. When you put in the work to build culture with a remote team and treat remote workers the same as in-office workers, your job will be easier.

The Regional Economic Development Center at Yavapai College has resources for businesses in every stage of building and development. Talk to our data and analytics specialists to find the best pay for remote employees, or talk to our grant assistance specialists to see if there’s any financial assistance that can help you build your remote team.

Reach out today for more information.

Home LinkThe REDC is a Division of Yavapai College.Go to yc.edu

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